What to Prepare for an Interview: 6 Proven Tips that Work

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In the below ‘What to Prepare for an Interview’ post you will learn tips and tricks on the following to ensure you are 200% prepared and confident going into your interview:

  • Research the company
  • Know who is interviewing you
  • Tailoring your answers to the role
  • Smalltalk
  • Dress
  • Time

What to Prepare for an Interview #1: Research of the Company

Interviewers will ask you what you know about the company/organisation. The more research of the company you do, the more chance you have of making a better impression than the other interviewees.

To try and get as much good info on the company as possible:

  • Read the company’s Wikipedia page to get a high-level overview. (if it doesn’t have a Wikipedia page, have a good google to see what they do)
  • Read/watch 3-5 interviews given by the CEO in the last year/18mths (google the ‘name of CEO’ and ‘interview’)
  • Download the annual report if it’s a public company/organisation. (If it’s a public company/organisation, then googling ‘annual report’ will get it easily. Read the CEOs’/Chairmans’ statement and strategy parts. This will give you some great info on the companys’ strategy)
  • Google the company name and hit ‘news’ on the top of the first page (Why are they making headlines? Read 5-10 articles you find interesting)

    What to prepare for an interview 2
    image: Google News

Once you have done the above research, think of 3-5 things that other interviewees won’t say.

You are looking for information that will really impress the interviewers that you know this. Now memorise this info and be able to bring it up in casual conversation even if you are not asked.

If you do too much research and can’t articulate it well enough then it’s not much good to you!

What to Prepare for an Interview #2: Know who is Interviewing You

Who are the people interviewing you? What is their position? How long have they been with the company? What is their background? Make sure you find them on LinkedIn and do some research.

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image credit: inc.com

What do you think they will be looking for in a candidate? Can you get info about them from the recruitment consultant? Can you get any insights from the recruitment consultant about how the other interviews went?

When you get some info, try to say something that the hiring manager will relate to. If the person has started off in a graduate position, maybe ask them about this? If they have done a similar role to you then make sure you talk about this role during the interview.

The more you can build a rapport or connection with your interview, the more you will differentiate yourself from the other candidates.

What to Prepare for an Interview #3: Tailoring Your Answers to the Role

 (The below are the steps I go through to ensure I impress the interviewers as much as possible. You can tailor them to suit your situation)

1) Look at the job spec and circle the 5 most important responsibilities/skills that you think the hiring manager is looking for.

2) Put these key characteristics at the top of the page of possible questions. (I’ve included some at the end of this blog post) Then try to bring out these 5 characteristics/traits out in all your answers as much as you can.

3) Go through the possible questions and type up answers for the ones you think you might be asked using the STAR method.

(For each question, firstly set out the Situation – I usually skip talking about the Target – then talk about the Action you did, then conclude with the Result)

4) After typing out an answer using the STAR method to 5, 10, 15 questions, you will find you can use the same examples to answer many of the questions.

5) Once you’ve typed out tailored answers to the company/role, go through them repeatedly until you know them well.

6) Then make a summary page with the most probable questions and a trigger word to remind you what you are going to say.

Go over this again and again until you are really polished and confident. This way, you only have to remember one word instead of a long-winded robotic answer, and your answers will seem a lot more natural.

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image: pnw.edu

What to Prepare for an Interview #4: Questions to Ask the Interviewer(s)

To impress the interviewer(s), try and think of questions the other candidates won’t ask. Think of questions that you won’t get the answer to on Google or the company website, or that will give you a real insight into what it’s like to work there.

Basically, you are trying to find questions that will make you look smart! When you come up with some, always run them past someone older than you to see if they really do make you look smart!

A well-placed question at the end of an interview can be enough to pip another good candidate to the role.

Some of the ones I tend to ask are:

1) What do you hope this person will have achieved after 2yrs?

2) What will be the main challenges in this role?

3) What are the main challenges in your role (i.e. Hiring Manager)?

4) What is the culture like here compared to other companies you have worked in?

5) Who will this persons’ key stakeholders be?

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image: questionsgems

What to Prepare for an Interview #5: Smalltalk

Smalltalk is a great way to show interviewers that you are personable and will be a good fit for the company.

Try and use this small talk to find out what you can about them i.e. did you do anything nice last wkd? Any nice plans this wkd? Any holidays coming up? etc. Also, have answers to some small talk questions prepared so you come across as well as possible.

The above may seem overkill, but remember you need to make the best impression of all the candidates to land the job.

You might do a great interview, but not strike up a rapport with the hiring manager afterwards and you might lose out to someone who has done both!

What to Prepare for an Interview #6: Dress

“You never get a second chance to make a first impression”

Always dress your best. If you can look smarter than the other candidates, then that will help to stick in the memory of the hiring manager.

Appendix: Possible Questions You Could Be Asked

  • Take me through your CV
  • What do you know about Company X?
  • Why do you want to work for Company X?
  • What can you bring to the role?
  • Tell me about a time when you managed a difficult stakeholder?
  • Who were your main stakeholders in your last role?
  • How have you driven change/improvement?
  • What is your leadership style?
  • Tell me about a time you have had to influence internal/external stakeholders?
  • Why do you want to leave Company Y?
  • Why can’t you get a good role in Company Y?
  • What are your strengths?
  • What are your weaknesses?
  • How do you manage multiple priorities?
  • How do you work across boundaries?
  • Tell me about a time you had to make a tough business decision?
  • Tell me about a time you acted in the best interests of the company?
  • How do you manage conflict?
  • Tell me about a time when you demonstrated problem-solving skills?
  • Tell me about a time when you got the business to accept your ideas?
  • How would your boss describe you?
  • How would your friends describe you?
  • Tell me about a time you failed?
  • Why shouldn’t we hire you?
  • What do you like to do in your spare time?
  • What are you most proud of?
  • How do you like to be managed?
  • What are your career aspirations?
  • Where do you see yourself in 5yrs time?
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