How to prepare for your next interview

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We all know how daunting it can be looking for a new job. It can be even more daunting when you get a call inviting you to an interview!

Stop and breathe. Don’t panic. It will be fine. You will do great. Want to know why?

Preparation.

It’s all down to that. If you go into an interview without knowing anything about the company or can’t quite remember precisely which job you’re interviewing for but just think you’ll wing it, that’s not the way it works and you will not leave the interview with a job.

Spend a few days ahead of your interview preparing. Do your research on the company. Find out about their history, their teams, their clients. How long have they been running for? What’s the growth? What is their 5-year plan for the business? All of these questions are integral to knowing what you’re getting yourself in for. If you, for example, join a start up, then do they see themselves getting a couple of good clients and building slowly which will impact you with regards to hitting the ceiling pretty quickly.

If the company has a 5-year plan and have factored in where your job will be in that time and the journey you’ll go on to support the business and yourself, then that sounds much more attractive surely. You’re well within your rights to do as much digging into a company as possible, the recruiter or head-hunter will be digging into your experience and what you can offer so pay it back!

Questions.

Most interviews are handled the same way so its key to be prepared for that. Go back through your previous jobs listed on your CV and pick out your ‘best bits’ to talk in depth about. What were your greatest achievements? What went wrong at each job and how did you fix it? Have you ever had any challenges that have helped develop you? Where do you see yourself in 2-5 years’ time? What are your goals? What do you struggle with?

These are all pretty standard questions and ones you can very easily prepare for ahead of an interview for a new job. It’s all down to being honest. Everyone thinks that they must answer the ‘what went wrong’ or ‘what do you struggle with’ questions with a positive curve. Sometimes just being honest and saying ‘yes this went wrong’ or ‘I struggled with this’ isn’t a bad thing! No one is perfect!

What you can’t prepare for, are the curve ball questions. I was in an interview once and was asked who I’d invite to my dinner party. This didn’t determine whether I’d get the job or not, but it did show the Hiring Manager my interests and my personality. I could only think of 3 people off the top of my head but be prepared for anything. Another common weird question is ‘What do you think of Garden Gnomes?’… don’t ask, I’ve no idea.

Don’t be afraid to be the one to ask questions during your interview, you’ve done your research and you’re armed with your knowledge of the business. Be prepared with some questions around your knowledge – ‘I see you’ve recently won an award, tell me what was involved in that project and what went well?’, ‘You’ve had a 25% growth in the last six months, how much more growth and expansion do you see the business experiencing in the next year?’, ‘How do you continue to support staff with training?’.

Any questions that are relevant to the business, its achievements, its staff, you are more than entitled to ask. Don’t feel you have to wait until the end of the interview. Add the questions into conversation throughout the interview so it appears to be less scripted.

Practise speaking.

I’m told I speak really fast, so I am now aware of that and slow myself down when talking. Ask your family or friends to do a practise interview or record yourself talking and watch it back. How are you holding and presenting yourself? Is your body language closed off or welcoming?

Dress code is key.

No matter what job or where, dress smart. Suited and booted is the only way and as a recruiter, it’s what I always told my candidates, regardless of what job or company they were interviewing with. First impressions count.

Finally.

Everyone is human, yes you’re interviewing for a job but don’t be afraid to make small talk, don’t be afraid to show interest in your interviewer. If you drop into robotic candidate being interviewed, you’re losing your personality. Be you. I know it’s hard but relax and think of the experience as a learning curve. If you don’t get the job, ask for feedback on how you handled yourself and how you answered the questions. Don’t think that because you’re the interviewee you’re not allowed to speak up. Head to www.myvirtualself.com to find out how you can get shortlisted for your next job!

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