The average person puts more time and effort into researching their next holiday than they do their next career opportunity: candidates turn up ill prepared, unaware of the skills being assessed – they even arrive late. Like most things in life, preparation is key to helping you succeed at an interview and if you follow this simple guide, the energy you put in beforehand will be rewarded in the end.
Know the ins and out of the role you’re applying for
Take some time prior to the interview to research the job description, the duties, responsibilities and skills that you’ll need to demonstrate in this position. Most companies are very transparent about what they’re looking for, but if you’re in any doubt just ask the recruiter or HR professional who’s bringing you through the process.
Find out all you can about the company
Start with the company’s history, values, ethos, current performance, and vision for the future. Don’t just look on their own website either – do detailed and wide-reaching research using a variety of sources. This will give you an objective view of the business, as well as helping you to prepare one or two well-judged questions for the end of your interview (yes, that’s also something you need to do if you want to impress!)
Know who will be interviewing you
Research their background beforehand to see if you have common ground. Connect with them via LinkedIn and send a brief note introducing yourself, Google their name and company to find out if they’ve been in the news, or any blogs or articles they may have written. No-one’s immune to flattery, and what better way to let the interviewer know you’ve done your research than to compliment them on a piece of work they’ve recently published, or an award their team has won?
Know what format the interview will take
Will it be strengths or competency-based? Will there be a panel or will it be one-on-one? Make sure you’re also clear on the company’s dress code (if in any doubt, always err on the side of professional) and know the structure of the day and what’s expected of you beforehand. This will eliminate surprises and keep nerves in check.
Make sure you know the location of the interview
Ensure that you know the time and date. (You’d be surprised by how many people get it wrong). Plan your journey meticulously and allow plenty of time to spare in case the train breaks down or you get stuck in traffic. If it’s practical, do a trial run ahead of time so you know exactly where you’re going. Plan to be signing in at the building no more than 20 minutes ahead of your interview slot – if you arrive earlier than that go for a coffee nearby (just be careful not to spill any on your new suit!)
So when friends and family wish you good luck before the interview, by all means nod and smile and thank them, but inwardly remember what the great science fiction writer Robert Heinlein said: “There is no such thing as luck. There is only adequate or inadequate preparation.” That said, I’d like to wish you ‘Good Luck’ (though if you follow these steps you’ll kill it) and should you ever decide to interview for Enterprise, I’ll know to expect only the very best!