How to Prepare for an Interview: the Strange, the Funny, and the Serious
A recent report suggests one in three students admit to wearing “good luck underwear” to boost their chances in an exam – and this is something many people adopt for interviews as well. It doesn’t stop at underwear either, people have admitted to taking ‘lucky’ pens, jewellery and charms as well. While we can’t vouch for how lucky these things actually are – we’re pretty sceptical to be honest – if taking them is a way of improving your confidence, then embrace the strength you get from any inanimate object!
All about that Bass:
New research from The Society for Personality and Social Psychology has shown that what is true in a nightclub could also be true of the interview room, that bass-heavy music gets you pumped and ready to perform! Bass-heavy tracks, such as 50 Cent’s ‘In da Club’ or Queen’s ‘We Will Rock You’, could form part of your perfected pre-interview warm-up. Drop some beats and get in there!
A big stiff one:
No, not that kind of stiff one. A drink of course! That’s right, a stiff drink in the morning to settle those nerves, with whiskey the drink of choice more often than not. Well, we certainly wouldn’t recommend it, we’ve all done things we regret after a drink or two; you don’t want that in the interview room! (*Note, we really, really do not recommend this).
Bringing Sexy Back:
According to a recent survey of graduate interview candidates, there is one common pre-interview activity that really will get the blood pumping. You guessed it, job hopefuls have been ‘relieving stress’ in the old fashioned way – between the sheets. Well, not always between the sheets, as it sounds like they’ve been ‘doing it alone’ more than in pairs, but all in an effort to calm themselves down before heading to the interview room… Let’s hope they wash their hands properly afterwards!
What we know!
Research the role:
There is nothing we would recommend more than thoroughly researching the role, company, and surrounding industry before you head into an interview. Some knowledge will certainly be expected and any extra nuggets of information you have will help you stand out from the crowd. So what should you be looking for? To get started, find out what they do, how long they’ve been operating, what their company goals are, and think about what you might be able to bring to the table. What makes you the right person for the job? This is a question they will almost certainly ask you in one form or another, and prior research will give you time to formulate proper responses (as well as helping you decide if you actually want to work with the company in the first place).
Update your CV and personalise it:
You don’t want your CV to look like a detailed shopping list, with point after point, page after page, noting the different positions you’ve worked in. This is a good thing to keep in your own files for future reference, but it isn’t what you should be using to advertise yourself to a hiring manager. When applying for a new job, your CV doesn’t need to include everything; it is an overview of your past work history, but it should only mention the best of the best. Look at the job specification and see what attributes are necessary for the role you’re applying for; then tailor your CV to suit, highlight how you’ve excelled in those areas in past roles (having examples and quantifiable results are a big bonus!).
Practice your elevator pitch:
This is the same for interviews, for networking, and even for those of you engaged in postgraduate research: If you only had a minute or two to tell someone about yourself and your work, what would you say? You need to be clear and concise, cut straight to the chase and sum everything up in a few sentences; don’t waste your breath on the trivial information. You might want to include information about your work history, your (relevant!) interests, and what work you’re looking to engage in in the future. Make sure you then relate back to how that would benefit you in your new role.
Anticipate tough questions:
Interviews are there to test you, they are not just an opportunity to shake hands and sign a contract. Your goal should always be to show off what it is that makes you shine, what it is about your skillset that will benefit their organisation and how you’ll fit into the team. It is incredibly important that you spend some time practicing answering difficult questions: “What is your biggest weakness?”, “Where do you see yourself in five years?”, or “What makes you better than any of the other candidates I’ve interviewed?”. When you talk about past accomplishments and vital skills, it’s imperative that you provide good examples to validate what you’re saying. Always try to make sure you have more examples than you will need; this will stop you from repeating yourself!