Preparing For An Interview – What You Need To Know

future hirers

Content by HAE EHA Future Hirers

Whether you are applying to join an Apprenticeship programme or secure an interview directly with an organisation, there are various key points you will need to remember. You may have no previous experience of sending applications or the format that an interview takes so this guide is designed to help you along the way and help you prepare for that all important interviews.

What to do before the interview

Congratulations – you’ve been invited to attend an interview, now the preparation begins. You have time to make sure you’re armed with all the information and advice you’ll need for the day.

Firstly, reply to the person that invited you to confirm that you are available on the day. Confirm what format the interview will take i.e. face to face meeting, telephone interview or online assessment are just some of the formats that companies use. By this stage, you should have a basic understanding of what the company does having made the initial application. Make sure that, before the interview, you have done as much research on the company as possible – what do they do, who are the senior points of contact, who is the person that will be interviewing you and what is their role in the company? Your interviewer will be impressed if they see you have taken the time to gather information on what the company does. The question of what you know about the business will nearly always come up as one of the questions you will be asked – more on that later.

Next – make sure you know as much as possible about the role itself. If the role was placed in an advertisement or on a website, there will be a summary of the key responsibilities. Make sure you are familiar with these as this is what you will be doing on a daily basis. It always looks positive if you take the time to think of questions to ask about your typical working day – this shows that you have an actual interest in the company and the role that you could be doing.
In addition, take the time to make sure you know where the interview will be taking place and how long it will take you to get there. How are you planning to get there, will you be driving – is there parking, if you’re taking public transport what is the nearest station, how often are the trains etc. All these things need to be checked in advance so it isn’t left to the last minute. It also allows you to work out if the travel time is suitable – this is a journey you will be making twice a day so you need to be happy with it.

The day of the interview

Be sure to get a good night’s sleep so that you wake up refreshed and ready to make the most of the interview. It’s advisable to eat well beforehand so that you’re fuelled and ready to go! Have you got all your information together neatly, directions, have you got copies of your CV printed out – don’t always assume that the interviewer will have your details.

Dressing for the interview

It is a cliché but you only get one chance to make a first impression. You need to make sure that your appearance is as smart and professional as possible. Ensure your outfit is clean, ironed and shoes are polished.

The interview itself

Firstly, be sure to arrive with plenty of time, normally 10-15 minutes, before your interview. This gives you time to settle down, prepare yourself and get used to the surrounding environment. If you have a mobile phone with you avoid using it and switch it off so it doesn’t ring during the interview.

When you arrive, politely introduce yourself and the person you are due to meet. Avoid taking drinks into reception with you – interviewers will often have water ready in the room. When the interviewer comes out to meet you, stand and greet them with a firm handshake and a smile. Be ready to make conversation with the interviewer on the way to the room to avoid awkward silences, they will want you to be relaxed and will often ask how your journey was, did you find the office easily?

Body language

The way you sit in the interview is crucial to how you come across. Sitting upright and leaning forward are signs that you are paying attention and interested. Avoid dramatic hand gestures and make sure that you keep good eye contact with the interviewer at all times. If you start looking at pictures on the wall or something going on outside this doesn’t give a good impression.

Be confident

This is your big chance to sell yourself and prove that you are the right candidate for the role, be confident in your answers, making sure that the information you give is accurate, relevant and honest. The interviewer will normally go through the details on your CV, what you know about the company and the role. Again, be calm, assured and concise and be sure to answer all questions fully. Avoid just giving one word answers and back-up any answers with examples.

Prior to the interview, think of any questions that you would like to ask i.e. what are career prospects like with the company, how has the vacancy come up, how many people are in the team, how does the company stand out from their competitors?

Wrapping things up

The interviewer will normally conclude things by asking if have any further questions – reply by asking what the process is from here, how many other people are being interviewed, when are they looking to appoint somebody. This not only clarifies the next steps but confirms with the interviewer that you are still interested in the opportunity. Wait for the interviewer to stand up then shake hands and thank them for their time.

Questions to consider

You are likely to be asked a number of questions during an interview – here are some to consider:

• Tell me a bit about yourself

• Why does the job interest you?

• What do you know about the company?

• Why did you leave your last position?

• What is your biggest achievement to date?

• What motivates you?

• What are your strengths/weaknesses?

• What do you want to achieve in your career?

• How would your former employer describe you?

• How do you spend your time outside of work?

All of the advice here is only intended as a guide for you to consider – the hard work comes from you. Throughout your career you will have a number of interviews, if you are unlucky enough to not be offered a role then it isn’t the end of the world. Turn it into a positive and ask for feedback to find out what you could have done better.

Be sure to take this advice and use it in the next interview you have – good luck!

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