I was sat on the sofa with Abby this weekend, trying to come up with an idea of a blog post I could write for Sunday (yes, I realise it’s now Monday, but I got distracted by Queer Eye…) and I thought it might be helpful to share with people how I like to prepare myself for Interviews. Be it for a weekend job, a full time job, graduate scheme, or a University interview, whatever the interview may be, I think these tips can be quite transferrable so hopefully you find these helpful if you have some interviews coming up!
So, in my last blog post I spoke about how I was throwing myself back into the job search, and luckily I got an telephone interview last week, and I had an in person interview today. I think it went well, but I won’t find out yet whether or not I’ve been successful, but i’m excited about it!
As a result, I spent a lot of my day today preparing for it, so here are some things I personally like to do when I know I have an interview coming up.
Know about the Company
It may seem obvious, but doing your research about the company you’ve applied for, really will help. Especially considering it may be one of the first questions you’re asked.
I usually just go onto their website, look for the “About” section, and make a few notes on any key points that stand out to me. It depends what you think is important, but as long as you can remember a few key points, I’ve found that’s usually enough. (If you’re applying for a graduate scheme, you may need to know more in depth, but it all depends on what job you’re applying for.)
Also, don’t get too hung up on this part. You’ll probably find when you’re in the interview, you may forget a lot of it, so theres no point trying to remember loads about the company- also remember it’s likely you’ll never know as much about the company than the person interviewing you, so keep it brief and to the point.
Look at the Job Description, and pick out Key Competencies.
If you can find it, try to find the job description and pick out the main things they are looking for in candidates. This will help you feel more relaxed hopefully, and will just familiarise yourself with the job role.
Key Competencies are the specific things that the employer will be looking for in interviews, so by familiarising yourself with what they are for your role, can help you to tailor your responses to make sure you are showing them exactly why you’re the best one for the job.
A few examples of key competencies are, teamwork, communication, problem solving, etc etc.
Prepare some STAR responses
You might be wondering what I’m blabbering on about, but I got taught this technique in a careers session when I was in Year 10 and it’s stuck with me ever since.
S ituation (the context, problem, or background info)
T ask (what you had to do)
A ction (what you did)
R esult of the action (how it went, what went well)
This is a good technique to remember when an interviewer asks you competency questions. (The ones like, tell me a time when….)
What I like to do, is I’ll just google “most common interview questions” (you can tailor this to your job, so most common interview questions for a retail job etc…) and just write down some STAR answers. Not essays and hundreds of words worth, but for me, I find if I have more time to think about a response, I can answer it more confidently, and I don’t have to sit in the chair desperately racking my brain for a good answer.
Same goes as well for general interview questions, like “tell me your biggest weakness” these don’t require a STAR response, but I still like to write down some ideas of what I’ll say if I get asked.
See if anyone online has done the interview before.
I don’t do this a lot now, but something I used to do a lot when applying for well known shops etc, was google “…. interview questions” and look on The Student Room.
Sometimes I found that someone had already done the interview, and had mentioned one tricky question that comes up. Obviously you’ll never know if they are right until you have the interview yourself, but this might help ease your nerves if you’re feeling particularly nervous.
Come up with a list of two questions you want to ask.
My Dad always said that it was a good idea to ask a question at the end of an interview, so I always like to prepare at least two questions. If one of them gets answered during the course of the Interview, don’t ask the question, use the backup.
If both get answered, don’t panic, you can just explain how you were going to ask … and … but they have already answered it for you. Or, ask another question if you managed to think of one on the spot.
Prepare in a small notebook.
I like to make preparation notes in a small notebook, so that whilst travelling to the Interview, or if I arrive stupidly early, to help calm my nerves I can quickly skim over everything one last time. Don’t get your notebook out mid interview though and read from it, just use it as a final step in your preparation!
I think I can over prepare for Interviews sometimes, but for me, that helps me to not get so nervous, as I know that whatever happens, I’ve tried to prepare myself as much as possible. The most intense Interview I’ve ever had was for a Graduate Scheme with Samsung, and I felt like I was preparing for an exam, I spent so much time preparing! I didn’t get the job, (there were 12 people interviewing for one internship) but I actually got really positive feedback from it, and I came away from the whole process feeling quite confident.
Another tip I’d say, is make sure you’ve planned an outfit to wear the night before- I always think it’s better to look too smart at an interview than too casual- and make sure you get there early, and plan how you’re getting there, which will hopefully make you feel less rushed and anxious the night before!
I hope these tips were useful, I’m obviously not an expert in interviews by any means, and I’ve had my fair share of rubbish ones. These are just a few things I like to do to make myself feel less nervous, and ready for them!
Good luck in any interviews you may have coming up, and if you have any questions, please do let me know!
Lots of love,