Setting the stage for a great interview

You have the interview for your perfect job, as the big day approaches you are full of nerves and anticipation. Will they like me? How many other people are going for the job?

How can I improve my chance of success? The great news is that getting to the interview stage means they have already expressed a keen interest in you, so now it is all about preparation and rehearsal to ensure you give a great performance.   

Find out as much as possible about the company

Soak up as much information as you can. Visit the website and learn about its products, services and customers. Do a Google search to find out whether there have been any big announcements, and (if they are positive) remember to mention it when you meet your interviewer. At the same time, take the opportunity to learn a little about your interviewer, they may have a profile on the company website and will almost certainly be on LinkedIn.

Know your CV inside out

Your CV got you the interview, so now you need to be able to discuss (not read) it eloquently. Look at how you can draw attention to your achievements and demonstrate the impact you made during your time with each company. You may be quizzed about why you left each role and asked to explain any significant gaps in your career history. 

Prepare for questioning

The job of the interviewer is to find out if you have the necessary aptitude and experience to do the job, and whether you would fit in with the existing team and company culture. These are some of the questions you are most likely to be asked…

  • Why do you want this job?
  • What do you know about our company?
  • Why did you choose your profession?
  • What are your strengths/weaknesses?
  • What do you like/dislike about your current job?
  • Why are you looking for a new position?
  • What has been the biggest challenge in your career to date?
  • What has been your greatest achievement to date?
  • How would your friends/colleagues describe you?
  • What is your plan for the next 2/5/10 years?

Before you answer each question, pause (taking a sip of water is a subtle way to buy time, so be sure to accept their offer of a drink at the start). It is better to take your time and give an exemplary answer rather than rushing through with a wrong answer.

Depending on the role you are interviewing for, and the job title of the interviewer, the questions may be more specific. For example, HR will want to know more about you as a person, whereas your prospective line manager will want to know if you can deliver. If you do not understand a question, don't guess, ask them to explain further. If you do not know something remain confident, admit as much and explain how you would go about finding the answer.

An interview is a two-way process so ask plenty of the right questions

The interview is as much about you learning if the role is right for you, as whether you are right for the role, so ask plenty of insightful questions such as…

  • What would my first month in the role look like?
  • What are the biggest challenges facing the company this year?
  • What do you like about working here?

Leave them wanting more

You dressed to impress, arrived on time, greeted your interviewer with a warm smile and a firm handshake and diligently answered and asked questions. Now as the interview concludes you need to be ready to finish as strongly as you started.  

At the end of the interview, ask the interviewer how they felt it went and when you can expect to hear from them. You should also let them know you’re interested in the role and thank them for their time. Also, be sure to send a timely and concise follow-up letter or email, thanking the interviewer once again and reiterating your interest in the role.

An interview provides a rare opportunity to proudly talk about your skills, experience, abilities and ambitions, and is your gateway to fantastic career opportunities. The time you spend preparing will ensure you leave your interview confident that you have given the best account of yourself that you possibly can.