Interview Preparation & Etiquette
Preparation and etiquette are the most important elements of any interview if you expect it to go well. Committing time and effort to this will ensure you have the correct information for all stages of the interview process – from how to get there and what to wear, through to the questions the employer will ask and obtaining proper closure. This all minimises anything unexpected occurring in the interview where, under a pressure situation, being caught unawares can result in you saying something you may later regret.
Before the interview, preparation and research needs to be done thoroughly on a number of different topics:
- the interviewer
- the company
- the job details
- your CV
- questions you will be asked
- questions you need to ask
Being seen to not have done enough preparation will create a bad impression and blow your chances immediately.
Social networking sites make it much easier to find the background, career history and interests of most people nowadays. Use them to your advantage.
- Where has the interviewer worked previously – does it relate to your career or are there connections?
- Has the interviewer progressed in their career – are there any similarities to your career and how does this relate to this job?
Use whatever tools you can to find out information about the business – their website, any recent news, people you may know who work for them or know the business.
- What is the turnover/ size/ structure of the company – does this relate to your background?
- Is there positive news about the company – what does this mean for the future of the company and this job?
- Who are their competitors – do you know them?
- What is the exact location of the interview – are there other sites? Do they impact this job?
- Who owns the company – what is the current cashflow position like? Is this a stable environment for the foreseeable future?
- Is it part of a larger group or are there subsidiaries – What do these mean for this job? Are there external influences?
Analyse the job description carefully looking at the small details that may be specific to this job. Think about it from the employer’s point of view.
- What are the key areas of the job that the employers will see as the most important – systems experience, specific reporting lines, industry knowledge, high volume work, data integrity etc.
- What will the employer see in your CV as a strength or weakness for this job? Try to predict the how the interviewer will see your experiences.
Ensure you fully understand your CV. Many people get dates, facts and figures wrong when questioned in interview. Ensure you can clearly explain all actions/ experiences/ achievements as you will be questioned about them.
- From your preparation on the company and job, consider which specific details in your CV will be most relevant to the employer. Prepare to talk about these in detail at interview.
- Finally, have an ‘elevator pitch’ prepared. This is a 30 second pitch selling yourself and your skills – imagine you get in a lift with someone on the 10th floor and they ask you what you do. You have until the ground floor to tell them.
Using your preparation and analysis up to this point, try to predict the areas of your experiences that the employer will want to investigate further. This will particularly help to calculate the types of interview questions that you will be asked and use our Employer Questions and Techniques advice to assist you on specific interviewing questions and methods.
An interview is a two-way process where you are expected to ask questions. It shows you are interested in the job/ company and shows you have taken the time to prepare before the interview.
- Write a long list of questions before the interview and take them into the interview with you. This way you will always have some to ask even if many have been answered throughout the interview itself.
- Use our Closure and Commitment section to assist you.
There are certain dos and don’ts for every interview – stick to them!
- Always be smart and wear a suit. It’s better to be overdressed and professional than look lax. (This may involve removing piercings, jewellery, covering tattoos etc.)
- Never be late. Know the location, pre-plan the route and expect delays. Don’t be more than 10 minutes early – but be there early!
- First impressions count and be courteous to everyone. Receptionists/ PAs are often asked for their opinion of you.
- Smile and always use a firm handshake – it shows you are confident……even if you’re not!
- Maintain eye contact but don’t stare.
- Try not to fidget or play with your hands. Move pens, mugs etc. away from you at the beginning of the interview if you have this habit.
- If you are not happy with your wobbly seat/ sun in your eyes etc. say at the beginning of the interview. Don’t remain and let it distract you.
- Sit up in your seat and don’t slouch – but be comfortable as you will perform better.