8.3 Before your interview
Here are some things to think about in the run-up to your interview:
- Research the job and employer thoroughly beforehand. If you can, find out something about the people interviewing you.
- Review your CV or reread your application form.
- Think about why you have been invited for interview? What are your unique selling points? Questions are likely to focus on:
- your achievements
- your motives for applying
- your likely contribution.
- Prepare by organising your material in advance.
- Collect as many concrete examples of things you’ve done that clearly demonstrate your skills, as you can. Read the tough questions in Section 8.8 and practise some answers out loud.
- Think about what skills may be important to perform well in the job.
- Think about times in the past when you have demonstrated the required abilities, e.g. successful projects; successful interactions with other people; convincing a difficult audience; analysing a large amount of information, etc. Don’t just think about job-related examples – you may have excellent evidence from your study, hobbies or other activities.
- What are your weak spots and what do you feel uncomfortable talking about?
- Why would you not employ yourself? Produce convincing counter-arguments.
- Practise your answers in the weak areas. Ask a careers adviser or a friend or colleague to help you. Do it out loud, record it and listen to it again.
- Plan travel and arrival times, and if possible do a dummy run.
- Decide what to wear. Show that you know the interview ‘rules’ by wearing smart clothes, polishing your shoes and so on. Conservative dress is more likely to pay off than flamboyance. Try the whole outfit some days before, so that if it doesn’t feel right you’ve got time to change your plans. Dress appropriately for the culture. If you’re very unsure about this, look at company literature or their website to get an idea of how people dress. If there’s no suitable literature, you could telephone and ask the person on the switchboard or the secretary of the person interviewing you.
- Prepare some questions that you would like to ask. Having questions prepared can show, for example, your interest and keenness to develop within the organisation, e.g. ‘How is performance and development assessed?’ or ‘How is the job likely to develop over the next two years?’