To increase your chances of job interview success you need to know how to prepare for a job interview. A well prepared applicant is someone with information fresh on the tip of your tongue, who understands the ins-and-outs of the company they are applying for, and knows exactly what to do on the day of interview. Follow our guide below and you’ll be sure to ace your next job interview!
HOW TO PREPARE FOR A JOB INTERVIEW
THE SIXTY-SECOND PITCH
The sixty-second pitch is a clean-cut and compact statement about yourself that should be personally developed to answer the question: why should I give you a job? The basic components of a good sixty-second pitch should include:
- Your existing occupation and/or the occupation you are seeking
- Your vocational achievements
- Relevant qualifications and skills
- Your educational achievements
This pitch is invaluable when meeting prospective employers. It should summarize you in a succinct way, allowing the hiring manager to picture your professional standing in a positive way. Having a sixty-second pitch helps if you wish to network with prospective employers within short timeframes. Practice makes perfect here; make sure your pitch effortlessly flows from your tongue.
RESEARCH THE EMPLOYER
It is vital that you research a hiring company before the job interview, to help ensure whatever you say aligns with both their goals and the company culture. By doing so, you’ll increase your chances of interview success. Preparing for a job interview shouldn’t feel like a chore, you should see it as an opportunity to gain valuable insight into what may become your future place of employment. Be sure to visit the company website and LinkedIn page, and make yourself familiar with some of the following key information:
- Who the upper management are
- The products/services sold
- Any recent news, events, changes in company structure and/or awards
- The current state of the industry and where it’s heading
- Major competitors
- Company culture
- Long term company goals
HOW TO PREPARE FOR A PHONE INTERVIEW
A lot of first round interviews are conducted over the phone, and it is possible an interested employer may call at any time. If you are not completely ready for the call, you should request the interview to be planned for another time. Once a time has been agreed, you should be prepare for the call by ensuring the following things are at hand:
- Your resume
- Pen and paper to write notes
Telephone interviews can sometimes feel more stressful than a face-to-face interview but don’t panic. Remain composed and always allow the other person to finish what they are saying before you begin talking. Speak with confidence and answer at a pace which makes you feel most comfortable. Make sure you think through your responses first, by taking a moment to pause and think.
At the end of the phone interview remain pro-active, thank the interviewer, re-affirm your interest and kindly ask what the next stage in the process is. You could even consider writing a thank-you email or a letter. This can be sent within a day or two of the interview; it will serve to remind them of you, and show your keenness for the position.
A professional reference is just that, from a professional. This doesn’t necessarily have to be from a lawyer or doctor, but should certainly be from somebody in your working capacity, preferably a current or recent manager, or a professor if you went to university. You may also use clients from previous roles if you feel they know you well enough to give you a glistening reference. A professional reference should not be your friends and family.
Once you have gained permission from your references, compile a list of two or three on a separate page from your resume. This is only to be given to prospective employers if explicitly requested.
Preparation is the key to job interview success, so read, read and re-read your resume over again. If you’re unable to expound each job you’ve held in a positive manner, demonstrating your success in each position, then the interviewer may begin to question whether or not you’ll actually contribute to their company. Make sure you not only know all the information on your resume, but have prepared an inspirational exposition of what you did in each position and – most important of all – why you were good at it. Your confidence will increase insurmountably and hence your interviewer’s belief in you.
CORRECT DRESS CODE
Dress for the position you want – not the position you currently have.
First impressions are important and an interview is the epitome of first impressions, so make it count. Dress for the position you want – not the position you currently have. As companies vary in dress policy here is a brief overview of standard attire in professional work environments:
- Men should be well groomed wearing a two-piece suit with no extreme colors. A white shirt and tie is best. Clean shoes, preferably brogue style. Try to remain neutral.
- Women should wear a professional dress, nothing overly revealing. You can’t go wrong with a suit jacket and blouse with low-heeled shoes.
- Pay attention to small details regards to grooming; one should be clean smelling and have their nails trimmed, and men should be clean shaven.
Please note: Industry dress-codes can differ quite considerably. When in doubt contact the employer beforehand and ask.
DON’T BE LATE!
Never underestimate the unpredictability of public and private transport – always allow yourself enough time to get to your interview destination. Plan to arrive 30 minutes early and, if you are early, wait until about 10 minutes prior to the interview time before entering the building. You could pass the time reviewing your resume and walking off any pre-interview excitement.
WHAT TO TAKE WITH YOU
Bring any relevant documents and keep them crease and stained free, preferably in a hardback folder. Have the documents in your hand or within easy access in your bag.
You should bring:
- Several unfolded copies of your resume and cover letter
- Stationery such as a pen and paper
- Several copies of your list of professional references
- A portfolio of your work (writing samples, presentations, etc.)
Approximately 60-70% of communication is through non-verbal behavior so practice your body language in front of a mirror before the interview. Once in the interview:
- Smile and exude enthusiasm
- Shake hands with a resolute determination
- Walk and talk with confidence
- Maintain eye contact but do occasionally look away, it’s not a staring contest
- Sit upright and lean slightly forward to show assertiveness and interest
- When talking, use your hands to gently animate your key points. If you’re not sure how, take a look at how some politicians talk
The next step in your preparation is to review potential job interview questions. Lucky for you, we have a complete job interview questions and answers guide here. Good luck!