You are almost there. Your CV garnered interest and landed you an interview! You need to seal the deal, so what is the best way to prepare?
No matter how experienced you are, interviews can still be stressful, especially if you are about to interview for your dream job. Based on my professional and personal experience, I have 5 tips for you that will help prepare you for your next first interview.
1. Research, research, research
Employers favour candidates who show genuine interest in the role and company. Take time to review the role you applied for and make sure you fully understand what is expected from you.
Research about the interviewer and the latest news about the company. Use that information as conversation cues during the interview, not only would that show genuine interest but also preparedness. This will help you answer the question “what do you know about the company” and even if the question doesn’t come up, being able to demonstrate how much you know about the company gives you extra brownie points.
Use resources available to you as tools for research – company website, blogs, social media, glassdoor.com and the worldwide web! You will be able to gather useful information about the company’s history, culture, values and growth plans from there.
2. Prepare well
Prepare a list of thoughtful questions to ask the interviewer. 9 out of 10 times (unless it’s a rushed interview), you will be asked if you have any questions for the interviewer and it is essential for you to prepare at least one or two questions to demonstrate your keen interest. You can ask about the company culture, team dynamics, reporting structure, KPIs, growth plans for the role and so many more, depending on the type of role you’re interviewing for.
My personal tip is to ask something that matters a lot to you for your next career move. Ask yourself why you are looking for new opportunities in the first place. Is it the poor team culture or the lack of training opportunities at your current job that made you lookout? These are good starting points for you to prepare that list of questions to ask during the interview.
3. Form a connection with the interviewer by using active listening
Other than showing what you know about the company, it definitely helps to build rapport with the interviewer(s). Make sure you find out the name of the interviewer prior to the meeting, learn how to pronounce it, remember it and use it during the interview. Look up their LinkedIn pages and find commonalities to chat about during the interview (you could both be from the same university or volunteering at the same charity etc.) People tend to remember the ones who make an effort or go the extra mile. You will instantly feel more confident about yourself too!
Don’t get too caught up with giving the “perfect” or “textbook” answers. During the conversation, practice active listening to ensure your responses are providing the interviewer the information they are looking for. Your responses should emphasize the skills that are most important to the hirer and relevant to the role.
4. Be yourself, the interview needs to meet the real you!
It is easy to slip into an ‘interview persona’ to try to impress the interviewer and more often than not, you end up using cliché expressions which you would never usually say on a day-to-day basis or intentionally hiding your conversely outgoing personality. You could be doing that with the intention of trying to fit in with the interviewer’s personality or perceived company culture, and whilst I understand why one would not let their guards down completely, I do not recommend it.
Company culture is defined by its people, the dynamics between colleagues and employees are expected to embrace the core values of the company. I encourage you to showcase your best traits and let these traits shine in a professional way during the interview. It will give the interviewer a true idea of who you are as a person and make an informed decision as to whether you’ll be a good fit for the team.
When you are able to let your guard down appropriately, it allows the other person to see you for who you are.
5. Follow up after the interview
Regardless of what happened during the interview, positive or negative, it is always professional to follow up with a thank you email after the interview to show appreciation for the hirer’s time. I would always recommend candidates to send a LinkedIn invite to the hirer to stay connected with them regardless of the outcome.
It is also absolutely fine to follow up with another email after a week post-interview to ask for feedback or a status update. This not only shows interest but also proactiveness.
Interviews don’t have to be daunting or nerve-wracking. It really comes down to being prepared and being yourself. As the old saying goes “Practice makes perfect”, this definitely rings true for most things in life. The more interviews you go to, the better you get at it.
If you are in the digital, data or communications sector and are currently actively looking, check out our website for roles available and if you would like a private chat, send me an email at April.firstname.lastname@example.org with your CV.