A successful interview comes down to how well you have researched and prepared....
Congratulations! You've been shortlisted for an interview which means your CV or Resume got you on the shortlist, but now you need to "sell" yourself to the company and reinforce why you're the best candidate for the job.
So, how prepared are you? Here are some areas to think about.
Where is the interview? Make sure you have the correct address. Some companies have multiple sites/offices so never assume you know which one is right without checking. Work out how long it will take you to get there and remember to factor in potential issues with traffic/public transport delays etc. Always allow more time than you think you need, but never arrive at the interview any earlier than 5-10 minutes before your allotted time!
Who'll be interviewing you? Is it one, two or three people and what are their names and job titles? Look them up on LinkedIn or do a Google search on their names. Knowing who you're talking to, their backgrounds and their roles in the company, can give you some insight into what they may ask or be looking for in a new employee.
What do you know about the company? Get as much information as you can, so research, research, research! Look at their website and familiarise yourself with what they do, significant projects or products, key personnel and culture. Then do an on-line search for the company to see what comes up. Quite often you can view media releases or information that's not included on their site. The more you know about the company, the more prepared you are!
Do you need to see a position description beforehand? Ideally yes, so if you haven't received one, ask! A job advert will only ever give you an overview, whereas a position description should provide more detailed information. Not only will you be able to more fully assess whether the role/responsibilities are what you're looking for, but you may see something on there that you want to question at interview.
Your CV or Resume and the role Take some time to review your CV or Resume so that you know exactly what you sent them when applying. Look at the position description alongside your CV or Resume - where do your particular skills and experience match what the company's looking for? What examples could you provide to their interview questions based on your experience? What should you include in your "elevator pitch" when asked to "tell us about yourself"?
Should you do some role playing before the interview? Absolutely! Do some research on what questions you're likely to be asked and practice, practice, practice! Most interviews are a mix of general questions e.g strengths, weaknesses, goals etc and behavioural questions e.g "tell us about a time when" or "give us an example of ". Most of us need to think about how we would answer these questions rather than just turning up and hoping for the best! As mentioned above, look at your CV and think about examples you could use. The S.T.A.R (Situation, Task, Action, Result/Outcome) method of responding to behavioural questions is a good way to structure what you're going to say as it's very easy to say too little or too much!
What should you wear? This very much depends on the company and what role you're interviewing for. You definitely shouldn't turn up in week-end casual gear, but for some jobs it wouldn't be appropriate to turn up in a suit! If you're unsure, it's always best to dress "up" rather than "down" as first impressions really do count. Plan ahead and have a trial run standing and sitting in what you'll be wearing - you want to be focussed on the interview questions, not on adjusting your clothing!
What should you take? Less is more! Depending on the type of job you're interviewing for, you may need to take along a portfolio of your work on an iPad/laptop or hard copy, but if not, a folder containing a copy of your CV and possibly a notebook, should be all you need.
Finally, if you're going for the interview through a recruitment agency, talk to your consultant and ask for any tips on what format the interview may take. Any extra support you can get before the event is always good!
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