June 21, 2023

Preparing for your Job Interview

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A job interview can be nerve-wracking. Preparation is essential to improve your chances. Here are some tips to help you get ahead!

You’ve sent out your resumé, gone past the initial selection, received a phone call and been invited to an interview. Yes! What next? Preparation, of course! It will make all the difference between acing the interview or slinking out with your tail between your legs. 

Before the Job Interview

Study the job description carefully.

Put your resume next to it. Take note of the areas where your skills and experience converge with the tasks and responsibilities listed. Be sure to talk about these points during the job interview.

Study the job description

Prepare your pitch and key messages.

Communications professionals advise clients to have three main points for interviews, presentations and the like. This will be handy in a job interview too. Have your three key selling points at the tip of your fingers. Ideally, they should match the job description.

You may also want to be prepared with other talking points such as your achievements, hard and soft skills, experience, qualifications, and so on. 

Research the organisation or company thoroughly.

This one seems obvious. However, a large number of job seekers show up completely blank. They know nothing about the organisation that they’re hoping to work for! Also, aim to go further than just a cursory glance at the organisation’s website. Do a deep dive. Search for recent mentions of the organisation in the media. Peruse their social media. If it’s a listed company, check the latest annual report. Find out who the top management is.

Research on the company or organisation

Also, read about the company in industry publications and dig up reviews from clients and partners. Understand the key products or services. Research who their main competitors are, what challenges the organisation faces, and its strategies for the near future. Talk to people who worked or are working there.

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Find out who your interviewers will be.

Research them too. If your potential direct supervisor will be the interviewer, check LinkedIn to develop some idea of what his or her job scope is. It would be useful to gauge his or her working style and challenges faced, and if you are able to fill in the gaps. 

Where social media is concerned, remember that it works both ways: your potential employer can check you out too. You may want to think about cleaning up some of your previous posts.

Prepare answers to some common job interview questions.

Even if these questions don’t come up, your answers will make good talking points. Some of these may include:

  • Why should we hire you?
  • Why do you want to work with us?
  • Why are you looking for a new job?
  • Where do you see yourself in five years?
  • How do you handle challenges or difficult situations?
  • Describe three of your weaknesses

Prepare questions for your interviewer.

This is also a good opportunity to show that you have done your homework on the role and the organisation. Some typical questions include:

  • What is a typical day or week like for the person in this position?
  • What is the size and structure of the team?
  • Can you describe what the ideal candidate for this position is like?
  • What are the training and development opportunities in this organisation?

Print all relevant documents

Bring the documents along to the interview, especially your resumé. You can glance at it to jog your memory if needed. You can even hand them out to your interviewers if they don’t have a copy. More points for you! Other documents include your educational certificates, personal identification, testimonials and reference letters. You may also want a pen and notebook to take notes.

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Plan your job interview outfit

If you’ve done your homework on company culture, you’d have some idea of what the employees wear. However, it’s usually better to err on the side of caution and dress in business formal.

Remember to style your hair neatly and trim your nails. Check your teeth and breath closer to the time of the interview. You want to look smart and groomed.
Be well-groomed and smart looking for your interview

Remember to style your hair neatly and trim your nails. Check your teeth and breath closer to the time of the interview. You want to look smart and groomed. Besides projecting a good image to your potential boss, looking your best will boost your confidence.

Plan your route and the travel time

Find out how long it takes to get to your interview location at one hour before the interview. Check bus or train schedules and stops. Find nearby parking areas. In fact, it would be a good idea to travel to the location at the same time the day before to gauge how much time it takes. Factor in some extra time to make sure you arrive early, catch your breath, and use the washroom.

On the night before, make sure you get a full night’s rest. You want to be alert, quick-witted, and your best self the next day. 

During the Job Interview

Once you’ve arrived, treat everyone you meet with courtesy because you never know if you might face them in the interview room!

It’s important to make a strong first impression. Be confident, be friendly, and look professional. Look like you’re happy to be there. Have a firm handshake, speak clearly, make eye contact, and wait to be invited to sit. Remember to switch off your phone. Or at least put it on silent mode.

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A firm handshake creates a strong impression of confidence
A firm handshake conveys confidence

Some interviewers say that they know within the first five minutes if it’s a yes or no. So do your best to create an impression (a good one, of course) and keep a positive energy going. The hiring manager or your future boss could have a whole bunch of job interviews lined up for the day. They may be tired or distracted, so make yourself memorable. Keep a laser focus on them, be attentive, really listen and present answers that will impress. Now is the time to put all that homework and research to use!

After the Job Interview

Follow up with a thank you note. Many interviewees forget this final but important step, so you will stand out if you do it right. Be sure to send it within 48 hours of your interview. You can also make a final pitch in your note by reminding your interviewer of your strengths, qualifications, and why you’d make a great addition to the team.

What’s Next

Everything gets easier with practice and preparing for a job interview is no different. Have mock interviews with friends or mentors and get their honest feedback. Ask them to check your resumé too. Practice your sales pitch in front of a mirror. You may also consider undergoing coaching, or even a behavioural assessment to understand yourself better. This will help to present your best self to potential employers.