How to prepare for an interview - before, on the day and after - RECRUITdee insider insight
So you’ve got the interview you wanted? Great work, they must like you. Now let’s give you the edge with some tried and tested interview prep actions. These aren’t just a ‘top 10 things to do’, they’re the best preps we’ve seen from our 20+ years in recruitment. We give this advice (and more) to our candidates in IT, finance and consulting to help them before, on the day and after their interview.
Before the interview
Become an expert on their business
Research their products and services, get on their LinkedIn profile especially, but look at all of their social accounts, and Glassdoor. Check Google News for recent events involving them, read their blog, read industry news sites to learn of any recent happenings. If you know who’s interviewing you, do the same for them, you can bet they’re checking you out too (we’ll come to that in the next tip).
The point of this research is to sound informed to the interviewer and to prove you’re taking the opportunity seriously. But more than this, it’s about you feeling confident when having conversations in the interview. By being clued-up, you’ll be able to walk into that room knowing you’ve done all you can to give yourself the best chance possible.
Don’t be upset if nothing related to you comes up, this step is just to ensure that you’re seeing what the interviewer will see when they do the same search. If there’s anything out of date or wrong, go and change it if you can. It may not update in time for the interviewer to see it, but at least you’ll know what they may ask you about.
Do a practice run
Practice makes perfect in every walk of life, so get your friend round and ask them to be the interviewer. They should ask the obvious questions (such as "Tell me about yourself") as well as industry-related questions such as ones about IT jobs in Bangkok for example, and also some you might not expect. It’s important to know the skills the employer is looking for (ask your recruiter if not in the job spec) and get your friend to focus on them.
The power of conditioning is amazing, the more you practice, the more your thoughts relax as the process becomes familiar. Your feelings will follow, allowing you to be focused and think clearly, helping you give stronger answers.
If you look good, you feel good. And if you feel good, you’re more likely to be relaxed and confident, which is perfect for an interview situation. Key to this is asking the recruiter what dress code is expected. For example, if it’s an IT technician role, a polo shirt and casual trousers may be fine, as there could be a trial to complete. If it’s a finance role, then smart wear is usually expected. Know what they’ll expect and look your best inside those guidelines.
Do as much prep before the day as possible:
- Get your clothes ready a few nights before.
- Buy a pen, notepad and folder for any docs...
- Prepare those docs a week ahead, you know some will be hard to find.
- Plan the journey and actually do it before the interview day, so you know about anything that might cause delays. Aim to arrive ten minutes before your interview is scheduled, enough time to relax but not long enough to get anxious.
- If you’ll need special access or equipment for your interview, such as Braille, an interpreter or ramp access, let your recruiter know.
- Have a small bottle of water ready to take.
- Put your photo ID with your keys, ready for the morning.
On the day
Get the basics right on the morning of your interview - make sure you have a healthy breakfast, nothing huge and keep the caffeine to a minimum. If you have time, do some exercise, even if it’s just a walk as this will burn off energy and calm your nerves.
When you get there, before the interview
Go to reception and introduce yourself. Once that’s done, go to the bathroom, even if you don’t need it. There are two very good reasons for this:
1. It’s always good to go, you don’t want it to distract you mid-interview.
2. Do your power pose - whether it’s in a cubicle or in front of the mirror, spend as long as you need to get in that pose, feel the confidence and let it surge through your body. The power will stay with you for the whole interview.
In the interview
Just be you (and do this too):
- Shake hands firmly.
- Sit naturally, don’t slouch or lean.
- Stay engaged, listen and retain eye contact.
- Be enthusiastic and ask questions.
- Get up and do your power pose every 10 minutes (not really, once beforehand is enough).
After the interview
Thank the interviewer and let them know that they can contact you anytime with additional questions.
Speak to a friend or family member about the interview, whether you felt it went well or not. It’s good to debrief, contextualise and share your feelings.
Gain insight and prepare for stage two
If you’re asked back for a second interview, make sure you get feedback from the recruiter on your first interview. Go over any weaknesses exposed, including questions that you felt you answered poorly. And do even more research - typically the second interview will be with someone higher-up in the business who has the final decision.
Follow these tips (used by actual successful candidates) and you’ll put yourself in the best position possible. And remember, as important as techniques are, self-belief and confidence are the greatest things you can bring to an interview. Prepare well and these two powerful feelings will be right with you in the room. Now go get a good night’s sleep, then go get that job.