How To Prepare For An Interview - Custom Scholars

How To Prepare For An Interview

An upcoming interview is a great opportunity to explore a new career path and get to know the company you are interested in working for. Despite the type of interview you will be participating in, it is important to prepare carefully. Good preparation will help you feel confident in your qualifications, what you contribute to the company, and how you express yourself. In this blog post, we have discussed a lot about interviews and how to prepare for an interview. Make sure you read this to the end.

Types Of Interviews

There are different types of job interviews. In some cases, you only need to succeed in one to get the job. In other cases especially at large graduate employers, you may face several interview formats throughout the application process. The following are the main types of job interviews.

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  • Face-to-face. This is the traditional and still the most common form of an interview. In this case, you attend the interview in the employer’s office where you will be asked about your suitability for the job by an individual or a panel. Most face-to-face interviews last between 45 minutes and 2 hours. This may be preceded or followed by tests and exercises. The questions asked may be strength-based or competency-based.
  • Telephone. This is usually used by employers early in the application process to filter large numbers of applicants. In case you are successful at this stage, you will be invited to a face-to-face interview or assessment center. In most cases, a telephone interview will last around 30 minutes to an hour.
  • Video interviews. This is increasingly popular among large employers and is usually preferred for application to graduate schemes. Video interviews can be live or pre-recorded and usually last around 30 minutes. This has increased due to the COVID-19 pandemic which lead to the majority of things being done online.
  • Assessment centers. This type of interview allows employers to compare the performance of different candidates at the same time. In this case, you attend an assessment center with other applicants and take part in tasks such as presentations, team exercises, and psychometric tests. Most assessment centers usually last a full working day and have recently been adapted to be held online.

Interview Research

In most cases, your performance in an interview will depend highly on how well you prepare before the day of the interview. Don’t leave the interview preparation to the last minute as this might cost you a lot. You should focus your research on the following in the days leading up to the interview.

  • Employer. To the employer, you have to show that you understand the business beyond the basics. Ask yourself questions like:
  • What sector does the business operate in?
  • Who are its competitors?
  • What major projects have the business completed recently?
  • What are the culture and the values of the business?

If you have all the above information, it demonstrates a genuine interest.

  • Role. Read the job description again and if you have completed an application form, go through it to refresh your memory on how the skills and qualifications match the requirements of the job. It is important that you explain why you need the job and more importantly why the employer should choose you over other candidates with similar qualifications.
  • Interview panel. If it is possible, try to find out who will be interviewing you. This information might be included in the email inviting you to the interview. You can check on LinkedIn or in the “About us” page of the company’s website to learn more about the company’s professional interests and experience. This can help you connect with the interviewers and create a positive impression during the interview.
  • Questions. Consider how you will answer common interview questions and also prepare some of the questions you would want the interviewer to answer. In this blog post, we have discussed some of the commonly asked questions in interviews.
  • Venue. You should be sure about when and where the interview will take place. Plan your journey, and check the timetables for any public transport you need to take on that day when going for the interview.

Perform Research On The Company And The Role

Most organizations want to hire people with similar values to those of the company culture. When you research the company before an interview you get an insight into the organization’s future goals and plans. If you can discuss these points, you will look like a long-term investment to your future employer. The following tips will guide you on the aspects of the company that you should research.

  • Company financials. Doing a Google search will help uncover the current state of the company. Have they gone through a merger? Have they expanded recently? You can get this information from LinkedIn or the company’s website.
  • Executive team. You can check on the company’s website to understand more about the company’s hierarchy and find out who the executives of the company are.
  • Find out the company’s main competitors. After this, go through the websites of other organizations in the industry.

What To Take

When going for an interview, you can carry the following:

  • Pen and notebook.
  • Your CV and interview invitation.
  • Your academic certificates and work examples if requested.
  • Photo ID.
  • Breathe mints or gum.
  • A bottle of water.
  • Money for transport and food.

In addition, you might need the following for online interviews.

  • Laptop/computer.
  • Headset/earphones.
  • Microphone
  • Log in for the software you need to use.

