Job seekers: the preparation checklist for your next interview
So, congratulations on landing a job interview. Your résumé has impressed them, and now they want to hear more about you. You need to be at your best and show them you really want this position and more importantly that you can do the job. So how do you prepare for this when you have such a small window of opportunity to prove yourself?
So here is my preparation checklist. Some tips may seem obvious, but when nerves hit it’s easy to forget things.
Confirm all job and interview details
Firstly, make sure you confirm all job and interview details with the hiring manager / interviewer / recruiter such as:
- Job description
- Time and date (put this in your diary/calendar)
- Names of the interviewers
- If you’re going through a recruiter, ask them for any tips on their interview style, questions they might ask or what they want to see demonstrated
- What’s the anticipated length of the interview?
Do your homework
And don’t just do it the night before! Give yourself ample time to research and absorb key information so you can talk about it with confidence.
- You need to sell yourself. What makes you stand out? (And don’t just give a vanilla response).
- Imagine you’re already doing the job and see yourself performing tasks. How would you show you’re owning it and pushing for results?
- When talking about projects use ‘I’ and not ‘we’ to reflect what role you played in the process.
- They will feel flattered if you show passion for the company, so be enthusiastic about who they are. Be able to reel off a high-level company overview to show you have done your due diligence. Read the company website, check their tone of voice, look at their social media pages (how many followers?), review press releases and company results.
You might be asked:
- What you know about the company
- Why you want to work for them.
- Why are you the best person for the role?
- Here are some common interview questions:
Be prepared to talk about:
- What they do, divisions/products and a brief company history
- Latest news and other online presence, reviews (always check ratings against number of reviews)
- How successful their competitors are
- Values/culture/mission statement
- Key people – CEO, who would be in your team?
- Evidence you’ve been in the physical store, on their website or used apps
Look up who will be interviewing you and check their LinkedIn profile. How long have they worked there? What’s their career path? Do you have any common connections?
If they throw in some curveball questions such as, how weird are you on a scale of 1-10? then have a go. There won’t be a right or wrong answer but they want to see how you deal with the unexpected. Check out some tough questions you could prepare for here.
By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail
Put plenty of practice into saying your answers out loud and with confidence, get a friend to do a mock interview with you (not the night before).
- What would be your 30, 60 or 90 day plan? Identify a few quick wins
- Successful projects you’ve been a part of that you know inside out. Be able to summarise key points using S.T.A.R. (Situation, Task, Action, Result)
- Have an example of when you dropped the ball or something went sour. How did you save the day? When did you fess up and what did you learn?
- How do your colleagues describe you?
- Prepare a couple of relevant questions to ask them. eg. Where do they see the role going? What do they enjoy about the team? Make sure it’s role-related, don’t ask about salary (however if you’re going through a recruiter, know the rates your recruiter has put you forward for) and don’t ask sensitive business questions. Some other examples are here.
Remember that an interview is a two way conversation — it is also there for you to decide if this is the right step up in your career, so ask everything you need to confirm this.
You might want to consider taking a sample or portfolio of work along with you. This will demonstrate how your mind works, showcase technical skills and successes. Don’t just include polished pictures of the final result that look like any other stock image — these don’t represent the journey.
Look up the address and plan your route:
- Where can you park? How long is the walk from the station? (Did you check this with the hiring manager / interviewer / recruiter?)
- You should aim to turn up at least 5 minutes early (max 15mins), so work backwards to know what time you need to set off and then account for any delays.
- Feel free to take a printed job description (you can always annotate your experience against job requirements to give you prompts)
- A copy of your résumé won’t go amiss in case interviewers aren’t as prepared as you
- A pad and pen — don’t be embarrassed to take notes during the interview or refer to any preparation notes (as long as you’re not reading verbatim)
- Your presentation (if appropriate)
- Water, mints, deodorant, tissues…. I digress.
Plan your outfit. You should dress to impress, but don’t go over the top! Look smart.
Don’t have a late night!
On the day
Save the embarrassment from rumbling stomachs and consider eating something light beforehand, nothing smelly or has the risk of sticking to your teeth.
Be sure to turn up at the right place at the right time. If you do run into trouble, ring the interviewer or your recruiter so they can update relevant persons.
- Keep your electronics in your pocket and on silent
- Have a firm handshake (first impressions count)
- Sit properly! No perching on the edge of the seat, slouching, reclining or swinging on the chair.
- Look the interviewer/s in the eye to show them confidence
- No swearing and don’t try to be a show-off or tell bad jokes. Definitely no arrogance!
- Don’t talk over the interviewer or interrupt them. Listen and don’t let your mind wander off
- Think about your answers before blurting anything out — be succinct and don’t waffle. You can bide your time with a sip of water if you need to think
- Show some personality. You’ll spend a lot of time with colleagues so they need to see you will fit in
At the end of the interview ask them what the next process is and when you can expect to hear from them? If you’re bold enough, then ask if they see you being a fit for the role?
Finally, thank them for the opportunity and say you look forward to hearing feedback.
Phew, you’ve done it. If you have a recruiter, ring them and give them feedback. Share how long it lasted, what went well, did you build rapport, can you see yourself working there and do you want to move onto the next stage. If there’s anything you missed getting across let the recruiter know as they can say this on your behalf.
Hiring managers may wait until they’ve interviewed other candidates before they can give feedback. If you go through a recruiter, rest assured — we’re chasing this for you to give you the good news or constructive feedback – every interview is great practice.
Go forth and land that job!