Whether you are getting prepared for your upcoming interview or you are just looking to gain some skills to level up, knowing the basic parts of a standard interview and how you can best prepare yourself to succeed along the way is an important set of information to have in your possession.
Before the Interview
Firstly, there are some things you should expect before an interview. Prior to the formal interview, you can typically expect to receive a pre-interview call that’s placed by a recruiter or hiring manager. This is typically a 15 to 30 minutes call where the recruiter is going to ask you 3 to 5 general questions about your background.
It’s very important to provide more in-depth information about your background and skills than what you’ve stated in your resume. During this period, the recruiter will give you an overview of the next steps of the hiring process and may share information like the length of the interview, when and where it’s going to be held.
A pro-tip here is to ask the recruiter who is going to be conducting your interview. Knowing the name of your interviewer in advance can be useful as you can be able to do your research to find out if there are commonalities between both of you in terms of background or experience. These commonalities can help you build a stronger connection with the interviewer if you bring them up during the interview.
Why you must prepare for your interview?
An interview is a formal meeting in person, for the assessment of a candidate or applicant. This is very crucial in the recruitment of an individual into any
organization. Through this, your employer gets to know who you are and what you can contribute to the organization.
Your performance in an interview is very important as it is a major determinant of your qualification for the role you are applying for. Your interviewers want to know how you can support and help the company grow and achieve its goals.
There are steps needed to make present yourself as a great fit for the role you are applying for which may include:
- Always research and ask question of the role involved
- Practice your answers to ensure that your ready to explain, and
- Give details of your qualifications.
There are ways to make a job interview feel much less stressful. Just a little preparation time can go a long way. The more time you take in advance, the more comfortable you’ll feel during the actual interview. Ultimately, the key to effective interviewing is to project confidence, stay positive, and be able to share your workplace, skills and your qualifications for the job.
Tips Before the Interview
In the days before your job interview, set aside time to do the following:
1. Research about the company:
It is important to know the key information about the company you’re interviewing with. This key information can go a long way to help go into your interview with confidence.
Looking through the company’s official website, social media posts and pages will provide you with solid knowledge and understanding of the company’s goals, ambition and how your skills will make you a great fit for the company to help them achieve their goals and growth.
Also, discussing this information about the company with the interviewer during the interview will tell that you are passionate about the role at the company and you came ready for the
2. Practice your answers to common interview questions:
There are common questions that candidates often get asked at interviews like;
- “Tell me about yourself”,
- “What are your weaknesses”
- “What makes your think you are qualified for this role” and
- “Why are you interested in this role with our company”.
These are general questions that you should prepare yourself to answer even before the day of the interview. These questions are asked to quickly communicate who you are and what value you will bring to the company if you get offered the job – this is your personal elevator pitch to the interview and you should focus to make it clear and brief.
It is also recommended you prepare to discuss your salary expectations. If you’re not sure of the appropriate salary to ask for, tools like the indeed salary calculator will be useful to you to give a personalized pay range based on your location, industry and experience.
3. Understand the job description:
It is important that you clearly understand the job description, what skills are needed for the job and whether it is a remote or onsite job before you even apply.
This will help you understand the type of candidate the employer is looking for and the skill qualifications for the job. Also, this will help you align your previous experiences with the required skills for the job.
4. Use the STAR method in answering questions:
STAR stands for Situation, Task, Action, Result. This method creates an excellent strategy to answer questions about the times in the past where you used a specific skill to solve a problem.
This will make your answer to be easily understood by the interviewer and make him confirm that you really know what you are talking about.
5. Get plenty of practice:
You can ask a friend of yours to help you practice for your interview. Your friend may act like the interviewer as he or she asks you questions and you answer the questions out loud.
You can also practice for your interview by talking to yourself in front of the mirror. The more you practice for your interview, the more confident you will feel as you get used to saying the words and the better chance you have of leaving a positive impression and eventually getting an offer.
6. Prepare a list of references:
Interviewers sometimes might require you to submit a list of your references before or after your interview. It is better you prepare this reference list before even going to the interview as it can help you quickly complete this step to move forward in the hiring process.
7. Prepare the examples of your work:
It is very likely that you will be asked about specific work you have done in the past in relation to the role you are applying for. Your previous work experiences sometimes can be used to determine the level of your experience. After you review the job description, think of the works you have done in the past that require the skills that are relevant to the job you are applying for.
8. Prepare smart questions for your interviewer:
Interviews are not necessarily a one-way street, most of the time you are expected to have questions that will make the interviewer describe more about the nature of the job and what it will be like working for the company you are applying for. Some important questions you can ask your interviewer include:
- “Can you explain some of the daily responsibilities of this job?”
- “How would you describe someone who is a great fit for this job?”,
- “What departments does this team work with regularly?”
- “What are the challenges you are currently facing in your role?”
- “How do these departments typically collaborate?”.
9. Plan your interview attire the night before:
If you have the opportunity to speak to the recruiter before the interview day, you can ask them about the dress code in the workplace and make sure to choose an appropriate outfit. If you couldn’t ask the interviewer about the outfit, you can go online to research about the company’s preferred dressing code.
10. Bring copies of your resume, a notebook and pen:
Take at least five printed copies of your resume in case of multiple interviews. Also, highlight specific achievements on your own copy that you can easily make reference to and discuss them during the interview. It is important to take notes during the interview with your pen and notebook instead of your phone.
You should write down important details during the interview that you can make reference to when you are writing your follow-up-thank-you notes. Try to maintain eye contact as much as possible during the interview.
