With preparation you can make sure you feel as confident as possible. Here we offer guidance on how to prepare for likely questions and make your best impression.
Start your interview preparation with clarifying why you want the job. You must be enthusiastic and convincing at interview. Summarise how the role fits with your skills, experience and career objectives.
Research the company and their market. Identify the company culture, their products/services and unique selling points, their audience and competitors. This will enable you to talk about their business and the impact you can make. And prepare the questions you want to ask. Preparation will put you in the best position to be yourself. Be relaxed yet alert, listen actively, respond well to questions and present your suitability for the role.
Make sure you know who will be interviewing you and understand the format. Directive interviews ask each candidate the same series of questions to ensure consistency and enable comparison. Alternatively, the interview is likely to be structured one of two ways. The interviewer outlines the role to you before asking you to explain your fit. Or they ask you to introduce yourself and explain what attracted you to the role.
Initial impressions are crucial, a fifth of interviewers make the hiring decision in less than ten minutes. Arrive ten minutes early, dressed for the part. Smile, make eye contact, and be positive and professional with everyone you meet.
Be led by the interviewer’s gestures and tone of conversation. Be engaged and interested. And remember that both you and the interviewer want a successful outcome from the interview.
If the interviewer starts with asking you to introduce yourself, it is useful to have your ‘elevator pitch’ ready. Prepare a two minute pitch and rehearse until you can recite it comfortably and enthusiastically:
- Your background and current role
- Key responsibilities and achievements
- Your skills and strengths
- Career objectives and goals
- How this role fits with your career plan
As the interviewer asks further questions, listen closely and make sure you answer fully. Be positive and specific. Use illustrations of your achievements and skills so that the employer is clear about what you have to offer.
Be prepared for competency based questions. The interviewer will ask you to describe a situation which demonstrates your abilities and your suitability for the role.
Use the STARS technique to answer such questions:
- Describe the Situation
- The Task required as a result
- The Action you took
- And the Result of that action
- Describe the Skills you used in your achievements
And prepare for the standard interview questions:
- Why do you want this job?
- Why do you want to work for us?
- Why should we employ you?
- How did you choose your profession?
- What are your strengths and weaknesses?
- What do you like and dislike about your current role?
- What is the biggest problem you have faced and how did you overcome it?
- Why are you looking for a new position?
- What is your greatest achievement to date?
- How would your friends or colleagues describe you?
- Where do you see yourself in five years?
- What is your current salary and what are your expectations?
When the interviewer asks if you have any further questions, use the opportunity to reinforce your interest. Choose questions that are appropriate given your conversation so far and the style of the interviewer:
- What are likely to be the challenges of the role?
- What do you expect will be the most satisfying aspects of the role?
- How is performance measured and assessed?
- What types of training opportunities do you offer?
- Is there likely to be the chance for promotion in the next few years?
- How does this role fit into the organisational structure?
- How would you describe the culture of the company?
- What are the future development plans for the company?
- Do you have any doubts about my suitability for this role?
Close and follow up
Reinforce your enthusiasm for the role and your confidence that you are the right candidate. Shake hands and thank the interviewer for their time. Follow up with a thank you letter or email restating this final message.