We’ve conducted and sat through lots of interviews over the years, and if there’s one thing that we can guarantee will make you stand out from the candidate crowd, it’s preparation.
It may sound obvious, but it’s surprising how many candidates forget the importance of doing your homework before putting yourself in front of an interviewer. For those who haven’t sat for an interview in a while, here are 9 simple ways you can prepare.
Research the company
Take the time to investigate the company you’re interviewing for. Research and immerse yourself in their brand. What are their core values, their mission? What is their organisational structure, and how many locations are they present in? Who are their competitors, and what is happening in their industry? Draft some questions based on your findings and take them into your interview to ask.
Know the kind of person they’re looking for
Think about the sort of behaviours they are looking for, that are key to making the role effective. Search online for specific behavioural interview questions for the advertised position or similar roles elsewhere, and prepare some practice responses around what you discover.
Tell your story
Think about some key stories or experiences that demonstrate your strengths and practice them prior to your interview. Better still, if you can relate it back to some common values of the organisation, you’re on a winner. We recommend taking the SAO approach, which we’ve explored in another post, as a great way to structure your interview responses.
Practice, practice, practice!
Draft focused responses to the questions and practice them. No one likes a rambler, and you’d be surprised how many senior, experienced candidates blow it in interviews by believing that more is better. Work hard to make your answers succinct and practice, practice, practice! It doesn’t matter if it’s in front of the mirror, with a friend, or even with the family dog – practice your word power.
Share your accomplishments
Ideally, you should be able to provide your interviewer with 2-3 responsibilities and accomplishments for each position in your resume. Be prepared to share more for your two most recent positions – your interviewer will likely be digging deeper on these or request work related examples.
Mind the gaps
Be prepared to explain why you left each position on your resume, and why you’re now looking for work. Bear in mind that you’ll be expected to explain any gaps on your resume between jobs. You may have been ill, you may have taken a sabbatical or gone exploring overseas – whatever it may be, be honest about that gap.
Have answers ready for the ‘what-ifs’
Think about what your response would be if your current employer offered you a pay rise or a promotion, if they were aware you were leaving or thinking of leaving. This can often be a question that is asked at interviews.
Gather any evidence, documents, projects or media that supports your application. It helps show your motivation for the role and will help affirm you as a serious contender.
Know your ‘why'
Prepare to explain your motivation for the role, and what it is that makes this role the right one for you. Again, the more you’re able to relate this back to one of the values of the organisation you’re applying for, the better you will stand out as a meaningful candidate.
Keep the above in mind, and when it comes to the actual interview where the pressure is on, your preparation will not only help reduce the probability of ‘freezing up’ - it will also stop you from talking too much or too quickly, letting you deliver your answers in a far more relaxed and confident way.