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How to ace your interview preparation

Don’t Just Get Your Foot In The Door, Kick The Door Down

Internal Recruitment Lead

This is the first in a two part blog, sharing best practice interview techniques. This article covers preparation ahead of the interview and part two will focus on the meeting itself.

So you’ve done the hard part. You’ve written a killer CV, filled out the application, and been invited to the interview. Job done, right?

Not quite. Not yet!

Don’t fall into the trap of thinking that you can turn up on the day, charm your way through an interview with a few catchy lines, and the job will be yours. Interview processes at the best companies can be rigorous, but with a few key interview techniques you can significantly increase your chances of doing well.

Fail to prepare, prepare to fail

Firstly let’s cover the basics of preparing ahead of an interview:

Where and when?

Make sure you know your travel route to the office and plan to arrive at least 10-15 minutes early. As my first boss used to tell me, “leave enough time to get lost twice!”

Dress code

If it isn’t obvious, ask what the standard company dress code is. Always dress smart. Remember, first impressions last!

Who are you meeting?

LinkedIn is your friend. Within five minutes you can have a good knowledge of your interviewer’s career background, skills, and maybe even personal interests.

Good is the enemy of great

So, that covers the basics and means you can be confident of a “good” interview experience. But let’s not settle for that. Now let’s consider how you can go from having one foot in the door, to kicking the door down!

Really understand the role

Are there other people in the company that do this role already? Do other companies hire for the same role? Find out what you can online about the sort of person who works in this position and think about how your skills and experience might be similar. Chat with family members or friends who have been in similar jobs or worked at similar companies.

Prepare for a range of questions

Interviews typically comprise both skills based and competency based questions. Skills based questions will revolve around your background and experience to date, so make sure you know your CV inside out! Competency based questions might start with “give me an example of a time when...” or “what would be your approach to the following…”. These questions are more difficult to predict and can sometimes put you on the spot, so be sure to spend time preparing good examples. There are also some common interview questions you can prepare about things like how you have overcome challenges and why you want to work for the company you're interviewing for.

Know the marketplace

Does the company have a physical product, build a technology, or offer a service? Who else does what they do, and what can you find out about their relative strengths and weaknesses? Researching the marketplace shows your proactivity and eagerness to learn.

Questions, questions, questions

It’s not always about knowing the answers in an interview. One of the most important interview tips to bare in mind is about asking the right questions. Really insightful questions will demonstrate your understanding of the company, help show off your research, and show the interviewer that you have really thought about the role. Prepare at least three to ask at the end of the interview. Good examples might include:

  • What does success look like in this role in 12 months time?
  • What do you think are the most important qualities for someone to be successful in the role?
  • I notice that you previously worked in XYZ. What made you decide to join this company?
  • I noticed XYZ on your website - what does this mean for the business day-to-day?
  • I gather that XYZ is a big competitor of yours - how do you differentiate yourself?

That’s it! These steps will help you be best placed going into any interview process. So put the kettle on, set aside a bit of time, and get cracking. A great job awaits!

“Success occurs when opportunity meets preparation” - Zig Ziglar
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