Alexander Graham Bell said “Before anything else, preparation is the key to success,” these wise words ring true when it comes to performing your best at interview. Effective interview preparation and research will not only boost your confidence in fully understanding the role and the organisation, it will enable you to tailor your communication to meet the organisation’s needs and demonstrate how you will add value to the business. This will help you to appear more engaged and enthusiastic about the role, increasing your opportunity for interview success.
Understand the specifics of the job description
The first step in preparing for an interview involves understanding and knowing all aspects addressed in the role description/advertisement and identifying specific examples that demonstrate your ability to meet their requirements.
Learn to talk the talk
Take on-board the language the organisation use to describe the primary purpose of the role and link your previous work experience to the key accountabilities to show your strengths in these areas. If the role description/advertisement highlights key challenges in the role be sure to prepare a response to show how you have overcome these or similar challenges in the past. Pay attention to key relationships stated in the description, as these individuals will be critical in the role to complete your tasks effectively. By understanding the overall purpose of these relationships beforehand you will be more in tune with the type of communication required to maintain effective relationships.
Develop an understanding of the company
After you have formed a thorough understanding of the role from the description/advertisement the next useful tool at your fingertips to gain greater Intel is through online research. Start by looking at the company website, research their mission and values, discover the range of services or products they offer, develop an understanding of their corporate culture, consider who their clients are, and look into their future goals.
- > Read their annual reportTo gain a deeper understanding of the organisation read their annual report (most large companies have an online copy), how many staff do they employ? Are they a growing business? Have they offices in multiple locations?> Read their online and offline content
Research online business magazines/articles; read up on any relevant blogs they have published, and review their LinkedIn profile to get a feel for their ‘hot topics’. Explore different sites to increase your context on their position in the industry. Who are their competitors and what sets them apart? By spending the time gathering this relevant information and knowledge you will be able to formulate how you can add value and how your skills can benefit the business.
Create your personal value proposition
On completing this, your next mission (if you choose to accept) is to create your personal value proposition relevant to the role and organisation you are applying to. Your value proposition is a succinct statement showcasing how your previous profession, the industries you have worked in, your expertise and personal attributes neatly combine to benefit this lucky employer! From your research to date, it will be clearer for you now to link your skills (those requested on the role description) and your values (developed throughout your life), to align with both the critical success factors for the role and the mission/values of the organisation.
Come up with some thought-provoking questions to impress in the interview
Once you are clear about what you have got to offer, and what the employer is hoping to receive, you are almost ready to pick up the phone and call the contact person. But before you do, it is useful to draft a few insightful questions that you have created from your research. By asking a couple of thought-provoking questions to gain a greater understanding of the role, and at the same time displaying your background knowledge, you will come across as an attentive candidate who is passionate about working for the organisation. Avoid asking closed questions or one that can be responded to with a quick answer, as part of your aim during the conversation is to develop rapport and leave a positive impression prior to the interview. It’s important to remember that the contact person may be receiving numerous calls so be mindful not to be greedy with their time. Be concise with your questioning, reveal some of your research but don’t recite chapter and verse all your ‘key learnings’ as there will be the opportunity to ask further intelligent questions based on your research at the actual interview.
Know your worth – research your salary
To curb any blush-worthy moments at the interview when the panel ask “what are your salary expectations?” make sure you complete market research during this preparation stage and know your worth. Research salary trends within the field, developing further your understanding of the current climate and the market rate for your level of skill and experience. By preparing your salary range (as opposed to an exact $ amount) you can then enquire with confidence at interview what their budget is for the role.
Look the part
One of the simplest ways to improve your success at an interview through preparation is researching industry dress standards and knowing what to wear on the day. If it’s been a while since you last donned business attire leave enough time beforehand to drop your outfit into the drycleaners (and perhaps even the tailors if you have blossomed a bit). It’s a good idea to do some exercise in the morning of your interview. Exercise will help curb your stress and increase blood flow, just make sure you allow yourself ample time to shower!
Arrive on time so you can compose yourself
Another way to make sure you arrive at the interview cool, calm and collected is to research the exact location of the venue, what level of the building they are located and the contact name to provide at reception. Once you have decided on how you will get to the interview, aim to arrive 15 minutes before the scheduled time to compose yourself.
Be Friendly and Outgoing to the Administration Staff
Clever interviewers will go out and ask the receptionist if they liked the candidate following the interview. All good managers realise the importance of keeping polite and friendly staff to create a great workplace culture, so make it part of your interview preparation to ask the receptionist how his/her day has been so far, wear a confident smile and speak audibly. Friendly confidence is a prized trait in an employee, make sure you exhibit it before you even meet your interviewer.
Leave the interviewer with a favourable lasting impression
During the interview don’t hold back on all your valuable research and knowledge, incorporate your understanding of their business requirements into the examples you provide to their questions. To close the interview ask 2 or 3 of your pre-prepared questions based on your research. Then finish with your well-constructed closing statement, this is a powerful tool which not only assists you in rectifying potential short comings in your interview, it leaves a favourable lasting impression that will make you stand out from other candidates.
At INS Career Management we offer one-on-one job interview coaching designed to fast-track your performance improvement and help you get the job you are looking for. If you are in need of more assistance with your job interview training contact us and we can guide you through the process.
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