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Interview tips come in so many different shapes and sizes … “use a firm handshake”, “sit up straight to show confidence”, “bring a personalised cake with your interviewer’s name in icing on the front” (ok, the last one is thankfully not that common) … all in all, it can be hard to figure out what advice to ignore and what to apply.
At Prime, we send hundreds of candidates for interviews every month, so we’ve seen which tips work and which ones don’t. To give you the best chance of acing your interview, we’ve whittled down the most important pieces of advice we give to our candidates. Read, apply, then go, get ‘em!
1 – Do your research!
Forewarned is forearmed! This is one tip we cannot stress enough. Research the company thoroughly before your interview. That way, you can go in confident and ready to slip in some compliments and some knowledgeable facts about the business. Have a look at their “about us” page and think about what really makes you want to work for them. Make sure you’re up to scratch on their latest news – the press section of their website will be a good starting point for this. Of course, they won’t be expecting you to recite their entire history as a business, but the more clued-up you seem, the more brownie points you’ll get.
2 – Find the company on social media & start stalking.
Usually we wouldn’t advocate Facebook stalking as a particularly healthy activity, but this is one exception where you’re free to stalk as much as you want! With social media playing such an important part in business development nowadays, it’s a great way to know more about the business and their most recent events.
That way, when you get asked the “So why did you apply for this role?” you can draw from Instagram, Linkedin, Twitter, Facebook to throw out specific events, articles or posts that made you want to work for this business. For example “looking into your social media channels I can see you really value your employees.” “Reading through some of your most recent articles – one of which I found really interesting…”
Do you know who is interviewing you? If the answer is no then you need to find out. If the answer is yes, what do you know about them? Are they the business owner? What hobbies do they have? Any mutual ground? If you can find something mutual then you can subtly drop this into the conversation.
3 – Revise.
Just like you’re back in school or off to college, notes are key! Remember to write down any key facts you find out about the company. Memory tip: go over your research in intervals throughout your preparation time, rather than cramming it all at the last minute! This tactic is called “spaced repetition” and studies show it’s the best way to get your brain in gear.
With that in mind, here are some questions you’ll want to prepare the answers to:
1. Why did you apply to our organisation?
2. Tell us about yourself, walk us through you CV (be prepared to fill in any gaps you may have in your CV)
3. Why do you think you will be a good fit for our business?
4. What do you think is your biggest strength/weakness? (Top tip: don’t “confess” to “sometimes working too hard” – no one will buy this.)
5. How do you feel your previous experience has prepared you for this role?
6. What are you salary expectations?
7. What makes you a good team player
8. What do you know about us and our company?
Spend some time going over the questions so you can be prepared. Try and remember the main gist of what you’re going to say, rather than memorizing a script – you want to sound natural!
4 – Choose 3 key questions
Now, it’s your turn to do the asking. As this is often considered the “easy” part of the interview, it’s an easy one to overlook. After all, you’ve already sold yourself, right? Well yes, but you’re not quite over the final hurdle. This is the chance where you get to demonstrate an inquisitive mind and some genuine interest in the company. Think about what appeals to you about this business and its industry specifically, to get the ideas going in advance. To start you off, here are some more general questions you could ask:
1. What are the opportunities for advancement within the business?
2. As a company, what would you say makes you a good employer?
3. How would you describe a typical day in this position?
4. How would you describe the companies’ values?
5. Has this position become available due to expansion?
6. What do you like most about working here?
5 – Come suited and booted!
Or skirted, whichever you prefer. Whatever the type of company or role you’re going for, make sure you dress appropriately. It’s worth setting aside time to decide your outfit at least a day beforehand. After all, the last thing you want is a manic dive through your wardrobe at the last minute, when you’re already feeling stressed!
It’s a good idea to make a checklist of all the more basic preparations you’ll need to make, pre-interview. Here’s an example of what you might need to bring:
2 Pad and pencil for notes
3 Anything the interviewer may have asked you to bring.
4 Your notes while you wait
5 Your interview questions written on the notepad.
6 – Tell yourself you are awesome.
And finally give yourself a mini pep-talk. You’ve got everything you need, you know what you are going to say, you know what you are going to ask. You’re ready! Now remind yourself how awesome you are. Be confident and have a good time!