When it comes to securing a new role, the interview stage marks a significant turning point. It's where you shift from being a promising candidate on paper to the perfect fit in your potential employer's eyes. This blog will explore the essential steps and practical tips that can help you thoroughly prepare for your interview and increase your chances of success.
Before the Interview:
Research is Crucial. Embark on your interview preparation journey with meticulous research using these easily accessible sources:
Company Website: Have a look for an ‘about us’ or ‘careers’ page where you can find out about the company's background, culture, mission, and core values. Use this knowledge to show the hiring manager that you have done your research and have consciously chosen to apply to work for them. Prepare case studies from your own experience which show when you have followed the same values or culture mindset.
LinkedIn Networking: Is there anyone you know who works there or used to work there? Look for a company LinkedIn page and read the latest posts. Look up your interviewers and see what you can find out about them. Do you have anything in common that you can use to break the ice?
Stay Informed: Use search engines to quickly find the latest news on the company or the industry. Keep abreast of industry news from reputable sources e.g. Marketing Interactive and set up alerts for updates. Harness online market research tools such as Crunchbase to get a quick overview of the company and their competitors. Build this information into your answers or use a recent piece of news like an award win as small talk.
Competitor Research: Explore competitors' websites to understand their offerings and positioning. This will give you an impression of where the company you are interviewing with sits in the market - how does their business structure or range of services/products compare? This grounding will help you understand what questions to ask of your own, and understand how to present your own experience to best effect.
Analyse the Job Description. Scrutinise the job description to pinpoint core responsibilities and required qualifications. Reflect on your past experiences and skills that directly relate to the job, preparing to emphasise them during the interview. Remember that skills are transferable. Don’t be afraid to talk about a previous role in a different industry/as an undergrad/as a volunteer if it demonstrates what the interviewer is asking for.
Practice Makes Perfect. Identify common interview questions for the role and rehearse your answers thoroughly. Focus on delivering concise responses that highlight your skills and experiences. Employ the STAR method (Situation, Task, Action, Result) to structure your responses effectively.
Example Using STAR:
Question: "Tell me about a time when you were under a lot of pressure at work. How did you handle the situation?"
Situation: I was working as a software engineer on a team that was developing a new software application. The deadline for the project was approaching, and we were behind schedule. There were a lot of challenges, including some unexpected changes to the requirements of the project.
Task: I was responsible for developing a critical component of the software application.
Action: I took a few steps to handle the situation. First, I communicated with the team regularly to keep them updated on the project status and to get their feedback. Second, I worked closely with the product manager to understand the changes to the requirements. Third, I focused on the most critical tasks and delegated effectively to make sure that I met my deadlines.
Result: The software application was delivered on time and within budget. The client was very happy with the results, and I received positive feedback from my team members.
Prepare Thoughtful Questions. Develop a set of thoughtful questions to ask the interviewer. These questions should reflect your genuine interest in the position and the company. Consider inquiring about the team, upcoming projects, or the company's long-term objectives. For example:
Can you tell me more about the team I would be working in?
Where do you think the company is headed in the next five years?
On the Day of the Interview:
Review Your Notes. Remind yourself of key facts, the company's culture, and why you're interested in the role.
Dress Professionally. Ensure your attire aligns with the company's culture and dress code. When in doubt, opt for a more professional appearance.
Be early! Arrive at the interview location at least 10-15 minutes early to allow for the check-in process, a bathroom stop, and time to take a breath and calm your nerves. If you're unsure about the location, consider a test run in advance to avoid last-minute surprises.
By following these steps, you can confidently navigate interviews and enhance your prospects of securing your desired job. Keep in mind that each interview serves as a valuable learning opportunity. With consistent practice, you can continuously refine your interview skills and excel in your career pursuits. Best of luck!