11. Plan your schedule so you can be settled 10-15 minutes earlier:
Whether your interview will be virtual or physical, make sure to plan yourself before the interview day so you can be settled 10-15 minutes before the interview starts. If you are going to take public transport, identify a backup plan if there are delays or closures or the day of your interview.
If your interview is a physical interview, stay off of your phone, but if your interview is going to be virtual, use this time to turn off any notifications or close tabs that may distract you during your interview.
While you patiently wait for the interview to start, try taking deep breaths that will help you stay focused or use the opportunity to review your resume for the last time to remind yourself of stories or experiences that you want to make sure to mention during your interview.
Most of the time you can easily make a good first impression just by coming early enough and you will appear to be serious about the job you are looking for. You can use the extra minutes you have to observe the workplace dynamics when you arrive early before the interview starts.
12. Make a great first impression:
Most of the time, the first impression you make come off from your appearance. Try to take care of the little things like making sure your shoe is well polished, no stains, pet hair, holes or loose threads on your clothes, make sure your hair and beards are looking clean. A confident body language and a good smile will help you a lot too.
13. Treat everyone you encounter with respect and focus:
On the day of your interview, you have to be careful to treat everyone you meet with good behaviour. This includes people on the road, parking lot, security officers and front desk staff.
Treat everyone you don’t know like they are the hiring manager because even if they aren’t your potential employer may ask for their feedback. Remain friendly and focused knowing that your interview may start soon.
14. Practice good manners and body language:
As soon as you enter the building where your interview will hold, make sure to practice confident, accessible body language.
Sit or stand tall with your shoulders back, before the interview take a deep
breath and exhale slowly to manage feelings of anxiety and improve your
Don’t initiate a handshake with the interviewer (the interviewer should be the one to do so by extending his hands towards you), look people in the eyes and smile, a good handshake should be firm but not crush the other person’s fingers.
15. Be authentic and positive:
It is important to be genuine during interviews as you can make it easy for the interviewer to relate to you. Avoid trying too hard to please the interviewer so you don’t end up telling lies and be positive with a smile and upright body language. These can help keep your interview light and constructive.
16. Respond truthfully the questions being asked:
As tempting as it may be to go to the extremes trying to hype your skills and accomplishments in order to sell yourself in an interview. Always remember that interviewers find honesty refreshing and respectable.
Focus on your key strengths and why your background coupled with your experience makes you a great fit for the position you are applying for. Also, it is important to keep your answers to questions concise and focused as you have a limited time with the interviewer. You should be mindful of rambling and practising your answers beforehand can help keep you focused.
17. Tie your answers back to your skills and accomplishments:
It is important you tailor your answers to questions to refer to the relationship between your background or experiences and the job you are applying for by providing examples of solutions and results you have achieved.
Address the requirements listed in the job description with every opportunity you get. This will how that you read the job description and clearly understand what the job demands.
18. Show off your potential:
While it is important to flaunt your job experience, personality and education to make a positive impression during a job interview, a recent study conducted by TopResume website revealed another piece of the puzzle.
According to the study, a large number of recruiters and hiring managers said that “potential” is what they consider the most important quality in a job candidate. This surpassed experience, personality and education. One of the managers also said that “Managers are always looking for people who will bring solutions, rather than problems to their departments.”
What this means for you is that you have to show off your potential in a job interview and some of the ways you can show off your potential include: showing up prepared and confident, ask questions that highlight your eagerness to learn and many more.
19. Do not speak negatively about your previous employers:
Companies are always on the look to hire problem-solvers who overcome tough situations. If you don’t feel encouraged about your current job, focus on talking about you have gained from that experience and what you plan to do next in your interview.
Speaking negatively about your past employers may make the interviewer question your personality and see you as someone who may is not a great fit for the job.
20. Ask about the next steps:
When the interview is over, it is appropriate to ask either your interviewer, hiring manager or recruiter about what you should expect next which in most cases will probably be a follow-up email with results from your interview, additional requirements like an assignment, reference list or another interview.
The information about your next steps from the interviewer should help you know what your focus and expectations should be after the interview.
21. Send a personalized thank you letter after the interview:
Try to get the contact information of each person you speak with during the interview process so that you can follow them up individually with a separate thank you email.
Send your follow-up emails on the same day if your interview held in the morning, if your interview was in the afternoon or later, than sending the follow-up email the next morning is fine. Make sure that each email is distinct and unique from the others using the notes you took during the interview.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
It almost dependent on the nature of the interview and also on the individual. While it may take on average some weeks for a lot of people, it is advised you start preparing foryour interview as early as possible.
Resources like AmbitionBox, Glassdoor, HiDimensional, Indeed, Big Interview and Interview Kickstarter will go along way to help you prepare for your interviews
It is advised you bring copies of your resume and certificates, IDs, pen and paper, pre-written questions for your interview, a list of references, portfolio and a bag that contains all your items along with you.
While there may be a lot of them it is important that you take responsibility of your decisions and actions, avoid negative comments about past employers or teachers, don’t falsify application materials or answers to interview questions and also don’t approach the interview too casually as you may be seen as unprofessional and unfit for the job.
Usually, for most people the best times for the best interview slots run
between 10:00am and 11:30pm. This is so because, it gives employers enough time to get energized early in the morning for the workday and review your application details.
Typically, in-person or physical interviews last between 45 minutes and one hour and thirty minutes depending on the hiring manager and the nature of the interview. In rare cases it may even last up to a day.
Most times, research results from job seekers shows that most
interviews on Fridays led to securing employment. It is good to note that it is not a requirement for interview success.
Interviews can be tough, therefore, it is important that you go to your interview well prepared. The list of interview tips discussed in this article will go a very long way to help you ace your interview if you actually put in your time to practice before your interview.