How To Prepare For An Interview

1) Research the Company:

If you have applied for a position, it is likely that you are aware of the company and the industry that it operates within. However, it is important to go beyond a review of their website and carry out in-depth research into their corporate structure, turnover, previous accomplishments, growth, latest products / developments, corporate goals and competitors. For example, how do they differ from their closest competitors and how can your employment contribute to their ethos or targets?

This element is the most vital part of your preparation. The interview will certainly test your knowledge of the company and your research will enable you to go beyond the job description in your personal assessment of the position.

Likely questions are:

  • What do you believe we do?
  • Why do you want to work for us?
  • How do you think you could help us meet our goals?


2) Understand their requirements:

A significant proportion of the interviewer’s questions will relate to your ability to undertake the role so it is very important to be fully aware of the job’s requirements. Indeed, it is important not to restrain your understanding of the position to the job description, but to review other job descriptions posted online that correlate to the job title. By recording these varied requirements and referring to how they are met in your personal, academic and professional experiences to-date, you will repeatedly reinforce your suitability to the role throughout the interview.

Likely questions are:

  • What do you believe are the key day-to-day tasks in the role?
  • What do you think are the biggest challenges in the position?
  • Do you feel that there are any other tasks that you may need to carry out?


3) Prepare for their questions:

It is likely that the interview will include questions that enable the company to understand your future ambitions, your strengths and weaknesses, how you approach tasks and obstructions and, vitally, your character.

It is important to be honest in answering the questions! An interview is a two-way evaluation process and it is important that you provide an accurate assessment of yourself, whilst gaining a true overview of the company and the role-in-hand. By providing honest and accurate information, you will be able to concentrate on the next question, provide strong references and, most importantly, enjoy employment that is tailored to you and your talent!

Therefore, prepare notes that include bullet points of tasks that you are presently undertaking, qualifications that you have or wish to gain, evaluate your character; what are your strengths and weaknesses, and what is your leadership style.

Everybody has heard rumours of seemingly irrelevant and nightmarish questions being posed; eg. If you were an animal, what animal would you be? These are not questions that you can largely prepare for and there is no need to be nervous of them; the employer is not typically looking to receive a ground-breaking answer, but rather understand how you approach unanticipated questions in a formal environment. Therefore, if presented with an unusual question, take your time and support your answer with a logical explanation of your thought process.

Likely questions are:

  • Describe a standard day in your current/previous job.
  • Where do you see yourself in five years time?
  • What is your leadership style?


4) Prepare your own questions:

By preparing your own questions, you will enable the prospective employer to take a break from just reeling off questions and allow the interview to become a conversation; resulting in a less formal and more engaging meeting. You will also be able to demonstrate the research that you have undertaken and gain a fuller understanding of whether the role is as you have desired.

Likely questions are:

  • What on-going training is provided?
  • What is the composition of the current team?
  • How do you see the role developing in the future?


5) Dress and Travel Arrangements:

It is sometimes difficult to gauge what to wear in an interview; different industries and roles require various forms of dress. If you have found the position through a recruitment agency, contact your recruiter. If you have had a telephone interview, ask your interviewer or the employee who has contacted you to arrange the interview. If required, call the company’s receptionist or departmental secretary for their advice. If you’re unsure, wearing a formal suit or suit dress is likely to be better received than being underdressed.

Make sure that you plan your route to the interview carefully and, ideally, have travelled the same route prior to the interview day. To reduce any unnecessary stress, you should aim to arrive in the close vicinity of the employer thirty minutes before the interview is due to start; to enable you to run through your notes in a nearby coffee shop, and we would recommend entering their offices five before the scheduled interview time. It is important that you take the name and the phone number of the interviewer with you so that you are able to inform them directly should you be unexpectedly delayed.

Bring with you a copy of your CV, the names and contact details of your referees; both academic and employment, your prepared questions, a pen and a pad of paper. Depending on the role, you may wish to bring an example of your work; for example, bringing a press release tailored to the employer if you are applying for a public relations role. This is unusual but demonstrates your enthusiasm for the position, your ability to undertake it, provides a talking point and we have found that our clients have certainly been impressed when this has been undertaken.

We sincerely hope that you have found these tips useful, but if you have any questions then please don’t hesitate to call us on 020 3772 6729.

Best wishes in your interview,

The Barclay Search Team.

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