How interviews work varies enormously from one company to another. Preparation is essential; you need to be ready for anything – and there’s no such thing as too much preparation.
Be ready and on your toes. Just before the interview, your CV, application forms and covering letter will have been examined and discussed. You will need to be familiar with everything you’ve written, so keep your experience real and be prepared to expand on any claims you’ve made. No one will be trying to wrong-foot you, but they will expect you to confidently know the detail. Employers will be seeking reassurance that you’re right for the role – so it’s on you to research the role before the interview, and ask questions during the interview, so you’re sure what they’re looking for. (The company’s website and social media feeds are great places to do this.) Interviews are increasingly competency based (looking for evidence of competencies by asking for situational examples of specific tasks and results) so be ready for this approach.
You should ask questions too. It will be expected that you ask questions, and welcomed that those questions show real interest in the company, its plans – and how your role can help with those. Prepare your questions, but memorise them – don’t pull out a list. It’s up to you to work out if this company is right for you. Good questions to ask are:
- What are the company’s future plans?
- How does the company invest in training and development?
- What are your career opportunities to be, both in the short and long term?
- What are the most important aspects of the company’s culture?
Be ready for tough questions. Your interviewer is not an interrogator, but the questions can be firm. Be ready, positive and friendly with your replies. Typical questions include:
- Why do you want this job?
- What do you know about the company?
- What are your strengths and weaknesses?
- Why are you looking to move jobs?
- What do you want from a new role?
- What have been your greatest achievements?
- What are your aspirations for the future?
- What can you offer the company?
Always remain positive. No one wants to hire someone who is uncertain or negative. Don’t be negative about current or past employers.
Finally, always ask what the follow-up process is and when you can expect to hear from the company. Proactivity is respected.