How to Ace an Interview

Job hunting can be a difficult and exhausting process. After spending hours trawling through recruitment adverts, writing out applications and sending out your carefully crafted CV, it is such a relief when you discover a position that you’re interested in, with a company who is also interested in you. But standing between you and your next career move is always one final step: the interview.

No matter how encouraging the signs have been up until this point, your interview will determine whether you secure the role or not. Watch our Expert advice below and read on to find out how to ensure nothing gets in your way of your next venture.

Research

The most important thing to do in preparation for your interview is research the company and the position you have applied for. This may sound obvious, but a surprising number of candidates underestimate the necessity and value of detailed research. The first place to start is the company’s website. Find out exactly what the company does, how their business model works, who their clients or customers are, and the company’s history and long term goals.

When you understand fully who you would be working for, research more specific details relating to the role you have applied to. Visualise your daily activities in this role think and how your skills and experience could help you. Be prepared to answer questions on what makes you the best candidate for this role. You can draw on your research of the company when thinking about this.

Following your research on the company’s website, survey other information sources for a wider perspective on the company. See if there are any mentions of the business in the news, and check social media for an insight into what the company culture is like. Review sites like Glassdoor should be taken with a pinch of salt because they often attract the most opinionated people, for better or worse.

If you know the name/s of who will be interviewing you, research their professional background on LinkedIn. It is likely they will be doing the same for you! As a final task, it could help you stand out to research the latest developments in your industry. For example you could read up on the most recent technological advancements you would be working with.

Practise

Your research, combined with a reflective knowledge of yourself, should be enough to answer almost all of the questions you will be asked in the interview. However, for most people, it can help to practise before the event. Using flashcards, a spreadsheet or a simple document, create a long list of potential questions you think you could be asked. Then go through them all and respond out loud to the best of your ability, simulating the interview scenario. Go through the questions a number of times so that you can improve your answers and don’t stop until they are concise and convincing. You may wish to write your answers down or get help from a friend or family member.

If you make claims about your abilities or personality traits then prepare examples from real life to back you up. Don’t worry - your evidence does not have to be from the same environment as that which your job will be. If you don’t have similar experience to the position you are interviewing for you can still give evidence, for example by describing how you showed leadership at school, or exercised teamwork as part of a sports team or band. If you’re stuck thinking about what kind of questions you could be asked then there are many resources online that offer suggestions.

On The Day

What can you do on the day of the interview, to give yourself the best chance of success?

Step One:

Dress Appropriately. Most interviews require a formal suit. Try to tame your desire for high fashion and standing out. It is important to express yourself as a unique individual but you should focus your efforts on your interview answers if you really want to stand out. A brightly coloured shirt, wild hair or unprofessional look will not give the right impression.

Step Two:

Be on time. Allow more contingency time for traffic and other unforeseen mishaps than you normally would. It is much better to get there too early and have to wait around in a nearby café, than to rush in stressed and late, at the exact time your interview is supposed to be. Disasters sometimes happen, but usually lateness indicates poor organisational skills: a bad start to the interview.

Step Three:

Smile! You’re attending an exciting opportunity to advance your career, so act like it. Make sure the interviewer knows that you really want the role. Body language talks as much as speech does, so take a deep breath to calm your nerves and let your genuine enthusiasm shine. If there are three key actions to remember then they are shake hands with purpose, sit up straight, and make eye contact.

Following the advice above will give you the best chance of securing that new job, but remember that nothing can guarantee you a position. If you're attending an interview soon, we'd like to wish you the best of luck.

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