Does it surprise to hear that there really is no secret to a successful interview? It’s simple, PREPARATION and PRACTICE.
The amount of preparation and practice before the interview takes place is key. It’s incredibly frustrating when an applicant looks better on paper than in person. It’s an old cliché but….“fail to prepare, prepare to fail” You can’t prepare too much for an interview, do your homework and find out everything you can about the company and the people you will be meeting. Practice your interview answers by writing them down or even record yourself until you feel confident with the answer you hear.
For many, they take months to prepare for a wedding, to move house or to go on holiday and yet for some reason job seekers take hardly anytime at all to prepare for an interview.
We practice our driving technique before we take a test, actors practice their lines before the actual take, and expectant mothers practice childbirth before labour!
And yet, for some reason job seekers spend no time at all to practice for an interview?
It concerns me when I often hear from people that they didn’t have the time to prepare or practice for an interview, an interview which could potentially enable them to work in a better role, a role which could lead to a higher income and allowing them a life with more choices and job satisfaction.
I like to encourage people to think back to when they were at school or university and ask them “How much time did you take to prepare for your exams?” “Did you receive the results you had hoped for or can you now own up after all these years and acknowledge that perhaps you didn’t prepare enough?”
If you consider that research informs us that only 20% of applicants take the time to prepare for an interview then you can assume that if you are one of 20 interviewees and you do take the time to prepare then the odds will greatly work to your favour – realistically you will only be competing with three other contestants!
Preparation is essential for all job seekers and once an interview has been confirmed then you should:
1) Research the Company – Look up the company’s website and research the products and services they provide. What is their ‘Mission Statement’, who is their competition?
2) Read the Job Description – If you haven’t already received a copy then it’s important that you ask for one. How will you know if you’re right for the role if you don’t know what the company requires?
3) Know Yourself – What are your strengths and weaknesses? What are your qualities and skills? If unsure then speak to a colleague or friend who can help you to identify these with you.
4) Check Location – No feeling can be worse than realizing you’re at the wrong address just five minutes before the interview is scheduled to begin. Many large corporates have more than one building so it’s always a good idea to check where you are going before heading off for an interview. Have a trial run
5) Take time off work – Rushing to an interview during your lunch period is not advisable. You need to be fresh and prepared, not stressed and hungry. Besides, how can you possibly conduct a good interview while watching the clock?
6) Prepare GOOD Questions – Asking good questions will leave a good impression and put you ahead of your competition even if your skills are not 100%. It’s always advisable to have 10 strong questions that you can ask either throughout the interview or towards the end.
Preparing for an interview is different from practicing for an interview and again is essential for success.
5 things you can do to practice your interview skills:
1) STAR – Practice your stories by using the STAR technique, Situation or Task, Action and Result.
- What was the Situation or Task, be brief, two sentences will be acceptable
- What Action(s) did you take and why did you take them
- What were the Results for you and those around you and remember win/win
2) Record Yourself – Practice your interview answers by recording yourself until you feel confident with the answer you hear.
3) Mirror – Observe your body language and expressions by saying your answers out loud in front of a mirror. Even better use a webcam if you have one, you can buy one for less than £10!
4) Role Play – By role playing an interview situation it allows you to practice being your worst over and over again. Ask a friend/colleague to help you role play the interview and ask that person to listen, be honest and provide you with constructive feedback.
5) Telephone – Arrange to call a friend/colleague the day before your interview, give them a list of 5-8 questions and ask them to give you a quick practice session.
The interviewer will be preparing questions for you do yourself justice and practice the answers!