What To Wear To An Interview      

Although most employers expect candidates to dress smartly, some of them encourage casual wear at work. This makes choosing an interview outfit trickier. What you are expected to wear depends on certain factors such as the size of the company, the industry it operates in, and the culture it promotes. For instance, a small creative agency may have different standards as compared to a major accountancy firm.

In case you are not sure about the dress code, you can ask before the day of the interview. In any case, just remember it is better to be too smart than to be too casual. Do not opt for a casual outfit unless you are sure it is acceptable. In case of any doubt, go for smart business attire. Always make sure that your clothes are clean and ironed and your shoes are clean.

For a telephone or online interview, ensure you dress as though the interview is in person. Sitting in your tracksuit trying to act professionally might not go so well.

Job Interview Tips, Does and Don’ts

Job Interview Tips, Does and Don’ts

Do Don’t
·         Dress to impress. Ensure the clothes you wear are clean, ironed, and presentable.

·         Make eye contact and begin with a strong handshake. This will show that you are confident when you are meeting the interviewer for the first time.

·         Sit still with your feet firmly on the ground. This will help you maintain an upright posture to avoid fidgeting.

·         Remember your CV details. Remember the experience that is most relevant for the role you are being interviewed for.

·         Make a note of your questions. You carry a notepad to the interview if you think you might forget important points.

·         Remember. It is important to impress your next potential employer.

·         Prepare concise stories that demonstrate your ability to do the job.

·         Rehearse the first 30 seconds of the interview as they matter the most.

·         Find out as much as possible about the qualifications of the job ahead of time.

·         Turn up late to the interview. If you realize that arriving for the interview on time is not possible, call ahead to inform the interviewer of your expected time of arrival.

·         Dress inappropriately or sloppily. In case you are not sure how to dress for the interview, we have explained it in this blog post.

·         Smoke before your interview. Although a quick cigarette might seem like a good idea to calm your nerves, the smell will be noticeable and unpleasant to the interviewer.

·         Volunteer your weakness. Even though honesty is always the best policy, you should not talk about your weaknesses unless you are asked directly.

·         Criticize your current or previous employer. Doing this will create an impression in the mind of the interviewer that you are difficult to work with.

·         Panic if the interview is not going well. Focus on giving the best answer to the current question.

·         Try to anticipate exactly how the interview will go. Be prepared to adapt to what’s happening in the room.

·         Answer a tough question all at once. Reserve details for follow-up questions.


Practice Interview Etiquette

interview etiquette

Interview etiquette is very important. Always remember to greet the receptionist, your interviewer, and everyone else you meet politely, pleasantly, and enthusiastically. Observe the following during the interview:

  • Watch your body language.
  • Shake hands firmly.
  • Make eye contact whenever you are talking to someone or when someone is talking to you.
  • Pay attention.
  • Be attentive.
  • Look interested.

This is something you can work on in your practice interviews. There are also specific etiquette tips depending on the type of interview you have. For example a lunch or dinner interview, panel interviews, phone interviews, or video interviews. Please note that the more positive an impression you make, the better you will do during the interview.

Practice Job Interviews

It is advisable to at least do one mock interview before the real interview. Take time and practice answering questions that might be asked during the interview. You can write and practice answers to common interview questions with someone you trust. You can even record yourself and then review your performance.

This will help calm your nerves as you won’t be scrambling for an answer while in the interview hot seat. You can try to conduct the practice interview in the same format as the real interview. For instance, if it is a phone interview, you can ask a friend to call you to practice answering questions over the phone. For a panel interview, you can request a couple of friends to pretend to be a panel.

In case you are being interviewed virtually, ensure you are comfortable with the technology, review common job interview questions and answers, and plan on how you will answer the questions in case they are asked to be ready.

You can also test your telephone connection and ensure your laptop, microphone, and any other technical equipment you need for the interview is working and you know how to use them.

Interview Questions You Should Be Prepared On

Job interviews can always be nerve-wracking no matter how many interviews you go to. Imagine putting on your best clothes, getting your resume in order, and reminding yourself to smile and just when you think everything is going well, the interviewer hits you with a curveball question that you are not ready to answer.

