How to prepare for an interview

How to prepare for an interview

If you've been offered an interview, you're already over the most difficult hurdle. In today's job market, it's not uncommon to find that only 5% of applications for jobs result in an interview. However, the hard work is about to start. You'll need to make the most of the opportunity, and convince your prospective employers that you're the best possible candidate.

Prepare Beforehand
Find out as much information as you can about the company or organisation that is considering hiring you. Check their website, Facebook page, Twitter feeds and press releases, also checking trade news sites for any mentions. Find out as much as you can about their market – who they sell to (or receive funding from), and who uses their services or products. Almost all organisations have two types of customers; you will need to get an understanding of both. Make a note of any questions that you need to ask at the interview stage.

Plan Your Route
Check how long it will take you to make the journey, and if necessary do a dry run. Allow yourself plenty of time on the day.

Dress for Success
Your interview outfit will depend on the type of company you're seeing. A company looking for a quirky, creative type will have different requirements to a company seeking an ultra-conservative executive. Study photos on Facebook and the company's website for pointers. If in doubt, be cautious and wear a suit.

Practice Your Technique
Interviews can be daunting if you're not used to them. Ask your family and friends to give you 'dummy interviews' for practice, and get used to answering questions. If there are any gaps or omissions in your CV, be prepared for the interviewer to pick up on them. Decide in advance how you'll answer any awkward questions to present yourself in the best light. If you're well-prepared in advance, it'll be harder for the interviewer to put you on the spot, and you'll feel more confident. If you can video your dummy interviews, you will learn an awful lot from watching yourself in an interview situation.

On the Day
Arrive in plenty of time – 10 to 15 minutes early is ample, and won't give you too much time to feel nervous. Give your name to the receptionist, along with the name of the person you're meeting. Take your notes and a copy of your CV, and have a final check through whilst you're waiting. Breathe deeply and evenly to combat nerves.

During the Interview
Answer questions as clearly and fully as you can. Present yourself in a good light, but be honest about your achievements. Asking one or two questions about the company shows that you've done your homework, but don't 'grill' the interviewer.

Check what's going to happen next. There may be another round of interviews, or they may make a decision straightaway. Remember to thank the interviewer for their time as you leave.

We are proud to host this guest post from Susanna Cha on behalf of Guardian Jobs

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