You have been invited for an interview for your dream job and you are nervous. Well, its natural! We all are nervous when something as important as a job interview is around the corner. However, this is no time to panic! This is your opportunity to present yourself in front of the hiring manager and captivate them with your skills, talents and eagerness to join the crew. Having what’s on stake in mind, it’s now time to prepare for your interview.
By failing to prepare, you prepare to fail.Benjamin Franklin
The above quote sums up the importance of preparation for your upcoming interview (or for anything in your life certainly). So here’s a five step guide for your interview preparation journey.
Step 1 : Do your research (company, culture and the hiring managers)
You might have already done a brief research about the company before you applied for the job, however, this is the time to do a little more. You should be able to articulate at the interview as to why you are interested in the company and what you could bring into the company apart from what you could bring into the role you are interviewing for.
Why does it matter to know about the culture of the company before you go in front of the interview panel? The simple but most forgotten reason is that if you don’t know about culture then there’s a higher chance that you would feel uncomfortable in the company once you join and realize that it’s hard to adopt. For you to perform at your optimum level, it’s important to join a company (and team) where the culture is something you can be adopt into. If you try to just fit in, let me tell you it’s a real deal breaker. In my personal experience, when the company culture is not what you expected or doesn’t make you feel then you are unlikely to perform at your optimum level.
At this stage, you probably know who will be interviewing you. Gather as much as information about your interview panel. Its actually easier than you think. Search them on LinkedIn, get information through your recruiter or even through your network. If you invest time on the research part then you will realize that it’s easier to find out what their background is, what are their interests are and what type of a leader or a team player they are. If you are still wondering why I am encouraging you to find out more about your interviewers before you go to the interview, here goes my reasoning behind it. Unconsciously, people tend to prefer those who are similar to themselves. At the end of the day, you are going to work with them on a day-to-day basis and a little prior knowledge on them would help you to get along well at the interview as well as on the job.
Are you wondering why I have not talked about researching the role that you are going to interview for? Let’s move to the next step!
Step 2 : Match your strengths to what the role is required
It’s very important to articulate how your skills and experiences match the new role’s responsibilities as, after all, this is why you are being interviewed for. Study the job specification set for the role carefully and match your skills and experience for the requirements that the employer is looking for. You must be ready to articulate why you are the best fit for the role. The only way you can do that is by articulating how your skills and experiences would help you to perform the role you are interviewing for. Also be ready to let your interviewer know that you are willing to learn new things. In case you have none or little experience in a certain area then this is the time for you to come up with a plan to get yourself conversant with the area. Do not be afraid to let the interview panel know that you are working on this area to improve your knowledge so you can perform well.
One thing that I would reiterate is to be honest at the interview. If you have no experience or skills in certain area of the role, let them know upfront. However, be ready to take actions to overcome it. It shows to the interviewer that, you are self-aware and more importantly proactively taking measures to fit in to the role. When I do interviews, I personally prefer candidates who come with self-awareness and proactiveness. Remember, there are always more than one candidate being interviewed for any particular role so you do not want to be just ‘one‘ of the candidates. You need to be ‘the‘ candidate who captivated the interviewer(s). So do your hard work before the interview!
Step 3 : Prepare the answer to “Why you want to leave your current job”
Perhaps you are wondering why I picked this question only in this article. Well, because it’s one of the most important and definite questions that you will be asked in any interview and candidates often get it wrong. Think about what made you want to move on from your current job. Let it be any reason, but do not criticize your current job or your boss (even If it’s the case!). For example, the main reason you are moving on is because you don’t like your boss, their leadership style, team etc. look beyond that fact to recognize what this will do in your career. Foul mouthing about your current job would only do harm to you at the interview. Always present your self as an honest and pro-active candidate at any job interview.
Step 4 : Prepare a few questions for the interviewer
One thing that I have heard from interviewers (and I personally experienced also) is that some candidates are well prepared and they perform well at the interview. However, they do not come up with any questions for the interviewer. This is your first opportunity to get to know the inside information about the role, the team, the company culture etc. so be ready with a few questions for the interviewer so you can get a better understanding. Not only will you get more reliable information about what you want to know but it’s also an opportunity for you to show the interviewer that you are serious about the position and you’d like to make an informed decision.
Step 5 : Mock interview(s) with your mentor/ friend or even in front of the mirror
One last step before the show time! You have gathered all the information you need to prepare for the interview so, if it suits, you should do a mock interview(s) with your mentor. For the simple reason that it helps you to let go of the fear and nervousness about the interview. Your mentor is personally known to you and more experienced than you in similar situations. So doing a mock interview with them helps you to feel calm and relaxed at the interview. If not your mentor then ask one of your close friends to role play as the interviewer. Or else, get in front of the mirror and have a rehearsal before the show time.
Most importantly : Be yourself and let yourself shine!
Interviews are an opportunity that you get to show who you are to a bunch of strangers. I presume it is easy to imitate somebody else when you present to a bunch of strangers as they have no prior knowledge of you. However, at an interview you are letting interviewers assess if you are the best fit. An interview is a two-way street, where you also need to assess whether the role, team and the company is best fit for you. The only way you can get the benefit of being on a two-way street is by being yourself. As a rule of thumb, I am always being myself and it never failed me! So, with confidence I am asking my readers to be the same.
Be yourself, everyone else is already taken.Oscar Wilde
Here comes the show time! Get out there in front of the interview panel confidently and be yourself.
P.S. If you have an interview lined up and want some personal guidance, feel free to contact me on LinkedIn.
About the author
Chandinie Gamage is an accountant by profession who never worked as a mainstream accountant. At the moment she is working in Risk Management at US Bank by the day and being a volunteer to shape Ireland’s youth with Foróige as well as helping professionals around the world via LinkedIn providing personalized career advice by the night.