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  • Sandra Laws - Career Coach

How to Prepare for a Job Interview

Job interviews can be a stressful experience and being prepared is crucial if you want to make a strong impression to the interviewer. There is a strong connection between preparation and success. If you want to nail your next job interview, the following seven steps will guide you to getting the job you want.

Step One

a) Confirm your Attendance

When you receive the interview invitation letter, contact the employer to confirm whether you will be attending the interview. At this point you can ask questions, for example, the interview format, visitor parking and directions to the interview location.

b) Plan Your Journey to the Interview

Planning your journey to the interview location will save time and stress. Check the location of the interview and arrange a practice run to the interview address so that you know exactly where the employer’s offices are located. Google maps are useful in helping you to identify accurate directions quickly. If you plan to travel by public transport, check the bus/train schedules and allow ample time for unexpected traffic delays.

Step Two: Your Professional Image

a) Social Media Profiles - there are some employers who check social media profiles of job candidates. Check your social media profile for any comments or posts that might be offensive, controversial, or embarrassing.

b) Voice Mail Greeting - it might also be worth setting up a professional voice mail greeting on your mobile phone.

c) Your interview attire is a key part of selling your image to a prospective employer. A conservative outfit is a safer option than a trendy, flashy one. Your aim should not be to promote your interview outfit; selling your skills should be your key focus. If you have an interview in a corporate setting, such as law or financial services a traditional dress code would be expected.

Once you have decided what you will wear to the interview. Try on the outfit several days before the interview to get an idea how you feel wearing the clothing and shoes; you will have sufficient time to make changes to your outfit. This would alleviate stress. When you arrive at the interview reception area, visit the ladies or men’s room to make sure that your clothing and hair is in place. A final check to ensure your shoes are clean, especially if your interview is on a rainy day.

Step Three - Research the Employer

The most important person in the interview room is the employer. The interview is all about the employer’s needs and priorities. You need to understand the employer’s strategy so you can pitch your key selling points and benefits. Find out who the employer’s competitors are and where they stand compared in the sector. Secondly, identify what problems you can solve for the employer – remember, people are hired to solve problems. Put together evidence to support your achievements. Use industry language to communicate the benefits and the added value you bring. I have created a Free Interview Checklist and Templates to help you eliminate all the stress and save time when completing your employer research task.

Step Four - Prepare Questions to Ask at the End of the Interview

This is your opportunity to find out if this job is a right fit for you. You want to dig deeper to establish if the is the type of organisation that you would like to work in. The interview process is a two-way exchange: it is a selling and buying opportunity. By asking questions, you can gather insider information about the company, that is not available on the company's website. Have at least three questions prepared.

Step Five - Questions Not to Ask at the Interview

  • It is not appropriate to ask questions about salary, company benefits or flexible working at the interview. These questions should be asked once you have received a job offer from the employer.

  • Do not ask questions about promotion or training that is unrelated to the job vacancy.

  • Avoid any questions about controversial issues about the organisation that has been in the media.

  • Do not enquire about other vacant positions within the organisation.

Step Six - Mock Interview Practice

A mock interview is an opportunity for you to practice your interview answers. The job description and person specification are the starting points to draft answers for your mock interview. The job description summarises the context of the role and main responsibilities whilst the person specification is primarily focused on the selection criteria: the skills and abilities, relevant experience, specialist knowledge, education and training.

Begin by reviewing the personal specification and preparing your own example interview questions and answers. You can practice your interview answers by recording your answers into the voice recorder on your phone. A relative or friend can also help you by asking you the example questions and giving you some honest feedback. I have created a Mock interview Preparation Kit where I walk you through an audio mock interview practice session. You can also book a Free Consultation to discuss a one-to-one mock coaching session.

Step Seven - Items to Take to the Interview

  • A copy of the interview letter/email so that you have the name, contact information for the employer and directions to the location.

  • Copies of your qualifications

  • A list of questions that you will ask the interviewer

  • Copy of your job application form or CV/resume

Best of Luck in Your Next Job Interview!

If you follow the seven steps above, you will be better prepared and confident when you walk into the interview room. You will find further information, support, tips and guidance to land more job offers in the weekly podcast: Jump Start Your Career



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