Congratulations! You’ve landed an interview for that job you applied for.
It is of course natural to feel some nerves and a bit of apprehension about interviewing for a job but in my opinion, human beings aren’t necessarily innately comfortable with blowing their own horn about what makes them a better, more suitable candidate than the next person.
This article will look at some considerations and steps you can take to better prepare for a job interview to feel more comfortable, confident and prepared to best communicate your unique skills and offerings to prospective employers.
What to do before an interview
- Do your research.
- Prepare questions you have for the employer.
- Arrive five to ten minutes early.
- Briefly review your notes.
- Stay calm and focus on your body language.
- Read the room.
The day is here and your heart may be beating a little faster than usual. Anticipation and anxiety can throw a spanner in the works even for the most prepared and relaxed interviewee. Harnessing your energy and emotions 15 minutes before your interview time
can make all the difference to how you approach the experience and the vibe a potential employer picks up on.
1. Do your research.
It’s worth pulling up the company’s website, as well as any relevant social platforms, (i.e. Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram etc.) to refresh your knowledge about its ethos, offering, portfolio of clients and mission. It can also arm you with some additional, relevant talking points.
2. Prepare questions you have for the employer.
When I was a senior account manager at my previous PR agency, I always valued interviewees who would come equipped with thoughtful and pertinent questions about the business, role and/or company culture. It demonstrated that they were invested in the position and were genuinely interested in understanding how they could best contribute to the team.
3. Arrive five to ten minutes early.
As far as I’m concerned, there are few things that look worse to a prospective employer than tardiness to an interview. It shows a lack of planning, respect for their time and overall, a general lack of awareness. So be sure to prepare for traffic, the time it takes to park or other delays (trains are notorious for throwing a spanner in the pursuit of punctuality) when planning your commute.
4. Briefly review your notes.
You’re not studying for a three hour exam here; this is more just a quick refresh to be sure your thoughts are concise and in order and you remember exactly what you want to discuss or ask during your interview. It will help to avoid waffling on or beating around the bush.
5. Stay calm and focus on your body language.
Taking three deep breaths before an interview and centering your thoughts around positive affirmations (i.e. I’m qualified for this job / there is a lot I can bring to the table / I’m likeable and a team player) can be super helpful before walking into the interview room. Remember to stand up straight, walk with purpose, maintain eye contact and offer a firm handshake (if appropriate and safe during COVID times). This will resonate positively with prospective employers.
6. Read the room.
Is the overall vibe more casual or corporate? Is the space playful and warm or more conservative and traditional? Taking in elements like this will help you better gauge what to expect in terms of working environment and an overall impression of the image the company is wanting to portray.
What to say at the beginning of an interview
It might seem commonsense, but displaying genuine politeness and sincerity will take you far.
Reiterating that it’s “nice to meet you” and expressing gratitude to them for taking the time to meet with you goes a long way.
Ensuring they know you are familiar with the company, across the particular role being offered and that you are open to learning more about what they are looking for gets things off on the right foot, demonstrating proactivity and receptiveness.
What are the 10 most common interview questions?
Having an idea of what an interviewer is likely to ask you can be helpful in preparing formulated, well thought out responses. However, don’t be alarmed if they pull a rabbit out of the bag to see how well you think on your feet (refer to tip #10).
What are your weaknesses?
Why should we hire you?
Why do you want to work here?
What are your goals?
Why did you leave (or why are you leaving) your last job?
When were you most satisfied in your previous job?
What differentiates you from other candidates?
What are three positive things your last boss would say about you?
What salary are you looking for?
If you could be any animal, what would you want to be and why?
5 tips for answering interview questions about your work style
In addition to experience and skill set, prospective employers want to gain a better insight into who you are and what makes you tick in terms of work style. For example, some people thrive in collaborative, high energy environments while others shine when their days are centred more around autonomous activity and quieter spaces.
It’s less about whether you’re a “good communicator” or a strong “people person” (please, please avoid these cliche responses) and more about how your performance is improved or hampered by external and internal factors.
Speed and accuracy - whether you work quickly and effectively or are more deliberate and considered in your approach
Your organisational strategies - do you prefer to tick off easier tasks first or tackle the most difficult part of your day before anything else?
Are you a team player or invigorated by independence? Even if you prefer to work alone, be sure to emphasise you value the contribution of others
The management approach you respond best to - do you prefer being given directions that are closely managed or simply being designated a task and left alone to complete it?
Communication preferences say a lot about us - email or phone? In person meetings? Consider this carefully
How can I impress the interviewer?
As naff as it may sound - be yourself. Prospective employers value honesty, integrity and sincerity. Speak clearly and confidently and take pride in your achievements and experience. But be sure they know you are keen to grow, be challenged and find ways to improve and expand on your offering.
What should you not say in an interview?
Even if you left your last job with a bad taste in your mouth, never ever rag on your past company or boss. That’s rule number one. It’s also worth avoiding cliches like, “I’m a people person”, “I think outside the box” or “my greatest weakness is being a perfectionist” . Also try to avoid filler words like...well, “like” and “um”. And at the end of the interview, when they ask if you have any questions, be sure you have something up your sleeve - don’t say “nope, no questions”.
At the end of the day, it’s worth remembering the person interviewing you once sat in the same seat you do; they can empathise with any nerves or hesitation you may be feeling. So, take a deep breath, stay true to yourself, speak with candour and remember everything you have to give. If a prospective employer thinks you’re worthy of the time to interview you should be sure to keep that in mind, too!
If you're looking for more content that can help you excel in your next job interview, be sure to subscribe to Upskilled's SkillsTalk blog. You'll be sent a weekly newsletter highlighting our blogs, ranging from key tips on your job search or writing up an effective resume before making an application to a prospective employer.
Katie Quirk is a PR and communications professional who has almost a decade of experience working with clients across a myriad of industries under her belt, including several in the education, government, not-for-profit and business sectors. In October 2019, Katie launched her own consultancy Katie Quirk Communications and is passionate about continuing to use her professional skill set to help inspire, encourage and ignite positive change within the community.