At Start Me Up, we offer advice everything from nailing job interviews and applications to upskilling, as part of our Career Kickstarter Program.
Interviews are an essential part of most job applications. Interviews will usually involve a single candidate meeting with between one and three employees from a firm.
Job interviews will usually feature questions about a candidate’s previous experience, their personality and their skills.
Before the Interview
Know the job description. You need to know why you want the position and be able to express your passion for it, so make sure you know exactly what you’d be doing in the role. This’ll also help you to list relevant skills and experiences, proving you’re qualified for the role.
Do your research
Without doing your research beforehand, it’s unlikely you’ll excel in an interview. You need to know about the company’s culture and values. You can find out lots of this information online and from current or former employees.
Try to have a working knowledge of the product or service the company offers and sign up (if possible) before the interview if you can. This shows you’ve done your research and really do want to work for the company.
Again, learn a lot about the role. Go beyond memorizing the job description.
Checking Glassdoor reviews is one way to learn about typical working hours and what it’s really like to work for a company (the reviews are anonymized so most likely truthful). Make sure the role and the company are right for you.
Keep up to date on the news. If you can, read about what the company has been up to recently and any breakthroughs in the industry. You can check the company’s social media and hunt for any new product releases/project proposals.
Having done your research, the interview process should be less nerve-wracking. It can also spark interview conversation, which is always a bonus.
Interviewers may recycle questions and you can find lists online of the ‘Top 10 Most Asked Interview Questions’ etc. Prepare answers for the most common questions and practice always including your experiences and linking them back to how they’ll help you in the role.
Practice the way you answer the questions as well as the content. You don’t want to appear too nervous in an interview, so try to build your confidence beforehand by taking part in mock interviews with family and friends.
Work on your posture, body language, smile and handshake. Try recording yourself (cringey but can be helpful).
Prepare Thoughtful Questions
Preparing questions beforehand can take some of the pressure off you during the interview. Use your questions as an opportunity to find out a bit more about the company and whether working for them would suit you.
For example, you could ask the interviewer about their experience working for the company, about the next steps in the hiring process or even what a typical day would look like.
Asking questions demonstrates your interest in the role and the company and well-thought out questions will impress the interviewer.
You’ll make a better impression on the employers and you’ll be less stressed, hopefully leading to better performance.
Think before you speak
It’s okay to pause and think before answering a difficult question. You can plan what you’re going to say, and you’ll likely perform better than if you were to rush into an answer.
It’s also perfectly okay to ask for clarification if you don’t understand a question, or if you want a bit more time to come up with an answer.
Have a cheat sheet
Interview questions can be unpredictable. Note down your most relevant skills and experience beforehand and be prepared to use them to answer a variety of tricky questions.
Know what type of interview it is
Interviews are formatted in a variety of ways. Skills-based and personality-based are two of the most widely used formats.
To ensure you’re fully prepared, try to find out what format the interview will be in beforehand.
Sending a thank you note shows that you’re interested in the position. It can also remind the employer that you’re a good candidate for the position.
It’s as simple as thanking them for their time and letting them know how nice it was to talk to them that day (always send thank you notes within 24 hours if you can).
What to wear
Deciding what to wear to an interview can be really stressful. It helps if you know the company’s culture and dress code, so find that out if you can. If you can’t, always remember it’s better to be overdressed than underdressed.
What to take
It’s a good idea to take at least three copies of your CV because the interviewers might not have them to hand. You’ll be able to give a couple to them and follow along yourself.
Have note-taking equipment to hand in case you need to note down any details such as travel requirements, working hours etc.
Bring any work examples (where necessary), for example, a portfolio of projects you’ve worked on in the past.
You’ll often need formal proof of ID if the company is in a big office building, so take that with you too.
What to do beforehand
Get an early night and avoid drinking alcohol. Spend the evening reflecting on your career history and making sure you know your experiences and skills by heart to help you when answering the interview questions.