1. Understand what an employer is looking for
Employers want to know three key things: can you do the job, do you want the job, and will you fit into their organization? Most candidates focus only on the first of these: make sure you have compelling answers as to why you want to work for this particular company as opposed to one of their competitors, and why you believe you will be a good match for their working culture. Try to gain an understanding as to what challenges/problems this role will be focused on and how you help them solve these issues.
2. Be able to talk about yourself in an interesting way
The question “Tell me about yourself” isn’t an invitation to summarize your CV – the interviewer already has that information. This is your chance to give the employer a sense of who you are as a person and what you can bring from a business perspective – what motivates you, how you work best, and why they should employ you.
3. Get the logistics right
Yes, it sounds obvious, but you’d be surprised how many people don’t know where they’re going or who to ask for when they get there. Give yourself plenty of time to get there – much better to be 15 minutes early than arrive late, sweaty and stressed
4. First impressions count
If the first impression you make isn’t a good one, you’ll have to work extra hard in the interview to claw back the ground you’ve lost. So dress appropriately, be friendly, and remember that you are on display from the moment you enter the building.
5. Think about how you would actually do the job
A good preparation technique is to put together a mini “business plan” for the role. What do you think your priorities would be in the first week, month, three months, and how would you make sure you hit the ground running? If you can’t answer these questions, you haven’t done enough preparation!
6. There’s no such thing as too much preparation
As well as researching the specific company or organization that’s interviewing you, make sure you understand the industry sector they work in, who their competitors are, and what the biggest challenges facing them are likely to be. All this information is readily available on the internet, so there’s no excuse for not being well-informed.
7. Be ready with an interesting question
At the end of the interview, you’ll probably be asked if you have any questions. This is not the time to ask about holiday entitlement! Prepare a couple of questions which show that you have researched the company and have a good understanding of its key issues. But don’t fall into the trap of interrogating the interviewer…
8. Make it clear that you really want the job
Make the effort to emphasize at the end of the interview that you are really keen on the position – assuming that you are, of course.
9. Leave salary negotiations until after you’ve been offered the job
The interview isn’t the time to discuss salary and benefits. If you’re asked about your salary expectations, the best response is to say that you would consider a market competitive, reasonable offer.
10. Ask for feedback
If you don’t succeed in landing the job, don’t be shy of asking for feedback on your performance. It could make all the difference between success and failure next time around.