How to Prepare for Job Interviews

by Kirthana Rajamogan

A Step-by-Step Guide

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19 FEBRUARY, 2021
Job interviews are stranger interactions. You sit opposite someone you’ve never met before and proceed to tell them everything about yourself.

Your education and employment history, your relationship status, what your kids had for dinner last Tuesday.

Your whole life is laid bare and scrutinised to determine not only if you can do the job, but if you’re the best fit for the culture.
And if you’re lucky you might land a job for your trouble. That’s a lot of pressure for what will be one or two hour long discussions.
But like it or not, that’s the process most of us find ourselves in when trying to get a new job.

Which means it’s pretty important to get it right.
Before any interview it’s important to thoroughly prepare. This goes beyond wearing appropriate clothing. You’re a grown-up and you know how to dress for a formal setting. Similarly, you already know to check where you’re going before you set off. Google Maps, Apple Maps or Waze can get you where you need to go.

Getting interview ready has a lot more to do with research than it does getting to the interview early. Although you should do that too.

Do your Research

Preparing for an interview means fully understanding the job spec - not just skim reading it. Make notes about how your skills and experience meets or exceeds the requirements listed. Where you don’t meet them exactly, identify where your skills are transferable and where you’d need training.

You also need to research the company and - where possible - the person interviewing you.
Again, go deeper than reading the About Us page on the company website.

What do they sell?
What’s their proposition?
What makes them different from their competitors?
Or if you see opportunities that aren’t being exploited, make a note of them.

Never assume the person you’re speaking to has thought of everything. Otherwise there would be very little point in hiring someone with your skill set. Assuming you know who is interviewing you, look them up online.
Check out what the company website says about them. Look on their LinkedIn profile for any insightful posts or shares.

Look out for white papers or other thought leadership pieces that can give you valuable insight into them and the business.

The more you know about the organisation, the more informed you answers will be to any questions.
Your own questions will be more insightful too.

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💰 Demonstrate your Value

The difference between a successful candidate and an unsuccessful one is the answers they give to the questions they are asked.

While nerves may excuse some fumbled answers, poor answers - or the inability to answer - will guarantee you won’t be getting a job offer. Ahead of the interview you should be trying to predict the questions your interviewer will ask and prepare answers accordingly.
In most instances you should be able to come up with examples of where you have hit or exceeded targets.
Or demonstrated independent working.
Or any of a number of different scenarios.

However, this is the minimum standard. This is what all half decent candidates do.
If you want the job then you need to further. You need to demonstrate your value.

To really wow your potential employer you need to be able to frame your answers within the context of how those examples can be applied to your potential employer.

Specifically within the role you are interviewing for- this is where studying the job specification comes in real handy.
So, instead of just giving an example of where you’ve done well in the past, identify how you can apply that to your new role.

Putting your skills and experience within the context of the role you’re applying for (rather than the role you have), will help the interviewer visualise you in that role.
It will also demonstrate a higher level of commitment on your part as you’re already communicating your commitment to the business.

Ask Questions

Off the back or your research you should be able to jot down plenty of questions to ask your interviewer.
They will be expecting them so failure to do so can count against you, as the interviewer will just assume you’re not interested.

You should seek to understand more about the business.

Use your questions to build on what you already know.
So ask about plans for the future with regards to growth, product or service launches and similar.
You need to know if the company is going to still be there in 5 years.

Ask if the team you’re moving into is expanding or if you’re replacing someone.
If you’re replacing someone try to find out why they left.

You don’t want to walk into a job with a culture so toxic that unemployment is the better option.
You should also ask questions surrounding your role. Such as where you will sit in the organization, the team you could be going into and the opportunities for training and progression.
This will give you some insight into the kind of company they are and how they treat their people. Being the right fit for the role is just one piece of the puzzle.
You need to be a good fit for them and they for you.

One last thing…

At some point during every interview, you will be asked why you want to leave (or have left) your current role.
It’s up to you how honest you want to be but whatever you say, be polite and courteous.
For three good reasons.

Like them or not, they’re still paying you so that affords them some respect.
Slamming your current employer is unprofessional.
Plus if you’re willing to say negative things about your current employer - what might you say in the future?

You want to show that you are a professional and you’re moving jobs primarily because you want to advance your career.
Preferably with the business you’re currently interviewing for.

You say that your current employer is unprofessional or that they don’t care for their employees if you choose.
But leave the emotion out in the parking lot.

You want to leave your interview with the impression that you’re the best person for the job. Not the person who will say literally anything to get out of the hellhole they currently work in. It’s not a good look.

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About the Author

Kirthana is the heart of our Talent Acquisition Team, in other words, she matches your best skills with new, exciting career opportunities. 🤝 With 5 years in Management and Customer Service, she loves building client relationships and exploring ideas that help the team grow. When she's not busy finding you your dream job, she enjoys shopping, writing and hiking by the lake. Oh, and she loves food!