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5 essential interview preparation tips

Posted by: Rebecca Craighill
Company News

So your CV has worked a charm and you’ve been invited to an interview for that all-important job. This is where an employer can properly get to know you (how much can you learn from a CV, anyway?). But then the nerves hit. You realise you really want this job and that an interview is the first step in being a real contender. 

But there’s no need to be nervous. All you have to do is make sure you’re fully prepared. Unfortunately, that’s not always as easy as it sounds. Which is why we’ve broken down 5 essential interview preparation tips.

1. Know the role inside out

A lot of work goes into job descriptions and some of them are pretty lengthy. All that information is there for a reason, which is why it’s important read and re-read the job spec ahead of your interview. The hiring manager’s opening question may well be “what do you know about the role?” and you need to have a solid answer. 

If there are a few things you’re not clear about, or if the job spec is a little light on detail, there’s nothing wrong with ringing up ahead of your interview to get some more information. This is also an opportunity to learn more about the interview format - who will you be meeting and what sort of questions are going to come up? Is it a chat, or a competency based interview?

2. Do your research

There’s nothing worse than going into an interview not knowing the bare essentials of the company and the people who work there. Make sure you do plenty of research so that you’re armed with as much information as possible. Sure, the interviewer needs to sell you the job (this is a two-way street after all), but you should do the courtesy of knowing a little about the business you’re asking to be a part of.

Check out the company’s website, social media, and latest news to get a good idea of what they’re about. You should also research the company’s industry to show the hiring manager that you’ve done your homework.


3. Ask the right questions

The internet is full of blogs about what you should and shouldn’t ask in an interview. So where do you start? We’ve laid out our own thoughts on what you should always be asking, as well as the questions that are best saved for later. But ultimately, it depends on the job you’re going for, the seniority of the role, and the person you’re in the room with.

If you’ve done your research (see above) then the questions should come naturally. Don’t get too hung up on what’s expected, but instead be honest and ask questions that you really want answers to. Just be sure to keep them on-topic and relevant to the interview stage you’re at. A first interview probably isn’t the place for asking about whether the company has free fruit or extensive sick pay.

4. Dress to impress

Again, this one depends on the job you’re applying for, so you’ll have to employ some common sense to navigate the minefield that is dress-code etiquette. Ultimately, you’ll want to appear a) professional, and b) comfortable.

Some outfits won’t be suitable for all work environments, but don’t be afraid to over-dress slightly just to be safe. A good tip is to check out their social media to find some office pictures. If everyone is wearing a suit, then there’s your answer. A lot of companies have dress-down Fridays so make sure you keep an eye out for that. You really want to avoid turning up to an office under-dressed!


5. Give yourself time & relax

How early is too early? A good rule of thumb is to arrive at an interview at least 5 (usually 10) minutes early. This will give you (and the hiring manager) chance to fully prep for the interview.

So work backwards. If you want to be sitting in the interview room 10 minutes before your time, then you probably need to be knocking on the door 15 minutes before your interview (you might have to wait to be buzzed in or climb some stairs). That means pulling into the car park 20 minutes early. But what if the car park’s full? You might have to drive off-site and walk five minutes to the building. If you’re not early enough, then a casual walk could turn into a Usain Bolt sprint! Have you driven the journey before? What happens if there’s heavy traffic or you need to stop for petrol?

You get the point we’re making. 

It’s vital to leave yourself enough time to get to the interview and set up. Sure, you might be ridiculously early, but there’s nothing wrong with sitting in your car for 15 minutes before going in. Or you can pop to a local café and grab a coffee. Better early than late!

Perhaps the most important tip of all is to relax. Easier said than done, we know. Fortunately, we’ve written about this before. Follow these tips and you’ll stand a good chance of being calm and collected in your interview. 

Further Reading

5 ways to make a great over-the-phone first impression
6 ways to start your career when you don't have any experience
6 ways to prepare for phone & video interviews

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