6 tips to prepare for a job interview

6 tips to prepare for a job interview

A job interview is like a wedding––it requires preparation. You can’t just turn up and see how it goes. If you don’t know enough about the company, or don’t know how to sell yourself, then it’s highly unlikely that the recruiter will want to offer you the role.

It will be obvious if you have prepared for the interview and will show how enthusiastic you are about the position. So here are six tips to make sure you nail it on the “big day”.


1. Find out as much as you can about the company

This is the first rule when you are getting ready for an interview. Get as much information as you can about the business so you can get a feel for it. Look into its history, activity, corporate culture, issues, workforce, products and how they are advertised, the directors’ names, any affiliations and objectives for the future. Get yourself a notebook and write down everything you can find out about every company that you apply to. That way, you can go through the information again on your way to the meeting or just before you go into it.

The idea is that you can show the recruiter that you are familiar with the company’s activity and its identity, so you don’t come across as mechanical. You should be able to tell them what sparked your interest in the job. But don’t you dare start spouting the usual spiel. Try to figure out what made this position stand out to you personally. Was it the company’s image, its community work, its reputation, its values or simply the position on offer? Whatever it was, be genuine but be prepared to explain yourself.

2. Own the position you are going for

Being informed is important, but fine-tuning your research so you sound perfect for the job is even better. For example, if you are thinking of going for a job in financial management, you need to pay attention to key data, such as the company’s turnover. For a position in marketing, you should get familiar with the company’s brand. Take a look at any advertising campaigns, brand ambassadors, the angle the brand has taken on social networks and so forth. During the interview, you will want to showcase the strong points mentioned on your CV, making sure to match them to the position in question, the company’s requirements and the recruiter’s expectations.

The perfect time to decide which bits of your profile you want to promote is when you are getting ready for the interview. Go through your professional experience so far, but remember you should talk only about the parts that are relevant to the job description. Find concrete examples of what you have done and achieved in the past that might appeal to your interviewer.

3. Try to anticipate what questions you will be asked

A job interview is supposed to be a constructive exchange that allows both the candidate and the recruiter to figure out whether they are compatible. That’s why the process can be similar from one interview to the next. Here are some common questions to think about so you don’t get caught off guard:

You should go over your cover letter and try to pinpoint the bits that you did not go into detail about but that could win the recruiter over during the interview.

At the end of the conversation, the recruiter will generally ask you if you have any questions. Don’t be embarrassed. Go ahead and ask something. It will look really good if you do. It is best to have thought about what you want to ask beforehand, but you can also refer back to something that has been mentioned during the interview. Here are a few examples: “How many team members are there?”“How do the different departments work together?”“Will there be opportunities to advance?”

4. Do you speak another language?

If the advertisement states that you need to understand, read or speak a second language to a certain level, the recruiter will want to test you on that. Once again, being prepared, will make all the difference. You will need to be able to introduce yourself and talk about your aspirations in terms of the job. It is probably best to write down what you plan to say beforehand though, so you can have a feel for it. Even if the recruiter ends up sparing you the pain, it won’t be a waste of time.

What’s more, if you haven’t spoken the language for a while, you can get up to speed by listening to a podcast, watching films or catching up on some online discussions. That way you won’t come across as rusty during the interview.

5. The issue of money

This can be a tricky question during any interview. For positions that require several interviews, salaries don’t really come up in the early stages. Usually, the potential new employer brings the subject up and gives you the chance to say what your expectations are.

To make sure that you don’t sound completely out of touch, you should look into the current salaries for the type of position you want in the sector or for the level of experience that you have. Your estimates should align with the standard rate offered in the industry and be fair at the same time. Have a look at other job offers to give yourself an idea. You could also use the LinkedIn salary checker or other online tools to do so.

6. The straightforward bits

Contact details

To keep your stress levels down on the day, make sure you are on time. You should have planned out how you are going to get there in advance. Take with you the contact details of the person you are going to meet, just in case you get delayed or the entrance to the building is a little complicated to find and you get lost. Or so you can let them know that you have arrived if there isn’t a receptionist at the entrance.

Clothing

Choosing the right outfit for a job interview is almost always tricky. It is wise to be professional, while keeping in mind the values the company projects. If it seems strict and very corporate, choose an outfit that is understated and conventional. A dark trouser suit for women, a suit in a dark colour for men and a light-coloured shirt will be appreciated. If your meeting is taking place at a start-up, you might want to consider something a little more casual without being too outlandish. When in doubt, keep it simple.

Attitude

Lastly, doing mock interviews will help you to get rid of any verbal tics or to improve your body language before the big day. You could practise out loud in front of a mirror (yes, like in the Sims), record yourself or ask a friend to pretend to be the recruiter and ask you lots of questions. The aim of the game is to make sure that you turn up to the interview knowing what you want to say.The more prepared you are, the less stressed you will be and the more able to improvise. If you do tend to get stressed out, plan out some small breathing exercises to do while you are in the waiting room or a few minutes before you arrive at the company. That should help you to ooze calm.

Now all you have to do is go there and get that job. Good luck!

Translated by Mildred Dauvin

Photo: WTTJ @Remix Community

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Marion Paquet

Journaliste, pigiste et auteure

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