If your resume and cover letter have been successful, then you will be invited for an interview. This is your chance to prove that you are the best person for the job. To do this, good preparation goes a long way. Work on your first impression and ensure that you are familiar with a variety of interview techniques and lines of questioning. Insufficient preparation is the most common beginner’s mistake. Some candidates think it is enough to just turn up and wear a smart suit. Or they may just prepare for a couple of standard questions and leave it at that. Unfortunately, these people rarely get the job. They ask general questions that they would know if they had done their research, they know too little about the job in question and they have to constantly improvise. Preparation is therefore essential. It ensures that you know what you are talking about and greatly increases your chances of success.
Know the job
This is frequently the most important factor. What does the job entail? What tasks will you have to perform? Who will you be working with? What responsibilities will you have? And what is the key to success in this job? With a clear picture of all these aspects, you are able to explain why you are the right person for the job. If the job description is too vague, don’t hesitate to contact the business and ask for further information.
Read up on the business
Learn more about the organisation you are applying to. Read through the company’s website, annual report and look further on the internet for information. Make sure you paint a good picture of the business: how many people do they employ, what clients do they work for and what sort of culture is prevalent? The website is also likely to mention the company vision. This will tell you the direction in which the business wants to go and it is worth referring to this in your interview. It shows that you are interested in the company and that you are taking the interview seriously. It also gives you a better answer to the question ‘why do you want to work here?’
Learn your trade
Don’t forget to research the line of work in which the business operates. What current developments does the business have to contend with? Is it enjoying a period of growth or is it struggling through a crisis? What challenges lie ahead in the future and what is the employees’ outlook for the future? Make sure you know what is going on, as this will enable you to talk on the same level as the interviewer. Sometimes you are literally asked to name one current development in the sector, and it always works to your advantage if you have done your homework. It also demonstrates your level of motivation.
Learn about your interviewer
It is also a good idea to look for information about your would-be interviewer, for example, via Google or LinkedIn. Read the interviewers profile: do you have any mutual contacts or did you study the same subject at university? Common ground can help you establish rapport during the interview, so make sure you know exactly who you will be talking to.
Know your resume by hard
Once you’ve read up on the job, the business and the sector, you should ask yourself how you will fit into this set-up. Why are you the best person for the job? After all, this is the key question that the interviewer will be investigating. The goal of the interview is to make a match: to prove that your profile suits the desired candidate profile. You should therefore know your resume like the back of your hand, as it is often the common thread of the whole interview. Are you saying things that contradict your resume? Or are you unable to explain a gap in it? If so, this will not come across well. You must know off the top of your head where and when you worked in the past, what you did, and why you made particular decisions. The golden rule is that you must never assume that the interviewer ‘knows what you mean’ when it comes to tasks you performed or responsibilities you had. Interviewers want a detailed description of, for example, how you approached a particular project, which challenges you encountered, how you dealt with them, and what the results were.