There is nothing quite like the adrenalin rush when you walk out of an interview knowing that you “smashed it” or, in other words, impressed the interview panel.
Equally, most of us have at some point been in a situation where we walked out of an interview with that sinking feeling that it did not go so well, and the key here is to learn from the experience and job interview tips from The HR Suite.
Understandably, preparation is key to a good interview experience, and ensuring you have adequately researched the company, the interviewers, and the job description are our recommended first steps.
Tips on how to prepare for an interview
Here are some basic tips to help you get the best interview from one of Ireland’s leading HR consultancy firms.
Review the job description
The job description gives us good clues about what questions you may be asked during the interview, so it’s wise to review it thoroughly, almost like a checklist. Ask yourself if you understand each piece of information set out in the job description. Doing some online research can help you overcome any areas you are unsure of and feel more confident about answering questions about them.
A good tip is to write your answers to likely questions and practice them on video. Remember, interview panels like clear, concise answers and can tend to “zone out” if the candidate’s answers are too long and go off track.
Thoroughly research the company
This is a really important step in your preparation for an interview. Understandably, a candidate who demonstrates a strong knowledge of the company and an understanding of the company’s vision and goals is much more likely to impress interviewers. Whether you applied on the company website or via recruitment agency software, learn all you can about the business.
However, be careful that you do not just regurgitate headline statements from the company website. The most effective technique here is to link your answers to show that your vision and goals for the role align with those of the company.
Think about what you will wear
Your knowledge of the type of company and role based on your previous research will give you a good indication of how to best present yourself. We should never underestimate the importance of what to wear at an interview. Whether it is an on-site interview or a virtual interview, remember that the first impression is always sure to make an impact.
The business casual look is usually a safe bet. Feeling comfortable in your choice of clothing is also important during the interview, as you do not want anything to distract you because it’s too tight, loose, short, long, etc. Wear comfortable but smart shoes in case you need to walk a longer distance.
Plan your journey to the interview
As previously mentioned, preparing for a job interview is key, so making sure that you allow plenty of time for your journey to the chair you will be sitting in during the interview is important. If possible, go and visit the location of the interview and have a look around to work out how best to get there, where you will park, etc. Remember to have a change for a parking meter if required.
If it is a bigger organisation with large offices and multiple floors, then always allow extra time to get to your destination within the building. Allow time for a toilet break beforehand, and have tissues and some water to hand during the interview so you are well prepared. Sometimes these are provided in interviews, but not always.
Prepare for questions you will be asked
During most interview processes, you will normally be asked some general questions such as “Tell me about yourself” followed by some personal questions about your qualifications and experience. There can also be more competency-based interview questions, such as “Give me an example of a time when you had to deal with an unexpected event/give difficult feedback/saw a project through from start to completion”. It’s best to have given these some thought and have your examples ready.
Once you have thoroughly researched the job description, you should have a good idea of the technical questions that may come up concerning the criteria set out in the job description and the job advert.
The STAR Interview Technique is an excellent tool to help you structure your answers to interview questions and give clear, concise answers that interviewers like to hear. The acronym stands for Situation, Task, Action and Result. It is particularly good for those competency-based interview questions.
When preparing your answer, think about the situation, then outline what the task associated with the situation was. Explain what action you took and why. Set out how your assessment of the situation and choice of action achieved the best result.
Prepare your questions for the employer
As part of your preparation, it’s important to take note of any questions to ask in the interview. Although you may have carried out extensive research on the company, it is always good to dig a little deeper to gain a better understanding of what it might be like to take up employment with that company.
You could ask questions like, “What does a typical day look like for this role?” and also ask clarification questions such as “Is training provided?” or “Are there career development opportunities in the company?”
Being prepared with some relevant questions shows the interviewer that you are genuinely interested in the role and possibly have a future with the company.
Follow up with the employer
It can be a tense time waiting for a response after an interview for a role you are interested in. At the end of your interview, you can ask when you can expect to hear from the panel. It is always good to send a thank-you email after the job interview, stating your gratitude for the opportunity to meet them and interview for the role.
If you do not receive any update within the expected timeframe, always send a follow-up email after the job interview, using a friendly tone, asking if there has been any decision on the position. If you receive an email informing you that you were unsuccessful, it is important to respond and thank them for the opportunity.
It is essential to ask for some feedback on your interview so you can learn from the experience and work on any areas that you may not have scored so well on.
Remember, the most important part of your personal and professional development is learning from experiences where you have been unsuccessful and turning them into positive future experiences.
Remember that you are presenting yourself at the interview. It is important that you convey confidence in what you do and also in what you say. If you don’t know the answer to a technical question, it’s okay to be honest rather than bluff your way through it. The important thing to demonstrate is that you are reliable and trustworthy, as there are important traits that interviewers like to see. Following the job interview tips above should help you achieve success in your interviews, and you should always learn from the experience as you go along. Best of luck!