The best way to feel confident and counteract nerves before an interview is to prepare thoroughly. If you go into the interview knowing that you have a good understanding of the company, the job and what you can offer, this will help you give clear and well-informed answers.
My top five tips for preparing for an interview are:
1. Do your research…
The employer, reasonably enough, is going to expect you to have some understanding of what they do, who their competitors are, what new projects they have recently started or are due to start, etc. You can find all of this information by doing some research:
- Look at the company’s website. There will be information on there about what they have been doing lately and also any upcoming projects they might have on the horizon.
- If you know anyone who works for the company, ask them for any useful information
- Have a look at the websites of professional organisations such as the Law Society to give you an overview of the sector as a whole.
2. Think about what they will ask you…
Looking through the job description and person specification for the role should give you some idea of what the employer is likely to ask you. However, you should also:
- Read through your application form and/or CV. It’s good to refresh your memory about what you said when you applied for the job, as it is likely that you will be asked about this.
- Give some thought to typical interview questions such as “What are your strengths and weaknesses?”, “Why do you want this job?” and “What can you bring to this role?”
3. Think about your skills…
Many employers now use a competency-based style of interviewing. This means they will ask you to give examples of when you have demonstrated a particular skill.
Looking through the person specification and job description will give you an idea of the sort of skills they are looking for, so it’s a good idea to consider when you have demonstrated these skills. The examples you use can be from any area of your life. For instance you may have demonstrated leadership skills when you were captain of a sports team, or shown team working skills in your part time job in a shop. The context of the example is less important than how you explain it: be clear about what you did and how it demonstrates the skill.
4. Prepare questions to ask them…
An interview is a two-way process and it should be an opportunity for you to ask the employer some questions to assess whether or not you are interested in the job and the company. Many employers report that applicants do not have any questions for them at the end of the interview, which can make the applicant look like they are not very interested in the job. Typical questions might include:
- Are there any training and development prospects?
- What upcoming projects might I be able to get involved in?
- What is the structure of the team?
Try and avoid questions about salary, holidays, benefits, etc, as this may make the employer think you’re not really interested in the job, just the wage!
5. Final preparations…
To help you feel more confident there are a number of simple things you can do:
- Decide what you’re going to wear in advance and make sure it is clean and ironed. Rushing about on the morning of an interview trying to find a clean shirt can put you in a panic for the interview itself!
- Plan your route: make sure you know exactly where you’re going and how to get there. It can be a good idea to do a “dummy run” in advance.
- Make sure you have all the documents you need prepared the day before. The employer may ask you to bring ID, your CV or certificates.
- Get a good night’s sleep the night before.