Interview preparation: a complete guide – 10 tips for a successful interview

Once you’ve secured an interview for your dream role you need to ensure that you are completely prepared and armed with everything that you need, in order to ensure that you have the best chance of success.

Most people are not serial interviewers and may only have had a handful of interviews before. The unknown can be quite daunting and it’s only natural to be nervous before an interview. The below hints and tips will tell you all you need to know about what to expect in your interview and how to prepare.

10 steps to interview success

  1. Make sure that you are all set for your meeting; Get everything prepared, ensure that you look the part, know who you are meeting, have a pen and paper with you to make notes on and what the interviewers position/ role in the company is. Ensure that you plan your journey to arrive 15 minutes early and have a contingency. If you are unsure on interview dress code then read my below blog for more tips;
  2. Ensure that you have completed at least an hours interview preparation, as a bare minimum you will need to know what the company do, what they sell, what their services are, who their customers are, their competition and the company history (who the CEO is when the company was founded, office locations, turnover etc). Social media is useful for this, Twitter, Linkedin, Wikipedia etc.
  3. Make sure that you know what the job spec is, that you have a copy printed out and that you know what the role is and what the client is looking for. Have your reasons thought out ready to answer with regards to why you think that you will be a good fit for the role.
  4. Make sure you have familiarised yourself with your own CV– this will form the basis of the interview so you need to know any details contained within it. Interviewers typically question you on; dates of employment, targets, achievements, as well as your reasons for leaving. Any evidence of outstanding achievements; references, payslips, p60’s with proof of earnings etc. are always good to take with you.
  5. It is likely that the interview will contain competency based questions, (give me an example of when you have done this, etc.) you will need to have real life examples ready to demonstrate your skills and experience in relation to the role that you are applying for.
  6. Know the agenda! Ensure that you know how long the meeting will last, who else you may be meeting with, their names and titles/ position within the business, and what you need to prepare. This is especially important at second stage interview. If you are required to give a presentation, ensure that it meets the brief provided, that you have done a timed practice, and that you have it both on USB/laptop and printed handouts.
  7. Prepare your questions! I would always have a minimum of at least 10 and have them printed out. Make them questions about the role the company, the team, the products/services etc.
  8. Be prepared to answer difficult questions. You will need to think on your feet. This is something that nearly all interviewers do, take your time and think carefully, if you don’t know the answer to anything don’t lie! Just simply reply that you don’t know and that you would like to go away and come back to them on it once you are certain. Questions about strengths and weaknesses, are also common. Answer questions about weakness with a positive spin, e.g. I can be very hard on myself, I often set my own personal targets higher than ones that the company does and can be disappointed with myself if I do not reach them, etc.
  9. Close! Firstly, thank the interviewer for their time and reiterate your interest in the position. A good question to ask the interviewer at this point is: What reservations do you have about my ability to do the job from meeting me today? If there are reservations it’s best to get them out in the open so that you have the chance to sell against them.
  10. Qualify, you need to qualify with the interviewer what the next stage is and if you are going to be moved forward or offered the job. Keep this simple and use open questions; what is the next stage? Will you be taking me forward? When will I hear back from you? With regards to commitment you want to find out at the end of the interview if you will be extended an offer (more applicable at second interview) or agreed timescales as to when/ who you will hear from with regards to an update/ arranging the next stage.

Every interview is different but the above will set you in good stead and should give you the confidence to go in sure that you can impress.

Good luck with your interview!