Your CV has got you your interview. Now your success in the interview is all up to you. Preparation is the key for a successful interview.
Research the company's history
This is one of the easiest things to do and yet one of the most overlooked. It is so important to research the company's history and be able to talk about the company at interview. It also helps you prepare stock answers as you can tailor some of your experience to what the company needs and discuss it at interview.
Every company has a website – go on it, familiarise yourself with the company history, culture, organisation chart if it's on it, events that they attend, awards they have won. This shows a clear interest in the interviewers' organisation and will stand you in good stead. If you don't get enough information from the website, look up the company through newspapers, any specialist publications etc.
Find out if you know of anyone who is working there or has worked there in the past. They can prove a valuable source of insider information and can give you the edge. They can also give you details of what the company culture is like.
Research the role
It is incredibly important that you understand the role that you are applying for. If you turn up for an interview and have little understanding of the role you're interviewing for, it will not go down well. Nor will you be considered for any other role within that company. Go through the job specification thoroughly before you attend the interview. If going through a recruitment consultancy, the consultant should brief you fully on the role before you go in.
Find out if anyone you know either works in the company and can give you a heads up on any aspects of the role you may not have considered or talk to people who are working in similar jobs in other companies. They may be able to give you pointers that will prove invaluable during the interview.
Find out at the very least who the people are who will be interviewing you. It is more of a courtesy matter but at least you will be sure of their job functions and what their connection to the actual job you are applying for is – it may be that the HR manager is interviewing you or your line manager, it could be the Finance Director. You need to know who it is as this will be beneficial in helping you prepare sample answers. Again if you are going through a recruitment consultancy, they will be able to fully brief you on the people, their job titles and their interviewing manner.
Prepare sample questions
Practicing sample interview questions will give you an advantage in that you will become more familiar with your own skills and experience. Hearing questions that you are familiar with, will also boost your confidence levels during the interview. You will come across as confident and articulate. Prepare sample answers and quantifiable information.
Go through past achievements and qualifications. This will at least enable the interviewer to measure your past successes against their needs. Most interviews are competency based which means that employers are looking for quantifiable information.
Find out exact location
Nothing screams disorganised like not knowing where you are going. If you are unsure, phone the company beforehand and get precise directions. There are plenty of stories about people turning up to other locations of the company when the interview is in head office across town. We even suggest that you do a practice run beforehand particularly if you are depending on public transport.
Even though they already have your CV, ensure that you bring another copy of all documentation, particularly if there is more than one interviewer as they may not have prepared a copy.