Fortunately, you won’t let that happen again as you are going to plan for the interview ahead of time. For the best preparation, do your research ahead of time. In case you are preparing for a big interview, the following questions will help you get one step closer to your dream job.

typical interview inquiries

  1. Tell me about yourself

Most interviews start with this question and how you answer it can help you make a good first impression in the mind of the interviewer. If you stumble over the answer and are not sure what to say, this may show a lack of self-confidence. If you start listing all your greatest accomplishments and talk too much, it may indicate a little too big ego. Try and find a balance between being confident and not pretentious.

The best way to prepare for this question is to prepare an elevator pitch about who you are. In this part, skip your personal history and give about 2 or 3 sentences about your career path and how you got to the interview or applying for the job.

When answering this question, you do not have to be too detailed as there are many other questions on the way. Just say enough to leave curiosity so the interviewer becomes excited to learn more about you throughout the interview.

  1. Why do you want to work for this company?

When the interviewer asks this question, they do not only want to know why you want to work for them but they also want to know what you know about the company. This question is used to test how well you know what the company does and how passionate you are about what the company does. Ensure you have done enough research about the company and can speak truthfully about your desire to work in the company.

  1. How did you hear about this job?

This question gives you the opportunity to go into more detail about why you love the company and what motivates you to work there. Thus, you should avoid saying that you heard about the job on a website. In case you have a personal connection at the company, you can mention them when answering this question.

  1. Tell me about something on your resume

Everyone has something on their resume that they are proud of whether it is a skill, an achievement, or a place they have worked. When answering this question, ensure you choose the most interesting thing on your resume that you are proud of. Don’t talk about something that is relevant to your most recent position as you will be asked about that.  Instead of this, you can think about one of the other older positions listed on your resume and explain how the experience helped you grow into the person you are career-wise.

  1. Why are you looking for a job? Or why are you looking for a different job?

Although this question might seem innocuous, it is one of the ways used by interviewers to weed out people who are a) just looking for a job, b) were fired from their previous job, or c) might have a high turnover rate, meaning they won’t be sticking around for too long. When asked this question, focus on the positive and be specific. The following will guide you on how to answer this question.

  • Did you just graduate and this is going to be your first real job?
  • Are you switching career paths?
  • Are you leaving your current job for this one?

In case you are working somewhere else, you should be ready to answer “why do you want to leave your current job for this one?”

  1. Why should we hire you?

When the recruiter asks this question, they expect to hear the skills that you possess and what you will contribute to the growth of the company. Don’t give a vague answer like “I am friendly and a hard worker. Be specific by summarizing your work history, and achievements, and use specific examples where possible.

State your years of experience and name some of the accomplishments you have made at your last company. The more specific you are about your skills and how important you can be the company, the easier it will be for the interviewer to picture you working there.

  1. Where do you see yourself in five years?

This can be a very hard question when asked in an interview especially if you had not prepared for it. When asked this question, always remember that you are in an interview setting and thus you do not have to go deep into the details about your personal life goals for the next five years. Always focus on your career goals and be realistic.

The interviewer asks this question to find out if you have set realistic goals if you are ambitious, and confirm that the position you are being interviewed for aligns with these goals and growth. In case the position is not a job with a lot of future opportunities, you can answer this question by stating that you are not sure about what your future will look like. But don’t forget to state that you believe the position will help you navigate yourself in the right direction.

  1. Tell me about a conflict you faced at work and how you dealt with it.

This question is important during the interview as it shows the employer how you can deal with conflict in the workplace. It also helps test how well you think on your feet. On this, make sure you prepare ahead of time with a specific example to avoid an awkward moment of silence when you are trying to think of an example.

Once you have an example in mind, explain what happened and how you resolved the issue in a professional manner. End the story with a happy note on how you reached a resolution or compromise with your co-worker.

  1. What is your dream job?

Just like in “where do you see yourself in five years” in this question, the interviewer wants to understand how realistic you are when setting goals, how ambitious you are, and whether or not the job and the company will be a good place for you to grow.

