Preparing for a Job Interview

The job interview is a crucial part of your job search. It’s an opportunity for the employer to evaluate your suitability for the role, and for you to determine if the role and organisation are right for you.

Importance of preparation

It is absolutely critical that you take some time out to prepare before attending any job interview. Even if it is framed as just an ‘informal’ meeting, turning up to an interview prepared is a sign of respect and can demonstrate your interest in the role.

Research, research, research

Prior to your interview, make sure you conduct thorough background research. Focus on the following areas:

The company: Although you may have a company brief, it is your job to build on this and ensure you have a comprehensive overview of the company structure, vision and market positioning. The organisation’s website is always a good place to start, however also keep an eye out for media releases, annual reports, mission statements and news articles. Be sure you are familiar with the products and/or services the company offers.

The industry: In addition to company research, it is worth doing a quick search on the industry generally and keeping an eye out for industry specific issues and news. If there are particularly relevant events or pressures facing the industry, understanding these can help you demonstrate your knowledge and build rapport with your interviewers.

Be familiar with potential competitors and visit their websites too; keeping up to date on the latest industry trends and innovation is crucial for potential candidates and appeals to hiring managers.

The position: Read and review the position description, advertisement and your own application. You have been invited to an interview based on the relevance of your skills to the competencies required; now it is time to refresh and think about how you will prove or demonstrate this in person.

As you read through the required competencies, try to think of examples that highlight your skills in that area. For example, “strong stakeholder management” could relate to a time when you have needed to resolve an issue or consult closely with a lot of different business units or colleagues.

The interview

First impressions count. Positive body language is vital, so be aware of your tone, eye contact and how you are positioned in the chair throughout the interview.

Make sure you have identified situational examples for behavioural based questions you might be asked. The STAR method is an effective way to ensure you articulate your experience in a clear and concise manner, while covering all relevant details.

S’ situation – ‘What was the situation or the problem I needed to solve?’

T’ task – ‘What task/s did I perform?’

‘A’ action – ‘What action did I take?’

‘R’ result – ‘What result did I achieve?’

Listen actively and ask questions

One of the best ways to demonstrate your knowledge and to engage your interviewers in conversation is to ask open and relevant questions. Be careful not to ask basic questions that you should know the answer to. Think, of how you can add value to the business, either through reduced costs or increased profits. For example, “If I’m successful in obtaining this position, what do you think will be my biggest challenge?”

Some standard questions you could prepare in advance are:

  • Why is the role available?
  • What goals and objectives are set-forth within the role? (Tie this in with how you can help your prospective manager achieve their objectives)
  • What are the key initiatives for the first 6 months of the role?
  • Who are the key stakeholder groups for the role?
  • Where do you see the role in 1, 3, or 5 years?
  • How would you describe the company culture?
  • What does success look like (in the role / company)?
  • What motivates you at the company?
  • How is loyalty and hard work rewarded at the company?

Finally...

In case of a completely unavoidable situation, make sure you have the contact details of the person you are meeting with, or your recruiter and give them a quick courtesy call to explain.

Top tips:

  • Prepare and research.
  • Prepare a brief summary on why you are right for the role.