How to Prepare for an Interview

How to prepare for an interview

I’ve been on both sides of an interview table and I think it’s safe to assume that no one likes interviews. The interviewer has seen about 5 candidates today, all of which don’t feel like the right fit for the position. Some candidates don’t answer questions directly, avoid them by giving irrelevant answers or (my favourite) answer questions with questions. In my experience, sometimes getting information out of a candidate is like trying to squeeze water out of a rock.

As the candidate, interviews suck because you’re sitting opposite a panel of people staring at you bright eyed in anticipation waiting for you to sell yourself. I bet our “favourite” part is the fact that there are no practice rounds to meet with the people who could change your life forever.

Here are my tips on what to do before an interview to ensure a successful interview:

 How to prepare for an interview
1.     Do Your Research

It’s helpful to view your interview as an exam, you are being tested after all. You wouldn’t feel comfortable walking into an exam unprepared now would you? Take time to prepare answers for the common interview questions. Write your answers down and study them. Yes, there might be some questions that you wouldn’t know to prepare for but at least you will have some “go to” sentences floating around at the time of your interview for you to grab at with ease.

I remember an interview where someone had asked what my likes and dislikes are. Even though I am in-some-sort-of touch with myself and will usually know what it is that I like and dislike, the question threw me off because I hadn’t prepared for it (I was so nervous I couldn’t tell my left from my right). I sat there, blank faced, digging into the darkest corners of my soul to find some resemblance of an answer. “Food, I like food… I think.” The next step in your preparation will involve Google (AKA my best friend, tutor and study partner), so hop on there and research the company that called you in for an interview. You should be looking for an outline of the services they offer, mission statements, mottoes and values. Knowledge is power and the more you know about the company and what they value, the more you can be sure to include mutual interests in your interview answers. For instance, if you look on-line and see the company’s website have words that emphasizes a “person orientated” approach to business, you will be sure to mention that you are good at working with people, tending to their needs and you’d mold some of your answers that you’ve prepare in advance to include things relevant to the “person orientated” approach. Similarly, knowing what services the company offers shows the interviewer that you show interest in the company and what they do. This makes you a better candidate because it creates the impression that you’ve done your homework and that you are not just looking for a company to pay you money regardless of what they do.

 2.     Create Practice Opportunities

Nervousness can cloud even the brightest of minds and my remedy for nervousness is practice. My theory is that; if you’ve successfully participated in one interview you’ll be more confident in the next. Applying for jobs that are in a lower salary bracket or that require less experience than you actually have can give you an opportunity to practice your interview skills in an environment where you don’t have your dream job on the line. You can also go home after these interviews and analyse what contributed to their outcomes. Ask yourself questions like: Did you talk to much? Did you go off topic? Which answers really impressed the interviewers? Did they ask any questions that you didn’t prepare for before hand?

3.      Work on Your Confidence

Confidence is a big factor in an interview because you are selling yourself to the company. You’re essentially trying to make it viable for them to spend their money on your salary month after month. If you don’t have confidence in yourself, you aren’t giving them the opportunity to have confidence in you. Just as a sales person, you won’t be highlighting your (the product’s) faults, it’s not your job to highlight where your shortfalls are. You are there to promote what you can do, you in all your glory. Please believe that anything you can’t do right now isn’t a barrier, it’s just something that you can’t do YET. We all have the capability to learn. Job seekers need to know that the interviewers are looking for the best fit, not the perfect fit. Often times interviewers do not know what the best fit is going to look like, so it could easily by you. Don’t try to hard to be what you think they want. If you do not get the job, you would’ve failed pretending to be the person you thought they want, when the actual you would’ve been the best candidate. Another mind blowing revelation that came to light this past month, through conversations with a friend, is that companies hire people. They do not hire a skill or a qualification. They are looking for a person, a personality. So your best chance is to bring your personality with when you go to your interview. Maybe you are quirky, sarcastic, straight forward, a bit of a ditz or clown, bring that with you, it has it’s place too because it is naturally you. Personality, potential and capability will beat skills and qualification hands down most of the time. You wouldn’t want to be working with people who don’t appreciate or respect your personality anyway. With preparation, practice and confidence on your side you will go anywhere you want to go. Preparation is the polish that will allow your diamond to shine (Corny thought of the day). Remember, you are the best you there is, you need to get to the comfortable enough so that you can optimally display who you are and create an awesome first impression. What are your preparations tips and tricks? Please share them below, I like hearing from you.


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