Interview tips – How to prepare for an interview
Interviews are a two-way process. They are an opportunity for an employer to see whether you are suitable for the job, and for you to see whether the job is suitable for you.
Prepare yourself: Think about your skills, qualifications and experience – what are they? Ensure you can talk about them confidently. Use examples from previous work to show how you utilised these skills.
Research the company: This will give you a good background knowledge and awareness about the company’s activities, achievements and operations. Visit the company’s website to find out what they do, what products or services they offer, how many staff they employ, where they are located, and so on.
Questions to ask: You should refrain from asking about pay and benefits related questions at the first meeting. These questions are better left until a second interview or until a job offer is made. In the first instance, you could ask:
- How would you describe a typical day for the person doing this job?
- What training is available?
- What scope is there for career development?
- How often do you hold staff performance appraisals?
- How soon do you expect to make a decision?
- What is the next step from here?
Questions you may be asked: It can help to anticipate questions you may be asked by the employer so that you can practise your responses in advance of the interview. These may include:
- What attracted you to our company?
- Why did you choose this profession? What do you like about it?
- What has been your greatest achievement?
- What do you think are the top three skills one should possess to do well in this position?
- What are your strengths and weaknesses?
- Describe how you can utilise your previous work experience in this role.
- What can you bring to our company?
- Why should we hire you?
Dress code & appearance: Ensure you wear smart business attire, have clean shoes and clothing, tidy hair, and keep perfume/aftershave and make-up to a minimum.
Travel: Plan your journey in advance to ensure you arrive at least 10 minutes early. It is also a good idea to take your contact’s telephone number with you in case the worst happens and you get lost or stuck in traffic.
Paperwork: It may be useful to take copies of certain written information with you. If you do, carry them in a suitable case or folder. Documents you could take:
- CV, references, certificates, portfolio or examples of your work.
- A copy of the job description/advert to refresh your memory or use as a reference point for questions.
- A note pad and pen with 3 or 4 of your questions already noted down (so you don’t forget!) You can also take notes about things that are discussed.