Preparing for a job interview
Taking the time to prepare for an interview in advance can help you secure a job offer. Here’s how to research the job and company, how to practice interview questions and answers, how to dress for the interview, how to follow up after the interview, and more interview preparation tips.
Review the Job Advertisement
When reviewing a job advertisement it’s important to read and then re-read the job advertisement and review the key words used; look for personal qualities, skills and the essential and desirable criteria.
Spend some time thinking about how you meet each of those and, come up with examples of how you demonstrate this. You may be asked about this during the interview and it is helpful to be prepared.
Research the Company
Get to know your potential employer. Review their company website, in particular the “About us” sections, and view their social media platforms. This will give you insight into the history and current practices of the company, and where their current focus lies.
If you know someone that works for the organisation it might be worth asking them about the company also.
Practice Potential Interview Questions
Take the time to practice answering potential interview questions you will probably be asked during a job interview. This will help give you a chance to prepare and practice answers and will also help calm your nerves because you won’t be scrambling for an answer while you’re in the interview hot seat.
Practice interviewing with a friend or family member ahead of time and it will be much easier when you’re actually in a job interview. If you don’t have someone to practice with, speak your answers to potential interview questions out loud, and do this several times until your answer flows smoothly.
This document (Interview Preparation – Liability, Accessibility and Transport) also has some information that might help you in your interview.
Prepare your Travel Plans
Consider how you will get to the interview. Would you feel more confident if you went on a practice run, especially if you will be walking or catching public transport? Ensure that you are aware of any track work or service disruptions.
If you’d prefer to book a taxi, consider traffic conditions and where possible, book in advance.
If you prefer to have an informal support person or a support worker take you make sure they have the address and know where you’re going. They may be able to assist you to the door, or possibly the reception desk, however once there it is probably best for them to leave and meet you once you are done.
Get Your Interview Clothes Ready
Don’t wait until the last minute to make sure your interview clothes are ready. Have an interview outfit ready at all times so you don’t have to think about what you’re going to wear while you’re scrambling to get ready for a job interview. Ensure your clothes are clean and free from any damage, marks and wrinkles. It is always a good idea to have a second person check them over.
Regardless of the type of job you’re interviewing for, that first impression needs to be a great one. When dressing for an interview for a professional position, dress accordingly in business attire. For men, this involves dress pants, a collared shirt and perhaps a tie and jacket. For woman, long tailored pants or a skirt with a blouse or shirt, or a corporate dress or suit is ideal.
If you’re applying for a job in a more casual environment, such as a store or restaurant, it’s still important to be neat, tidy, and well-groomed, and to present a positive image to the employer.
Keep your hair neat and tidy; men, trim any facial hair and ladies, ensure your hair is neatly styled and is not going to distract you during the interview. If you are someone who fidgets with their hair it may be best to tie it back in a ponytail, braid or bun.
It is also important to think about your makeup and accessories when dressing for an interview. Keep them simple and understated. And, don’t forget your shoes. Ensure they are clean and polished.
If you’re having trouble finding appropriate interview clothes, one of the services listed here may be able to assist you, or read this article written by Kathie Elliot of Square Peg Consulting.
Get a good night’s sleep
Go to bed early, power down your technology, read a book and sleep early.
Eat a good breakfast
Make sure you eat a good breakfast or meal before your interview. You don’t want to be hungry or have stomach rumbles during your interview.
It’s a good idea to eat before you dress just in case you drop any food. Avoid eating garlic or highly scented foods and be sure to brush your teeth.
What to bring
Items to bring include a portfolio with extra copies of your resume, a list of references and a list of questions to ask the interviewer.
It’s also important to know what not to bring, including your mobile phone (or at least turn your phone off), a cup of coffee, loose papers or documents, gum, or anything else beyond yourself and your credentials.
If the Interviewer has asked you to bring identification or any other documents with you, ensure you have those on hand as well.
At the Interview
Greet everyone with a smile
Be polite and professional to everyone you meet; you never know who has influence over what decision.
Adopt a professional approach when you’re sat waiting for the interview, using positive, confident body language. Now is not the time to check your social media accounts or WhatsApp your friends. Instead, switch your phone off before you enter the building and leave it alone until afterwards.
It is possible that when you arrive at an interview you may be asked to complete some paperwork. If you are not able to do this, you have a couple of options.
If you feel comfortable, you can explain that you are not able to complete the paperwork by hand, however if someone is available to assist you can provide them with the answers.
You could request the papers be sent to you in a format that will allow you to complete them electronically and then return them. If you choose this option ensure you return the papers promptly, preferably within 24 hours.
There is no right or wrong answer here, you need to choose the option you are most comfortable with depending on the situation.
Whatever the option you choose, remain positive and solutions focussed.
Responding to Interview Questions
When you’re in the interview itself, take your time to consider your answers before responding to questions. Don’t be afraid to ask the interviewer to repeat the question if you didn’t take it all in the first time; some questions are long and complex and it’s good to be clear on exactly what is being asked to ensure you provide all of the required information.
Come prepared with some questions of your own. This will show the employer you are interested and have put thought and consideration into the interview.
Questions could be as simple as asking for an explanation of the recruitment process from here; will there be a second round of interviews? Will unsuccessful candidates be notified? What is the employer’s preferred starting date?
Thank the Interviewers
Before leaving, thank the interviewers for their time. Interviewing is a long and tiring process and it is nice to show gratitude for the interviewers’ time. Displaying your professional courtesy will never go against you either.
You may even wish to send a thank you email approximately 24 hours after the interview, if you have the correct contact details.
After the Interview
If you don’t hear anything within a week, don’t be afraid to call and ask about your application. Hopefully, there will be good news for you. If not, remain professional and take the opportunity to ask for feedback; were there any areas of weakness that you could improve on to increase your chances of succeeding next time?