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Job interview preparation
Here's what you need to do!

Job interview preparation is at least as important as the interview itself, if not more so. Preparing for a job interview really is that important!

So.....what sort of job interview preparation is required? Here are the key areas where preparation is needed:

  • Research, research, research - the organisation, industry and the job itself
  • Anticipate questions you are likely to be asked and prepare your answers to them
  • Prepare questions you are going to ask
  • Prepare your tactics during the interview so that you create a favourable impression
  • Take the time to practice and develop essential job interview skills
  • The logistics of attending the interview -things like dress code, knowing where the interview is being held, how to get there and so on

Job interview preparation - doing your research

Most people know that it is important to prepare for an interview. And.....most people realise that this involves doing some research.

Also, when it comes to research, many people are unsure about what research is needed, and also how carry it out. So....what research is needed?

At the very least, the employer will expect that you know something about the organisation.....in fact, sometimes this might be the very first interview question you are asked "What do you know about us?"

You will therefore create a good impression if you can explain, in some detail, things like:

  • The size of the organisation, its sales and turnover, market share, where it operates, number of people it employs and so on
  • The key markets or clients the organisation serves
  • The primary business, products and services that the organisation provides, or deals in
  • The primary reason for the existence of the organisation - for example its mission, vision, values
  • And.....be able to share what you know about its history, current challenges or opportunities

Researching the organisation

Take the time to find out as much as you can about your possible future employer.

Doing the type of research described above clearly communicates that you are sufficiently interested in working for this organisation to spend some time finding out what makes it tick, what's important, and the types of challenges and opportunities that lie ahead.

By finding out what is important to the organisation you can then begin to think in terms of how to explain how your skills, knowledge and experience might assist the organisation to achieve what it considers to be important.

Research the industry, or broader setting

This is something that a real professional would do. By researching the industry, or broader setting in which the organisation operates you can communicate your understanding of the bigger picture.

Are you targeting a senior management position? If so, it would be expected that you have the ability to think, plan and operate strategically.

Developing an in-depth understanding of the bigger picture is a necessity in this case. The same requirement exists in situations where you are making a career change, and don't have experience in this setting.

Researching your interviewers

Always try to get the names and positions of your interviewers. Then, why not do some research on them?

You can really set yourself apart from other candidates with some inside knowledge you might have about their opinions, interests, achievements etc. You must of course do this sensitively - you don't want to give the impression that you are stalking the interview panel!

Where do find out this sort of information - well.....the internet and social media websites contain an extraordinary amount of information. In many cases, it's as simple as doing a Google search.

Job interview preparation - questions and answers

There are different types of interviews, and therefore you might expect that the type of questions asked in each might vary - they do.

Check out types of interviews you might need to do, so that you are better prepared to deal with questions that might be asked.

The types of questions you'll be asked will also be determined by the type of job interview process that is used by the organisation.

Job interview process

The challenge we all face in job interview preparation is that we can never really be sure about the job interview process being used - unless you have inside information, through your network, for example.

In large organisations, and in government, you can expect job interviews to be highly structured. There are a variety of interviewing processes which might be used, depending on organisation policy.

For example, one organisation that I know of - DDI, or Development Dimensions International, specialises in training people in organisations in the art of job interviewing - a process called "Targeted Selection". Their process includes a heavy reliance on the use of behavioural interview questions.

In terms of job interview preparation, obviously you will need to prepare answers to typical interview questions - follow the link to see what these questions are.

In my experience typical interview questions that you are likely to be asked fall into the following categories:

  • Questions that will explore your skills, knowledge and qualifications.
  • Questions that explore your motivation in applying for the position, your attitude and approach towards work, and where you are heading in your career.
  • Questions that explore your fit with the organisation

It is possible for you to anticipate what some of the questions might be.

For example, in planning answers to questions about your skill and knowledge you only need to look at the job advertisement, or the selection criteria to work out which aspects of your skill and knowledge they'll be asking you about.

Job interview preparation tip

For each of the areas of skill and knowledge that appear in the job advertisement, or in the selection criteria, ensure that you have at least one example of where and how you have applied that skill or knowledge.

At the very least you will need to have answers to these top 10 interview questions. They occur so regularly in the job interview process that you can just about guarantee being asked one of these questions.

Job interview preparation - the questions you ask

The advice here is simple. You need to have some prepared questions that you will ask when invited to do. Why?

The questions that you ask are another way for you to demonstrate that you really are determined to land this job.

Questions that you ask

Here's an early tip...... make sure that your questions are focused on the job.... it's challenges, priorities, goals,performance measurement and feedback.

Avoid at all costs questions that relate to salary or working conditions.

Job interview preparation - your interview tactics

Did you know that there are things you can do at various stages of the interview that can make all the difference to you standing out from the other candidates?

These tactics, and how to prepare for them, are covered in detail in job interview skills.

As an example, there are some really simple, but highly effective things that you can do during the introductions or greeting stage of the interview that will help you make an early favourable impression with the interview panel members.

Similarly, there are things you can do towards the conclusion of the interview that will help reinforce the positive impression you've been trying to create all the way through the interview.

Preparing your interview tactics is a very important part of your preparation.

Job interview preparation - the logistics

This aspect of interview preparation is pretty basic, but none the less essential.

Being punctual for an interview is for example essential. So....in your planning and preparation have you factored in things like:

  • How long will it take you to get to the interview?
  • Do you need to consider something as simple as likely levels of traffic congestion if you are driving to the interview, what is parking availability like etc?
  • If using public transport, is it reliable? How close will public transport take you to the interview location?
  • Your appearance - clothing, personal grooming. Are there special requirements or expectations to meet? If you are unsure, it's probably better to err on the side of caution, and dress up, rather than dress down for your interview.

Job interview preparation - summary

Being prepared for your interview is really all about doing what is necessary so that you can perform at your best when the interview actually occurs.

A job interview does require a performance from you......it is a bit like acting in a way. Actors prepare and rehearse in order to impress their audience. They want to get it right at show time!

Similar thing in an interview. Your audience is the interview panel.....and it's your show.

Your reward for a great performance - a job offer!

New! Comments

Has this helped you in your job search? What else would you like to see here about job search? Leave me a comment in the box below.
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