Preparing for interviews
How to prepare for an interview
Congratulations on successfully making it through to an interview! Regardless of the outcome this is an accomplishment that you should be proud of.
It is however important to think about how we can best prepare for an interview. Here are some points that need to be considered in your preparation:
Review the position description and become familiar with the duties, requirements and key selection criteria. Questions are most likely to be based around these areas outlined in the job advert or position description.
Research the organisation. Who they are and what do they do? Exploring the organisation’s website is a good place to start in capturing their values, vision and mission statements and current or future projects. Being proactive and researching issues affecting the organisation and the sector in general shows your commercial awareness and interest in industry trends.
Anticipate the questions and practice responses. You can start to feel more confident by practicing some of your answers out loud. Get friends and family members to ask you potential questions that you think might be in the interview (refer to position description or job advert).
Make sure that you have contacted your referees prior to attending an interview. They should be willing and ready to accept a call or email from the employer. You should come prepared with a list of your referees contact details if you have not already provided this information in your application.
Finally, remember an interview is a two way process. The employer is interviewing you, but you are also finding out about your potential employer and if the role is a good fit for you!
Types of recruitement practices
Before you are successfully offered a position, you typically need to follow a recruitment and selection process outlined by the employer. There are a range of different methods and activities that you may be required to undertake prior to a job offer being made.
Creating a video pitch or answering predetermined questions via video recording is another popular way in which employers screen candidates. It is important to treat this form of recruitment practice as you would an interview so be prepared, dress appropriately and ensure you have the right technological set-up prior to commencing the recording. Follow these simple steps to ensure that your video pitch is of the highest quality - Pre-Recorded Interview: Candidate Best Practices
For an employer, calling a candidate on the phone is an easy way to ask some further questions to ascertain whether they would like to meet you face to face or proceed through to an interview. Talking to an employer on the phone presents its challenges as you are unable to show your nonverbal communication cues, therefore, importance is greatly placed on your ability to communicate in a clear and concise manner. Consider these points further to showcase your skills and experience over the phone - How to ace a phone interview.
Online psychometric testing
Psychometric testing (often conducted online) is a tool used by employers to assess a candidate's aptitude against a varying list of expected capabilities.
Assessment centres / Group exercises
Assessment centres and group exercises are a very common method for graduate recruitment in assessing a large number of candidates in a day-long activity driven environment. You will often be assessed against a list of criteria focusing on your interpersonal, teamwork, communication and problem solving skills.
Interviews are a crucial part of any recruitment and selection process and can come in many forms such as Skype /Google Hangout, case studies, panel interviews and presentations. How you present yourself in an interview is often the deciding factor as to whether you will be offered a position.
How to anticipate questions
Large companies and government departments often use behavioural questions to try to predict how you would behave in their workplace. You’ll be able to spot a behavioural-style question when an employer asks you to provide an example of your past behaviour. They often start with phrases like, “Tell us about a time when…”.
The STAR technique is one way you can tackle behavioural questions.
Describe the Situation and/or Task, the Action (what you did), and the Result or outcome.
Try preparing recent examples that will be easier to recall in detail. Use examples from a range of experiences: work experience, academic work and extra-curricular activities. Be specific and don’t generalise. If using group activities as examples, be prepared to talk about what you contributed to the group.
Examples of these are:
- Can you think of any projects or activities you initiated on your own? Tell us about them.
- Tell us about a time when you had to act quickly in a crisis. What happened?
- We all miss deadlines from time to time. Can you give us an example of when you missed a deadline? What were the causes and how did you deal with the situation?
- Think about your employability skills (and plan how you will demonstrate them at the interview).
You’ll need to research the organisation, and think about what questions you could ask the employer. You should also prepare a portfolio of relevant documents that you need to take to the interview.
Other types of questions
If a question isn't behavioural – that is, not asking you to describe a past example of your behaviour - there’s no correct format for answers. The best preparation for these is to rely on your research and your motivations in applying for this job. Examples of other questions you might be asked are:
- What interests you in this job?
- What do you think are the major challenges for our industry right now?
- How would you describe your approach to project-based work?
When you are deciding what to wear for a job interview, you should first take into consideration the culture of the organisation and dress accordingly. Are you interviewing with a company where the employees wear suits everyday or do they wear t-shirts and jeans? If you are unsure, it is recommended that you dress conservatively to present a positive first impression. If your interview is arranged by a recruiter ask for their input on the best way to make a good impression.
Some other points to consider include:
- If the interview is in person, arrive ten minutes early. If it’s a video interview (recorded, or in real time), make sure you won’t be disturbed and that your technology setup is working.
- Greet the interviewer with a smile. If the interview is in person, shake their hand and wait to be offered a chair before sitting down.
- Maintain good eye contact.
- Keep your breathing regular to help stay calm and allow for a good pace when speaking.
- Be attentive, listen and be aware of good non-verbal communication skills. If you don’t understand a question, ask for clarification rather than rushing your answer. Silence while you think about your response is fine.
- Be energetic, positive and friendly.
Questions to ask
Questions to ask the employer are an important part in concluding the interview. It shows that you are not only interest to learn more about the role and organisation but also help you to make an educated decision as to whether this is the right job for you.
- Examples of questions to ask the employer may include:
- Can you tell me about the company culture?
- How has the organisation worked with recent industry changes?
- When might I expect to hear if I have been selected for the job?
- How is the role situated within the organisation? How does it interact with other teams? Will I have my own client base?
- What are the team’s goals for the next 12 months?
Practice your interviews with the video service Interview Stream. Record an interview and review your answers online with the most-used video interviewing platform in over 120 countries!
You can also use the online interview simulator to practise your interview technique with questions selected by leading hiring managers. You can record your mock interview and then compare your responses against the video advice from actual employers, who explain the difference between strong and weak answers. It’s a great way to get confident for job interviews.