When answering this question, always try as much as possible to set aside your personal goals and focus on your career goals. Avoid saying something like your dream job is to take Instagram photos. Show how this job is going to set you up for the future and get you closer to your dream job but don’t be that person who says they want to be the SEO of the company.

  1. What do you expect out of your team/co-workers?

The interviewer uses this question to understand how you work on a team and whether you will be the right cultural fit for the company. To have the best answer to this question do your research on the company before the day of the interview. You can take this opportunity to talk about the company’s culture by looking through their social media profiles or by reading their reviews.

  1. What do you expect from your manager?

By asking this question, the manager wants to know the type of employee you will be and whether you can be a good fit to add to their team. This question might be asked by your future manager. Answer this question as honestly as possible and give examples from your current or previous manager if you can show how they helped you positively to work better.

  1. How do you deal with stress?

The answer to this question can help the manager identify any potential red flags you might have. In this case, you want to show that you can handle stress in a professional and positive manner that ensures you continue working and nothing will stop you from accomplishing your goals. Be specific and explain how you deal with stress.

  1. What would the first 30 days in this position look like for you?

Answering this question will signal whether you are the right person for the job as the interviewer wants to understand what you will get done in your first month or the first three months in the position. Start by mentioning the information you need to get started and what would assist you to transition into the new role smoothly. Focus on your best skills and indicate how you would use the skills in this position right away.

  1. What are your salary requirements?

Some interviewers will ask this question while other won’t but it is always good to be prepared because you want to be paid a good salary for the value you will add to the company. Although employers can ask about your salary expectation always remember that in certain places, it is illegal for them to ask about your previous salary.

  1. Do you have any questions?

This is usually the last question asked in an interview. The interviewer wants to know whether you have a question for them or not. Thus, you should ensure you have prepared your questions but always try to avoid asking questions that have already been answered.

When preparing for the interview, keep a list of at least three to five questions in the back of your mind or you can write them down on a note book. You can also come up with questions during the interview if there is something you did not understand. Most recruiters have stated that they enjoy answering questions at the end of an interview and that’s why you should not fear asking a question.

What To Do After The Interview

At the end of the job interview, ensure you find out when you will be informed about the outcome and thank the interviewer for giving you the chance to attend. Make some notes on the questions that were asked while the interview is still fresh in your memory. These questions will help you for other interviews in the future. The three potential outcomes of an interview are:

  • Success. In case you are offered the job ensure it is the right one for you by discussing it with friends and family. After this, double-check details such as salary before deciding whether to accept it or not.
  • Rejection. In case you are rejected, don’t be too downhearted as graduate employers get large numbers of applications for every role. Even if you are rejected for a role, email the company and thank them for the opportunity. You can also request feedback from your interviews so that you can improve your performance next time.
  • Further steps. Interviews are usually the final step in the job application process. In case the employer has not made a decision on whether to give you the job or not, you might be asked back for a second interview.

Once you are done with the interview, there is an endless wait that awaits you. This wait can be daunting and frustrating. To shorten the wait, you can try to ensure the employer does not forget you in the mayhem and competition. You can start with a gratitude message after the interview and follow it up with continued regular follow-up with the human resource department.

Ways To Make A Good Impression

  1. Arriving late at a job interview will increase your stress levels and give the employer a bad first impression. Just do your best to arrive on time for the interview.
  2. Positivity and enthusiasm. Always be polite and professional with any staff you meet before or after the interview. In case you are feeling nervous, remind yourself that the worst that can happen is not getting the job. During the interview, respond to questions with positive statements, and be enthusiastic about the job.
  3. Body language. Give the interviewer a firm handshake before and after the interview session. Once you are seated, sit naturally without slouching in your chair or leaning on the desk. Remember to smile regularly and maintain eye contact throughout the interview.
  4. Clarity. Answer all questions asked clearly and concisely, showing your most relevant skills, experiences, and achievements. You can pause before answering a difficult question to think about the question or ask for clarification if you are not sure what the question means. When answering a question, avoid speaking very quickly.

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