10 step guide on how to prepare for an interview
So you’ve secured the big interview. Congratulations; now is your chance to really impress. Preparation ahead of time will help you keep it together and perform at your very best:
Once you’ve had the interview confirmed:
1. Research the organisation
You’ll already know the basics from your research ahead of submitting your application, but now is the time to delve a bit deeper. What are their current projects? Have they been in the news? Who are their clients? Who will be interviewing you? Check out the organisation’s website, newspapers, or social media for this information. Showing you know what the organisation is up to will look good to your interviewers. If you have been told or can find out who will be interviewing you a bit of research about them (a quick look over their LinkedIn page will do) could potentially help reduce your nerves.
"Once, someone I interviewed had looked through the news online and pulled out quotes from journalists about the organisation. I was so impressed, it showed how much time and effort she'd put in and that she really cared about the organisation."
Katy, Director, Events Business
2. Prep the possible questions – and their answers
Looking at the job description and the skills required for the role should give you a steer on what kind of questions could be asked about your abilities and experience. List the possible questions and make a note of what your answers would be, but don’t worry about fitting in to an exact box. The interview is a chance to show your knowledge and skills but also your personality, so personal projects you’ve developed, or examples from hobbies or interests that are relevant might be of interest to the interviewer. It’s all of these things combined that will help to demonstrate why you are a good match for the job.
Check out our advice on some of the tough questions you might get asked, here and log in or sign up to hear from 22-year-old entrepreneur and seasoned interviewee, James sharing some of his interview success secrets.
3. Research career progression and training opportunities
The role itself is one thing, but by broadening your research out a bit into how the role fits within the team or the company, this will give you a good understanding of what path you could possibly take within the business. This shows you’re thinking long-term and seriously about the role and it will also help you respond appropriately to questions about your future plans or ideal career progression, relating directly back to the company you are applying to.
Is there a particular course or qualification you think would be relevant to the role you are applying for? If it feels right during the interview, you could express an interest in possible learning and development opportunities. This is a great example of your proactivity, but don’t go overboard – it’s good to mention but shouldn’t be the main focus of the interview.
4. Sort out extra support you might need
If you need special access or additional materials to be arranged for your interview, make sure you get in touch with the organisation and let them know.
- Arranging for written materials to be amended into Braille, enlarged font, colour contrast or audio
- Adding signs to the interview room
- Adjusting chairs
- Arranging for a sign language interpreter
- Confirming alternative access such as ramps or rails
5. Plan the route
Make sure you know where you are going and how long it takes to get there. If you can, go online and work out the easiest way to get there, then be sure to add on extra time so you’re totally covered. The last thing you want is to arrive flustered or late.
6. Figure out what to wear
The last thing you need is a frantic panic on the morning of the interview as you hunt for a suitable outfit. Planning what to wear a few days beforehand will let you focus on the important things. Check out this module for tips on what to wear for your interview.
"I planned what I was going to wear and how I was getting there a week before my interview. It left me time to concentrate on the other interview prep I had to do in the days leading up to it."
Thalia, 21, student
A few days before
7. Think of the questions you’d like to ask
During your research there will most likely have been things cropping up that you’d like to know more about. Write them out as clear questions for the interviewer. This will help you avoid an awkward silence when you’re asked if you have any questions. Check out our Top 5 questions to ask in your interview for more tips.
8. Practice with friends or family
Imagining what it feels like to be in the interview can help make it feel less daunting. Rehearsing questions and answers with friends, family or a mentor will be a huge help on the day.
The day before
9. Read through your notes
Re-familiarise yourself with the questions and answers you’ve prepared but don’t stress about trying to remember every single detail. A decent grasp of the main points will stop you ‘script-reading’ your answers, but if it helps, create a list of key skills, qualities and experience from your CV that you want to cover.
10. Get a good night’s sleep
You’ll undermine your preparations if you’re stifling yawns in the interview. Feeling refreshed and alert will also help you cope with any unforeseen situations that might get the nerves buzzing; like questions you maybe hadn’t thought of.
It’s really noticeable when an interviewee has not had enough sleep, they seem far less focused and alert and it doesn’t leave a good impression."
Stacey, Head of HR, Marketing agency
Every interview is different and in some cases you may have less time to prepare. These steps can be condensed, but the most important thing is that you do what it takes to be able to walk into that interview as calm and confident as possible, ready to show the best version of yourself. Good luck.
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