Interview Preparation

Preparing for an Interview

The first thing you must remember is a job interview is a business meeting, it’s not a casual meet and greet.

From this meeting, each participant will make judgements and decisions about the other. It is your chance as an applicant to sell yourself and obtain first-hand knowledge of the position and the company.

The employer will be “selling” the position and the company to the applicants, as well as trying to establish a candidates strengths and weaknesses.

Don’t forget, however, that a job interview is a competitive situation in which several other qualified candidates are vying for the same job. Therefore you must prepare thoroughly.

Before Your Interview

Confirm the exact place and time of the interview, along with the interviewer’s name and title.

Try and be informed about the company before the interview. There’s no excuse for going in blind when you can use the Internet, libraries, papers, people who work there to find out background information.

Read the spec and make sure you are confident in how you can justify why you are the best candidate. Prepare the questions you will ask during the interview and make sure they are relevant to the role and the company.

Questions to Ask

Prepare a list of questions but make sure not to ask them if they have already been answered. The following are common questions to ask at interview:

  • What career opportunities exist within the company?
  • Will I be working independently or as a team member?
  • What are the common characteristics of employees who excel in this position?
  • When and how is an employee’s performance evaluated?
  • When will the hiring decision be made?

Consider planning for the typical questions candidates are asked, such as:

  • Explain your current role to me?
  • Why are you leaving?
  • What skills do you feel you can bring to our company?
  • What motivates you?
  • What are your key strengths and weaknesses?
  • Where do you see yourself in 5 years time?

And know your CV!

The Interview

There are multiple aspects to an interview, try to make sure you hit each aspect through the course of the meeting.

  1. Whether you like it or not an interview is a sales situation. A big part of being successful depends on your ability to sell yourself as a potential employee. Be prepared to market your skills and experiences as they relate to the position described. Work at describing your qualifications in terms of the particular set of skills and attributes the employer is looking for. Provide tangible examples of how you added value in your role.
  2. It is also an opportunity for evaluation. An interviewer will evaluate you on your qualifications, skills and aptitudes, ability and motivations. To do all this successfully, it is important to communicate answers effectively and remember not to ramble, keep answers succinct.
  3. Employers will also assess your communication skills and overall presentation. Speak clearly and enthusiastically; be professional, bright and personable. But don’t be afraid to let your personality shine through. Make sure you listen carefully; you certainly want to be able to answer the question that was just asked of you.
  4. Finally, have the right attitude. Foster a positive mind set and avoid being critical of your past position or employer, even if it is warranted. If you are asked about a demotion or sudden change in job, don’t be defensive: briefly state the facts and what you learned from the experience.

Remember: don’t be afraid of short pauses. If you need a few seconds to formulate an answer, take them. This is how we talk naturally with friends and peers and you want to emulate this comfortable environment. The interviewer may need time to consider their next question anyway so do not feel it is necessary to fill every void.

Attributes Employers Look for in Interviews

An employer will be looking for the following attributes during an interview:

  1. Adaptability
  2. Determination
  3. Communication Skills
  4. Self Organisation
  5. Willingness to Work Hard
  6. Enthusiasm
  7. Creativity
  8. Honesty
  9. Self-Confidence
  10. Professional Appearance

Traits to Avoid During Interviews

  1. Poor Appearance
  2. Poor Communication Skills
  3. Indifference
  4. Lack of Confidence
  5. Evasiveness
  6. Negative Attitudes
  7. Abrupt Replies
  8. Conceit
  9. High-Pressure Selling

Signs an Interview is Going Well

  • Typically if you are getting a grilling the interviewer is interested in you, take confidence from this and hold your own.
  • The more detailed and specific the questions, the better you’re doing.