For many people, the most challenging part of the job search process is the interview. Even some of the most experienced candidates deal with nerves when going to an interview.
After all, between applying for the job, writing a compelling cover letter and refining your resume, much of the hard work has been done. The interview stage is the last mile of the process – though, the most important one – and it can come with added pressure.
That said, the most seasoned interviewees will tell you a few nerves are normal, and even helpful, before an interview. With the right approach, you can turn that sense of anticipation into excitement and eagerness for the job – and demonstrate why you’re the best fit for the role.
Follow these guidelines to successfully prepare for your next interview.
Research the company
Before you get to the interview, it’s vital to do your homework about the company and the person you will be working for. Visit the company’s website and LinkedIn profile to find out everything you can about the company's key products and services, target markets, recent events, structure, culture and future direction.
Researching the company will help you to better understand where your role fits and your knowledge will boost your credibility with the interviewer.
Your interview preparation should also include reading trade publications and newspaper/magazine articles. These will give you an insight into the company’s reputation, major competitors and wider industry challenges.
Additionally, find out as much as you can about the person who will be interviewing you. And talk to people: if you happen to know someone who works there or has worked there before, they could be a source of valuable inside information.
Review the job description
It could be weeks since you initially applied for the job, so make sure to refresh your memory ahead of the interview. Carefully examine all the information you have about the role, including the job description and job listing. Make notes about how your skills and experience align to the role.
Doing so is not only useful for preparing relevant responses, but also for forming intelligent questions to ask during the interview.
Practise your responses… and your questions
Rehearsing your responses is one of the most critical steps in interview preparation. Try to anticipate the questions you might be asked and make sure that when they come, you are not answering them for the first time.
For each potential question, prepare practical examples that demonstrate how you responded to the task/situation and specify the positive outcome. Rehearse your responses with a friend and ask for feedback on whether your responses are coming across coherently and succinctly.
Also, prepare some questions you can ask towards the end of the interview. Choose questions that are relevant to the role and the company, and avoid topics like salary and benefits – these discussions can happen further down the track if you’re offered the role.
Play to your strengths
The key to presenting yourself in the best possible light is to know your key strengths and be able to communicate them convincingly. Not everyone is naturally enthusiastic or winsome in an interview setting – and that’s okay. However, it’s important to have confidence in your professional experience and abilities and be able to articulate these strengths.
The interview is your opportunity to sell yourself, so be sure to have prepared examples of what makes you a compelling candidate. Review the key achievements from your resume so they are top of mind when responding to questions, and use them to demonstrate how you can meet the needs of the employer better than any other applicant.
And don’t forget an interview should be a two-way conversation, not an interrogation. Don’t be afraid to ask sensible and pertinent questions, because this is your opportunity to find out if the role is the right fit for you and your career needs.
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