Securing an interview is the crucial first step towards getting a job, but performing in the interview itself is a different ball game. To be invited for an interview you’ve obviously managed to impress the prospective employer on paper, but then you’ll want to do the same in person.
It’s natural to be nervous about interviews, but doing as much preparation as possible beforehand will give you the best possible chance of performing on the day. It’s amazing how many people overlook the most basic interview rules:
The first thing I advise each of my candidates when they are offered an interview is to find out everything they can about their potential employer. Looking at the website is an obvious place to start; use it to get a general impression of the employer. However, there are also some key questions you should be asking yourself to improve your understanding on the type of company they are, and what they are looking for in an employee: What does the employer do? Who are their target customers, clients or audience? What is the job likely to involve? What skills does the job require?
2) Recap your own application
It might sounds strange, but the second thing I advise my customers to do is study their own CV. Being able to talk confidently about your CV is essential for appearing competent in an interview. Don’t let yourself down by not being able to elaborate on something you’ve written about yourself. An employer will usually use your CV and application as a starting point to find out more about you and your ability to perform the job advertised. Make sure you can elaborate but don’t lie – you should be able to talk with assurance about your past experiences and skills.
3) Anticipate Questions
Once you’re up to speed on the employer and your own CV, it’s time to think about the format of the interview itself. Find out all you can about what the interview will involve. Don’t feel shy about contacting the organiser of your interview to ask about the specifics. For example, will there be a written test? Who will be conducting the interview and what is their position within the company?
Armed with this information, you can start to think about the sort of questions you might be asked. Put yourself in the shoes of the employer and consider what you would be looking for in a new member of staff. With this in mind you can prepare some answers, thinking specifically about how the skills and experience you have relate to the job. If you need a bit of help regarding questions that an interviewer might ask, Directgov has a list of popular interview questions and some suggested answers.
4) Practice makes perfect
I always advise customers to rehearse answering questions out loud with a friend or family member – it’s useful to hear how they sound. Practising with someone else also creates a more realistic interview scenario and will prepare you better for the real thing.
5) Organisation is key
On the day itself, looking the part will help you feel the part. Not every job requires that you turn up to an interview in a suit; consider what is appropriate for the company. Don’t leave this until the last minute either. I suggest thinking about what you will wear well in advance, and getting your outfit ready the day before to prevent any last minute fluster.
Give yourself enough time to get ready and leave the house early to make sure you arrive on time. You should aim to arrive about ten minutes before the interview is due to start. There’s nothing worse than rushing to interview in a panic. If you are delayed, contact the employer as soon as possible to explain, apologise and arrange another appointment.
I recommend my candidates use their travelling time to focus their mind, perhaps by running through some questions or taking some prompt cards to look over on the train.
Once in the interview itself, it’s important that you stay calm. Remember, they’ve asked you in because they have been impressed by your application, so try to relax and remind yourself that you’ve got nothing to lose. An interview is your opportunity to prove that you’re the best person for the job.
Jobcentre Plus Adviser