How to: Prepare for an interview

When it comes to an interview, you can never be too prepared…

Whether you’re new to job hunting, or you’re a well-practiced interviewee – thorough research and effective preparation is absolutely essential to guarantee interview success. Attempting to ‘wing it’ will only ever end badly (and/or in awkward silences).

We’ve already covered telephone interview dos and don’ts and video interview tips, but if you’re invited to a face-to-face interview – here are our top tips on how to prepare:

 

Getting started

First things first, you need to know what to prepare for.

Aside from giving you an insight into the role and organisation, good interview preparation will also give you some all-important confidence. Let’s face it, no-one likes surprises.

But what specific preparation should you carry out? Here are a few key things to cover:

  1. Research the company
  2. Look up your role
  3. Find the address
  4. Pick an outfit
  5. Think of some potential questions your interviewer may ask
  6. Prepare some potential questions you could ask at the end of the interview

101 interview questions you’ll never fear again

 

The week before the interview

Research the company

Interviewers expect candidates to have a good grasp of what their organisation does – meaning your ability to research effectively is essential.

Consider aspects like: how big the company is, how it’s divided up, who their customers are, and who their main competitors are – as well as any recent developments or plans within the company.

With this knowledge, you’ll be able to add value to the conversation, whilst showing a genuine interest in what they do.

 

Read the job description

When it comes to interview preparation, the job description is your best friend.

Not only will a thorough examination of the duties and required personal qualities help you to understand more about what the role entails – it’ll also help you to recognise exactly what the employer is looking for.

Then, you can tailor your answers accordingly – coming up with tangible examples that prove you’re the best candidate for the role.

What job adverts really mean

 

Figure out the format

Interviews can take a number of forms – from one-on-one and group interviews, to position-specific tests, role plays, and psychometric questionnaires. And each one will require a different type of preparation.

Often, this will be explained when you’re invited to the interview, but there’s no harm in asking for more information if needed. Researching online to find out how the process has worked for other people in your situation will also help you to figure out what to expect.

Finding out who your interviewer(s) will be and researching their roles within the organisation will additionally help to reduce surprises on the big day. You can look these up on the company website, or try finding them on LinkedIn.

Competency-based interviews: What you need to know

Group interview tasks and activities

 

Write things down

Unfortunately, you can’t predict every interview question that’ll come up.

So instead of relying solely on memorised answers, prepare an additional list of your most relevant skills, attributes, and work experience. Each question you address will be an opportunity to provide some of this information to the interviewer.

That way, you can get be sure you’ll get your most suitable qualities across – even if the specific questions you were hoping for don’t come up.

What are transferable skills?

 

The day before the interview

Although you should have the bulk of your preparation done by now – that doesn’t mean there’s nothing to organise the day before.

Here are a few things to do:

  • Pick your outfit and try it on
  • Find a map of the location
  • Do a trial run to check the journey time
  • Put important information into a folder (e.g. your CV, portfolio, certificates, or any other examples of your work and/or qualifications)
  • Read and review the research you’ve done

Sorting out all of the above in advance will mean less stress on the day of the interview.

You’ll be sure your outfit fits, you’ll know exactly where you’re going, and with all of your important documents to hand – the interviewer will be able to see you’re prepared.

Even if you don’t end up needing examples of your work – they could turn out to be a great way to demonstrate a point or answer a question.

Pre-interview checklist

 

The day of the interview

By now, you should feel prepared.

All that’s left to do is get there on time, and put your preparation to good use.

Plan to arrive at least 15 minutes before your scheduled interview time – and if you’re going to be late for any reason, make sure you inform the interviewer as early as possible.

If you’re still feeling nervous – don’t panic. Here’s our guide to help you deal with stress in an interview.

Interview tips: Our advice to help you ace the interview

12 things you should never do at an interview

 

The worst thing you can do at an interview? 

OK, so out of all the classic interview nightmares, which are the ones that really worry jobseekers the most?

We spoke to a group of university students to find out – and see if recruiters actually agree…

 


Still searching for your perfect position? View all available jobs now

 

  • Arjun Karki

    Good advice. I hope it would be much helpful for the one who really wanted to prepare for interview!

  • Kirstie Brennan

    Thank you for these top tips Michael Cheary. The links are very insightful too.
    Every interview is different and it can be lengthy periods of time inbetween interviews. You’ve covered more aspects than I knew were involved. A very interesting and helpful read.

  • Caroline Clarkson Drake

    Thank you for putting my mind at rest regarding the interview techniques.

  • Stuart Banks

    Do all your worrying long before your interview by preparing and planning thoroughly everything, and I mean everything beforehand, so you will cope with anything unforeseen and it will go like clockwork, as if it were any typically successful day at the office. Because often large, multinational companies use recruitment companies and their staff to make arrangements for shortlisted candidates to attend their clients , final interview and assessment stages without stating they are not the Human Resources department or which personnel from the company are interviewing and assessing you the candidate on the day (probably because they don`t know or have not been told). This causes a huge concern when you turn up unannounced on the correct day and at the right time to be interviewed and assessed as a candidate when the security at reception have not been informed of your arrival and you don`t know who you are supposed to be seeing in the company as a visitor. But don`t worry, you were on time for your appointment and every other candidate attending for interview is in exactly the same position. Because unless the personnel interviewing and assessing you are senior enough to be on the companies board of executives they are unlikely to feature on any online company literature you uncover in your research of the company.