Here’s how to effectively prepare for a job interview

By Hannah Kingston

Friday September 18, 2020

shaking-hands-at-job-interview

A job interview can be a special type of torture but it doesn’t have to be. Prepare to fail and, you know the rest.

Most people who have secured a job while working either part or full-time know that it’s takes a lot of time, effort and juggling when you are actively trying to seek out a new opportunity, while ensuring that everything else is ticking along smoothly.

So how can you effectively prepare for a job interview? Here is a tried and tested formula that will ensure that you are best prepared when D day comes.

12 tips to prepare for a job interview

  1. Read the job spec and be honest with yourself
  2. Research the company to a Sherlock Holmes standard
  3. Consider why you have gotten to the interview stage
  4. Identify your unique selling points
  5. Write out a list of common interview questions with your corresponding answers
  6. Mind map the role requirements and how you relate to each
  7. Look for recent media mentions on the organization
  8. Do a practice interview with a peer
  9. Print your CV and cover letter and re-read them
  10. Formulate thoughtful questions for your interviewer
  11. Plan your job interview look
  12. Plan your route to the job interview

Read the job spec and be honest with yourself

Read the job spec and be really honest with yourself. Where are your strengths and weaknesses within the role? If you can identify both now, it will save from not knowing how to answer confidently when you are face to face with your interviewer.

For instance, if you interview asks you what you think you would struggle with the most in the role, you do not want to respond with “Ummm” or “Nothing”. It is best that you know the answers to these questions before you are faced with them.

The best way to tackle a strengths and weaknesses question is to say something along the lines of “I think X task could be challenging at times, but I enjoy a challenge and would like to grow and develop in this role, as well as contributing to it.”

Research the company to a Sherlock Holmes standard

It’s unlikely that an interviewer will ask granular questions on the organization such as when it was founded or who the 2007 CEO was. It would be pretty cruel if they did.

They will however, likey ask an open ended questions such as “So, tell me what you know about the organization”, “What made you want to apply?” or “How did you hear about us?”

You don’t want a generic answer such as “The company culture seems decent.” or “I think I would fit in well with the team.” Anyone could say that, and you don’t want to be anyone, you want to be the person that sticks out in the interviewer’s mind so instead say, “I value that [specific fact about the company].”

It shows that you are passionate about working with the organization, and that it’s not just another pay check.

Consider why you have gotten to the interview stage

Considering why you have been chosen for the interview stage is a confidence boosting exercise. Recall your cover letter, CV and a phone interview that potentially happened before you progressed. What strengths do you think you showcased during that process?

If you look at a job interview as a getting to know you session, it can go a long way to take the stress out of everything. Potential employers care about your qualifications and experience, but they also want to visualize how you would slot into the team. Being yourself and staying true to your personality is essential in a job interview, as that’s the you they will be getting on an on-going basis in the future.

Identify your unique selling points

Another confidence boosting exercise. What do you have that others don’t. Other applicants will likely have similar qualifications and years of experience. What do you bring that’s different?

Identifying your unique selling points helps you to show a potential employer why you are the right person for the role if you can think of experiences where you led a team, or have data to back up a time when you spearheaded growth in a company, you are building up a picture of what you can contribute to the team if you are hired.

Write out a list of common interview questions with your corresponding answers

It may be time consuming but it could be a saving grace on the day. Write out common interview questions such as the dreaded “Tell me about yourself” question to avoid the “mmming” or “ahhing” between, or even worse, your mind just totally emptying when put on the spot.

You don’t have to recite what you have written word for word but writing it down will help with recall memory so you don’t miss a beat.

Mind map the role requirements and how you relate to each

Potential employers will often revert to the role requirements as stipulated on a job spec. You should have all of these role requirements and how you relate to each in the back of your mind, so when they ask you to specificy examples of when you have carried out a certain task, or how you would go about X task, you don’t have to dig too deep in the memory bank.

Look for recent media mentions on the organization

If there is a recent (positive) media mention of a particular organization, dropping it into conversation will show that you have put the research in, extra brownie points and it only takes a quick Google search.

Do a practice interview with a peer

Yes, it might feel silly but it could be your saving grace! A trusted friend or family member will be able to tell you if you have any habits such as using repetitive filler words, fidgeting or avoiding eye contact. It’s best to tackle these habits now instead of when you’re face to face with a potential employer.

Print your CV and cover letter and re-read them

Potential employers will often revert back to your CV and cover letter, they may ask you to “talk them through it” (another open ended question which can invite a lack of structure, or rambling).

Printing off your CV and cover letter will help you to remember what you said as well as why you are the perfect candidate for the role.

For extra clarity, highlight the areas of your CV that are most specific to the job you are applying for.

Formulate thoughtful questions for your interviewer

It always looks better if you have thoughtful questions for your interviewer, whether it’s about company values, culture or what a day to day looks like in the office, having questions to ask helps to open up the conversation around the role more.

If you genuinely can’t think of one question to ask, let your interviewer know that for now, they have answered everything you need to know throughout the interview but would it be okay for you to email any follow ups you might have in the next few days.

It’s always good to have a few up your sleeve instead of saying that you have no questions at all or you may come across as disinterested.

Plan your job interview look

There are few things that you can control during an interview but how you look is one of them! Take a look at some of the workforce’s outfits via a sneaky LinkedIn search. Gauge what dress code is within the organization and match up.

They say dress for the job you want, not the job you have. This saying applies here!

Plan your route to the job interview

Running late is never a good look, especially not for a job interview. Plan your route and give yourself plenty of buffer time to take a breath before it begins. Grab a drink in a nearby cafe and read over your notes, remind yourself that you have got this!

Best of luck!

Now read: How to get a promotion in the public sector: 10 tips for getting ahead

Now read: Common interview questions and how to tackle them 

 

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