How to Prepare for a Job Interview
Job interviews are tricky. It’s a difficult balance between showcasing your skills, and not sounding like you’re showing off. So how are you supposed to find your footing? Here's our top tips for how to ace your next job interview.
by Rob Eades / 2021-09-09
They're perhaps the four most dreaded words in the English language: "Tell me about yourself." There's something about hearing this question in an interview that makes us forget everything we've ever done up until that point. If just the idea of this kind of interview question puts you in a cold sweat, then you've come to the right place; we’ve gathered the brain trust of career consultants, interview experts, and top recruiters to provide job-seekers with the best tips and tricks for how to nail a job interview, and land your dream job in the process. With any luck, it won't be long until you hear those sacred words: “You’re hired.”
Valerie Sutton helps us to prepare for every question and identify our strengths and weaknesses so that you can shine in front of an interview panel.
1. Be adaptable
No two interviews will be the same - so why prepare the same answers? There is no one-fits-all approach to answering interview questions, there’s just far too many variables. It depends on who you’re speaking to, what the job is for or even the mood within the room.
Valerie Sutton’s advice is to research the panel beforehand so you can get a good idea of the room.
2. Don’t be afraid to mention your strengths
It can be difficult to talk about yourself. But it can be even more difficult to talk about how good you are.
Unfortunately, being asked to talk about your strengths is commonplace in an interview. The best policy here is honesty. Just give good examples of when you have previously excelled at something.
3. Show what makes you interesting
No interviewer wants to hire someone devoid of a personality, so don’t be afraid to let yours shine. Don’t forget that recruiters are not just hiring you to do a job; they’re also hiring you to work around their existing teams.
So make sure to highlight what makes you you.
To find about how to put this advice into actionable next steps, check out our Mastering Common Interview Questions Hack on Uptime.
Career coach Robin Ryan aims to provide any job-seekers out there with the confidence to breeze through the interview stage and land that dream job.
1. Hammer it home
To be successful in an interview, you have to make it clear that you’re the best choice. The best way to do that is consistently remind the interviewer of how fantastic you are… obviously.
Make a list of your top five most marketable skills and find a way to constantly weave them into your conversation. If done correctly, they’ll realise the value you have.
2. Perfect preparation
Preparation is the killer of fear. It can honestly be as simple as that. If you’ve fully prepared for an interview then you can go in knowing you have already done your best. One of the best ways to prepare is by practising the answers to some common interview questions. Getting your answers prepared beforehand will help to settle your nerves and allow the interviewer to see your best side.
3. “Do you have any questions?”
The answer to this question should always be yes. When an interviewer asks you if you have any questions, this isn’t a throw away comment. This is a chance for you to shine.
You should always prepare 3-5 questions about the company that shows you’ve done your due diligence and researched the job properly.
To find out how you can do this, check out our 60 Seconds & You're Hired summary on Uptime.
In the wake of COVID-19, the very nature of our working life has completely transformed. Many of us are now working remotely, our LinkedIn profiles double up as a quick CV for recruiters to peruse, and, in the last 18 months, interviews are very often conducted over Zoom. Career coach Jenny Foss is here to help us adapt to the new digital climate.
1. Familiarise yourself with Zoom, Google Meets, or the chosen video-call platform of choice
If you haven’t had a video interview before, make sure to dip your toe in the waters before you start the call. Try practising with a family member or a friend so that you can learn the ropes before you dive into the deep end.
2. Pick out your outfit carefully (or, at least, your shirt)
Talking to someone via a video isn’t quite the same as meeting them in person. You can’t sense the energy of the person in the room or shake their hand, so the smaller things become more important.
Make sure your outfit and your background are suitable and in line with the company’s dress code. It will instantly send a message to the interviewer that you’re professional and clued in to their needs.
3. Lights, Camera, Action!
It sounds simple, but make sure everything is working before you dial in.
Get your camera up and running, check that you’re well lit and clearly visible, and make sure that your microphone is in working order. It’s these little things that can be the difference between a smooth interview and a stop-start one. Also, you don't want to send a message to your prospective employer that you're disorganised - it's good to look well-prepared.
For more Zoom interview tips, have a look at our Video Interview Tips summary on Uptime.
Are you recently graduated, fresh out of college, or new to the interview process? Aimee Bateman has built this course to help job-seekers build an interview that's sharper than a sales pitch.
1. Build your brand
We’ve already mentioned the dreaded ‘tell me about yourself’ question - but Aimee Bateman has the follow up solution ready and raring:
Build yourself a brand.
Before your interview, you should have a short and snappy brand statement prepared that will tell the company exactly who you are, and what value you can bring.
2. Bring examples of past experience
Interviewers will often ask you to tell them about a time when you faced a challenge. This is so that they can judge your general competency. You should have at least 3 different answers locked and loaded where around 70% of the answer is your actions and the result of the actions you took.
3. It’s already begun
Aimee Bateman highlights a not often talked about point in interviews. Your interview doesn’t start when you’re invited into the room, it starts as soon as you enter the building.
Make sure to greet and be nice to everyone around you - not just the interviewer. They’re going to be looking at you as an employee and you as a person, so don’t only show your good side to the interviewer.
For more tips on how to put these ideas into action, have a look at our Interview Masterclass summary on Uptime.
Interviews shouldn’t be a terrifying experience; at their core, they're just a chance for you to talk to somebody about something that you hopefully have a passion for.
""After all, a job interview is just as much an opportunity to see if the company is a right fit for you, as much as if you're the right fit for the company.""
So the next time you’re sitting in a lobby and full of nerves, remember the advice listed here, and walk in with a confident smile. And if you need some tips on knuckling down enough to do some good interview prep, why not check out our top tips for better concentration?