How to prepare for an interview

Susan Gibson
in Careers guidance
Interview Tips

Any interview will go better if you prepare, you should maximize your chance of success by spending some time before the big day to make sure you are ready.

Start with the basics- Who, What, Where, When, and How?

Who are you meeting?

Do you know the names of the people you will be meeting? Do a little background research on them. Most companies have an About Us page. This could make you feel more confident speaking with them if you have never met them before. What are their interests, maybe you have something in common? You could let them know you have done your homework by showing an interest or asking a question about something you know is of interest to them. For example, you see on the website that one of the interviewers took part in a charity bike race, you could mention that you also ride and would like to take part too next time. Building rapport an getting to know the interviewers can help them to start to think about you as part of their team.

What is the role and do you know about the company?

Have you read the job description? Read the job description and search for clues about the job and company to help guide your preparation. If a phrase is repeated in the job description you can bet they will ask you about it at interview. For example, if they say repeatedly that the company’s main mission is excellent customer service, they will likely ask you to describe a time when you provided excellent customer service.

Do you understand the role and responsibilities? What skills do you have that would make you well suited to the role? For example, you are interviewing for a customer service role and you have had experience of dealing with customers in the past. You will most likely be asked a question about a time when you have dealt with a particular customer or a complaint.

You should think S.T.A.R.- Scenario, Task, Action and Resolution

Answer the questions in this way: Set the scene, what was the task you were asked to do, what action did you take and lastly what was the resolution or outcome.

For example- I was working in customer service and someone called with a complaint. I politely asked them to explain their situation and then said I would investigate and call them back with an answer to their question. I called back and explained the issue and agreed we would update our records and action their request to change the settings on their account, so they would receive paper statements in the post. They were happy their complaint had been dealt with efficiently and at first contact.

Write up a few scenarios of your experience and take them with you to the interview. It’s ok to take notes as it shows you have done your preparation.

Where are you going? Do you know exactly where you should be for your appointment? The day before, take a few moments to go past the location. It will make you feel calmer before your interview if you know where you should be going. 

When do you need to be there? Allow yourself plenty of time to be able to be on time. Don’t arrive more than 10 minutes before your appointment because it puts pressure on your interviewer and that’s unfair to them. 5-10 minutes before your appointment time is best.

How are you going to get there? Are you getting a lift, taking the bus or driving? If you are driving where will you park? Do you need a parking disc or if you are paying for a ticket, do you have cash or card for the machines? If you are taking the bus, what time will you need to catch the bus in order to arrive in time for your appointment.

Don’t leave it to the last minute to plan your journey. All of this should be planned well before the day of your interview so that you arrive on time and give the best first impression.

Speaking of first impressions- always dress appropriately for an interview. You are better to be over dressed than under dressed. Smart, clean and tidy clothes with smart shoes is always a good start. If the interview is via Teams or Zoom you should still dress smartly to make a good impression.

Prepare some questions to ask at the interview, it is a two-way evaluation process and now is your time to find out more about the company culture and what it is like to work there. Thank them for their time at the end and remember that if you are unsure about anything it is best to ask.

All of these steps might seem minor but spending an hour one or two days before your interview to do some preparation and answer all of these questions will make you feel more prepared and confident at your interview, and hopefully you will be successful and offered a great new job!

Susan Gibson
Author: Susan Gibson

New Recruiter seeks entry-level talent. Travel is her passion and if not on the go she spends time with her family and mini-poodle, Jasper.

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