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How to Prepare for a Job Interview

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The humble job interview is still one of, if not THE, most effective ways of really understanding whether a prospective hire is right for the company.

It remains a judgement call between a handful of people, isolated from the efficiencies of tech or automation of ATS platforms. Interviews are inherently stressful, they take a lot of planning, and you’ll end up failing more interviews than succeeding.

However, one interview can change your life and learning how to impress an interviewer with the assets you have, the skills you’ve learned and the potential you can give is vital if you are to succeed in any walk of life.

But in our modern, digital age, the rise of video interviews has created an added screen-based barrier between interviewer and interviewee. Interviews are now multimedia, often taking place both on a screen and face-to-face as more and more companies utilise digital recruiting platforms and continue with pandemic-safe measures of candidate contact. Plus, video interviewing is more inclusive and saves more time for all parties involved.

So has this changed the art of interviewing? Do interviewees need to change their strategy in the light of a multi-format interview process?

The answer is yes… but not as much as you think.

How to Prepare for an Interview

As many millions of people now have the benefit of utilising video interviewing software, we've split our interview guidance into remote and in-person checklists. Despite the different formats, many of the basic principles of successful interviewing have stayed the same. However, there are some crucial, novel interview tactics for video and in-person interviews which need to be made apparent. We’ve split our interview guidance into two: pre-and post-interview checklists. Because the real skill in interviewing is preparation and post-interview aftercare.

  • The interview itself will only be as successful as the preparation you’ve made and the tasks you have fulfilled to make sure it goes off without a hitch.
  • The successful job applicant will only be as memorable and as professional as the post-interview communication and feedback sought.

If you turn up unprepared, late, badly dressed and rushed, your interview is already off to a bad start. You won’t be in the right mental state, and you’ll be chasing the sort of Zen calm you need to really impress upon an interview. So, without further ado, here is how you prepare and succeed, at interviewing.

Pre-interview In-Person Interview Checklist

  • Know your travel time. Make sure you know the distance and route to and from an interview and take into account commuting times, slower public transport, road or rail works, bus delays, or potential problems. If you meet a snag, make sure to have the interviewer's number or contact email to tell them if you will be potentially late due to unforeseen circumstances.
  • Dress appropriately - neat, neutral clothing that’s professional, but not too dressed up or showy.
  • Turn up early.
  • Make sure you have a copy (or ideally a few copies) of your CV to hand.
  • Make sure to give your interviewer a handshake, and make a confident first impression.
  • Make sure your body language throughout the interview shows warmth, openness and trust. You can do this by making sure you’re displaying the following:
  1. Smile! Often and widely.
  2. Mirroring your interviewer’s body language.
  3. Use your hands to gesticulate to make points or illuminate answers.
  4. Make eye contact, but anything over 4 seconds tends to look creepy and intense.
  5. Sitting with an open posture, not with crossed legs (which can look casual or dismissive) or with crossed arms (which can look defensive).Don’t face a window or door, it’ll look like you’re wanting to escape.
  • Prepare questions. You may not have the benefit of desk space or offscreen prompts like you would in a remote interview, but you do have the benefit of reading your interviewer’s whole body language and approach to the interview, which should give you a sense of how they are reading the interview in real-time.

Pre-interview Remote Interview Checklist

  • Do the links to the interview work? Check your internet connection is strong, and that there is no interference on the line.
  • Make sure the room you’ll be holding the interview in is clear of clutter, neutral in colour and background and free of intrusive lighting, such as bright backlighting or bright lamps next to the screen.
  • Dress appropriately - this means exactly the same as you would for an in-person interview.
  • Turn up early - exactly the same as you before an in-person interview: aim for a few minutes before the interview and be on the call before the timer starts.
  • Make sure you set the right eyeline - this means when your interviewer is talking, look at the screen. But when you’re answering questions, as much as possible look directly at the camera. It will engage the interviewer more.
  • Prepare questions - just like any interview, you must have questions prepped and ready to be asked. You have the benefit of off-screen notes to utilise if you’re clever about it, but we always suggest telling the interviewer you have written notes, and warning them you’ll be reading from them and/or taking notes.

Post-interview Must-Dos

  • You must give your interviewer a handshake, or a meaningful and sincere thank you if you’re on a video interview.
  • You must send a thank you note or email to the interviewer post-interview, thanking them for their time and illuminating any lingering questions or points you didn’t make in the interview.
  • Finally, seek feedback! Your interviewer will have their judgements on your interview technique and process. Not only does it show that you’re willing to learn (always a strong suit in a job applicant) it naturally predisposes the interview to help you better your interviewing skills. This, naturally, means even if you don’t get the job, you learn and progress.
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