How to Prepare for a Job Interview

By Dara Braithwaite

Job interviews can be a bit nerve wracking, but there are some easy ways to make sure you’re prepared and ready to impress any interviewers you may face!

Research

Hopefully you’ve done a bit of research on the organisation when tailoring your application and cover letter.  Revisit this research, and find out as much as you can about the organisation.

If you know the names of your interviewers, search for them on LinkedIn and find a bit more about their background.  If you get a chance during the interview, you can slip this into the conversation.  For example, you may see that one of your interviewers had a similar start to their working life as you – mention this, and ask how they got to be where they are now.

Finally, ensure you revisit the job description, and familiarise yourself as much as possible with the role.

Practice Answers to Common Questions

During your interview you will be asked a variety of questions, so make sure you practice answering many different types of questions beforehand – from the introductory and motivational, through to behavioural questions. UTS:Careers has some great questions that you can practice answering here.

Remember to use the STAR approach to behavioural questions.  A good tip is to think of examples that can be used to answer more than one question.   For instance, could a situation where you had to negotiate with a superior, also be an example of when you had to communicate something complicated?

Practice Questions

Just as important as practicing answers to questions that may be asked during your interview, think of some questions you can ask your interviewer(s).  Plan to have at least two questions, but no more than four, that way if the interviewer(s) answer one of your questions during the interview, you have another one prepared to ask at the end.

Good areas to cover in these questions are things about the role or the company. A good idea is to note down any questions as you are conducting your initial research.  You may want to know more about the culture of the company, or what the day-to-day responsibilities of the role are.

If the questions you have prepared were already answered during the interview, don’t fret.  Instead, if asked whether you have any questions, simply answer with: “Thank you, but I was going to ask about xyz and zyx, and you’ve answered those questions earlier”.  This shows that you had prepared questions, and are not going to waste their time by asking them to repeat the answer, while also showing that you have active listening skills.

Plan Your Outfit

A couple of nights before the interview, plan your outfit.  Try it on.  The last thing you want to find out the morning of the interview is that your pants are suddenly too tight, or there is a prominent hole in your shirt!  Make sure your clothes are laundered, and are ironed.

Another thing to consider is the shoes you will wear.  Are they polished and free of scuffs?  Do they match the outfit?  Are they comfortable?  Can you walk in them?

Plan Your Journey to the Location

You want to arrive at the interview location 10-15 minutes prior to the interview start time.   Any earlier than this and you may fluster the interviewers who may not be ready for your arrival.  Any later than this and you are encroaching on being late, which is not a good first impression to make!

Plan your journey so you know what time you need to leave home.  If you’re driving, research where to park, and if you’re taking public transport make sure you know which stop to get off at, and how far you need to walk.  The few minutes it takes to research the night before can lessen the need for being flustered on the day!

Release Endorphins

The best piece of pre-interview advice I ever received was to go for a quick walk just before an interview.  When we are stressed, our body goes into flight or fight mode, as our body’s Autonomic Nervous System is still wired to “caveman days” when stress was generally caused by imminent danger.  Our body still has not evolved to differentiate between perceived danger or stress, and physical danger. This causes blood and oxygen to flow more quickly to our organs, rather than to our brains, preparing us to get away, or fight the danger to help us survive.  (Milosevic & McCabe 2015).

By heading for a quick, brisk walk, our body releases the endorphins locked up in the fight or flight mode, by thinking we are “taking flight”, allowing the blood and oxygen to flow back into our brains, enabling us to think more clearly!

You may want to plan to get off one bus stop earlier to include a quick walk on the way to the interview.  Always make sure that you incorporate the earlier bus stop and walk when you plan your journey.

Upon Arrival

Once you arrive at the interview location, be sure to follow any instructions given to you (i.e. take the lift to Level 25 and ring John Smith using the phone on the wall).  If you need to let someone know of your arrival in person, whether it be a receptionist, or someone who greets you in a waiting area, be sure to be professional and pleasant to them.  You’d be surprised by how many interviewers will ask the person who the candidates initially greet what they thought of them.  Bear in mind that this person is likely to be watching your behaviour while you wait – little things such as playing on your phone could be deal breakers! Instead, sit in the designated area patiently and wait to be called.

 


Dara is passionate about helping UTS students achieve their career goals, and has a strong background in customer service, human resources and the higher education sector.  Currently working as a Recruitment Administrator at UTS:Careers, Dara connects UTS students with industry through sourcing and advertising quality internships and opportunities.


 

(Resource used: Milosevic, I. & McCabe, R.E., 2015. Phobias: The Psychology of Irrational Fear: The Psychology of Irrational Fear, Greenwood, Santa Barbara: USA.)

 

Featured image courtesy of Unsplash

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