So, you’ve secured an interview, yay! Now what?
The initial excitement probably lasted for around 10 seconds, and now you’re left with an overwhelming feeling of panic. Interviews are scary, but preparation is key. Taking the time to do your research will put you in the best position to make a good impression and keep your nerves at bay.
Types of Interviews
There are a few different types of interviews, and for one position you will probably experience at least two different formats. In our post pandemic world, a lot of employers are still favouring virtual interviews, at least for the first stage. The email you receive inviting you to interview will detail everything you need to know, but it will be one of the following:
- Phone Call – Usually the first stage in an interview process. Even though it is over the phone, it is still a formal interview, and you must remain professional.
- Video Call – Mostly likely to be via Zoom, Skype, or Teams. Check out the programme prior to your interview just to make sure it works with your computer, and you know how to use it (not the best idea to spend the first 5 mins of your interview being told how to unmute your mic.)
- Face to face – An in-person interview could be one on one, or with a panel of 2 or more people.
- Group Discussion/Assessment Centre – Some companies will bring in multiple candidates in a workshop style setting, and have you work in teams to discuss a problem and come up with the solution. This is to assess how well you work with others, and how effectively you can communicate your ideas in a group.
Preparation is Key
Getting yourself prepared is 100% the most important thing you can do in the lead up to your interview. Not only will it mean you are ready to face any question thrown at you, but knowing you’ve done your research will help calm your nerves. Make sure you leave yourself enough time to do this. Cramming is not the way forward and leaving everything till the night before will only stress you out even more!
Research the company
Make sure you have a good understanding of who your prospective employer is, and what they do. What industry do they work in? How big is the company? Who are their main competitors/customers? Are there any known changes that have happened to the company recently – such as expansion? Knowing this prior to interview proves you have a passion for the role. It also helps to keep your cool. When the employer inevitably talks to you about their company, you won’t be overwhelmed or distracted by new information. Because most of it you’ll already know.
The job description is there to help you. STUDY IT. It will cover the specific responsibilities of the role, and the essential/desired experience. You will be asked a lot of competency-based questions, so you need to make sure you have a good understanding of the role to prove that you are the best candidate. You will be expected to provide examples from your own experience and use them to show you have the right skills for the job. Knowing the exact requirements before your interview will help you, as it means you can spend time thinking of the perfect examples and have some answers prepared.
There’s no harm in being nosey and knowing who you can expect to meet can help make you feel more at ease. The email inviting you to interview will more than likely include the name/s of the person or panel you will be seeing. Have a look on the company website to find out if they have a ‘meet the team’ page, or look at who is listed as working there on LinkedIn. Seeing their photos and finding out a little more about them can give you the illusion of familiarity. You’ll feel less like you’re entering a room full of strangers which in turn will help your confidence and ensure you make a great first impression.
If there’s anything I’ve learnt from years of stressy interviews, it’s that if something can go wrong, it probably will. Make sure you have the logistics of the day all set out, to minimize any possible disasters.
1. Where exactly do you need to be? Google maps is your best friend and use it (or any online map) to find the exact location of where you’re going and the best route to get there. If you’re driving, find out where to park. When using public transport give yourself an extra 10 minutes at least, just in case anything is running late.
2. Ensure you know the time you are expected to arrive and get there 5 minutes early. Also make sure you know who you are asking for when greeted.
3. You might be asked to bring specific documents with you, so ensure you have them ready. It can also be a good idea to have a notebook and pen in case you need to take notes (if you’re going to an assessment day, definitely bring a notebook!) Other than that, a bottle of water, and anything else you need to get you to and from the interview.
Dealing With Interview Stress
Anxiety is inevitable in stressful situations; the important thing is how you deal with it. We all have different ways of relaxing, so find what methods work best for you to keep calm. For instance, taking deep, slow breaths and concentrating on your breathing will trick your nervous system into thinking you’re relaxed, even if you’re not. The most important thing is not letting your nerves affect your performance. Think about your voice and body language: try not to speak too fast, don’t fold your arms, and try to maintain eye contact.
Stay positive. Remember that they have chosen to see you for a reason. They’ve been impressed with your application enough to want to meet you, and if you’ve already had a first stage interview and been invited back again, you can reassure yourself that they like you. Don’t let imposter syndrome get the better of you, remind yourself that you totally deserve to be in the room.
You are interviewing them. Interviews are not just about you trying to impress employers and be the best candidate for the role, it’s also an opportunity for you to make sure the job and the company are the right fit for you. Sometimes it might not be, and it’s ok if it takes a while to find that perfect match. Think of the interview as a chance for you to find out about them and how they work, as well as the other way around.
Practice makes perfect. Performing well in interviews is a bit of an art, and how do any of us improve on things we do? Practice! The more interviews you do, the better you’ll get. You’ll learn the type of questions commonly asked and know how to answer them effectively. Even if an interview doesn’t go how you would have hoped, it’s all a learning experience to help you ace the next one.
After the Interview
The hard bit is over, now for the (sometimes) agonizing wait until you are told the outcome. Find out when you can expect to know their decision and use that time to really decide if you want the position. If you decide it’s not for you, let them know asap and decline politely - You may want to work for them in the future!
Be on time
Do your best