Standing out from the crowd in a job interview and presenting yourself in the best possible light is important in the best of times.
When we consider the added pressures of a flailing job market and the uncertainty of recent times, walking into your next interview with confidence and performing at the top of your game is critical.
In 2019, the average candidate faced a gruelling nine-stage interview process to prove they were the #1 fit for the role. While the interview process is a cause for anxiety and overwhelming pressure for many, following a few fundamental principles can help you prepare for the big day with a clear head and a confident approach.
Join us as we explore key interview skills and techniques to help you land the opportunities you deserve.
Why Is Interview Preparation So Important?
In its simplest form, interviews are the gateway to landing a job and achieving financial security. Whether you’re climbing the ranks in a competitive industry or searching for a new career direction, knowing how to conquer the interview stage can open doors to a world of opportunities.
With 93% of candidates feeling anxious about the interview process, taking time to address any concerns or apprehensions is important to help you put your best foot forward.
The first thing to remember is if you’ve made it to the interview stage, your prospective employer clearly sees something in you. On average, only one in five applicants are selected for interview. Instead of viewing the interview as an interrogation, try to make the mental shift of viewing it as an exciting opportunity to demonstrate your abilities in a face-to-face setting.
4 Principles Behind Good Interview Preparation
As the old saying goes: “Failing to prepare is preparing to fail.”
While the prospect of a job interview might fill you with dread, we’ve identified four fundamental principles to help prepare mentally and emotionally for whatever challenges come your way.
There’s no time like the present when it comes to interview preparation — it’s never too early to get ahead of the game, hone your approach and build confidence. Here’s our interview preparation checklist to help you conquer any fears about the interview process and paint yourself in the best possible light.
1.Never Stop Learning
One of the most important attributes any employer will look for is a hunger to learn. While you’re not expected to walk into an interview with all the answers, showing a desire to learn and demonstrating a deep interest in relevant topics will stand you in good stead.
Crucially, it’s important to understand the intricacies and nuances of the company you’re applying for. Conducting a digital audit of your prospective employer will equip you with a treasure chest of talking-points to show your enthusiasm and passion for a subject.
While many candidates think employer research is a simple case of flicking through the company website, a digital audit helps you understand an organisation inside-out by stripping it back to its core and identifying the fundamental building blocks. An in-depth understanding will help you identify interesting observations and unique focal points that separate you from other applicants.
2.Create an IIQ Framework (Insights, Ideas & Questions)
Interview preparation can be particularly overwhelming when you’re applying for multiple roles. Instead of trying to cram your mind with absolutely everything you can remember about each company, a simple solution is to create an IIQ framework to structure your thoughts.
Whenever you’re researching an organisation, draw a table with three columns:
- Insights. What do you notice about the company? Whether it’s observing their target audience or analysing the usability of their customer service tools, the first step is to paint a picture of what the company looks like today.
- Ideas. What steps could the company take to improve the existing situation? Employers want to attract born problem-solvers who aren’t afraid to think outside the box to take positive steps forward.
- Questions. Ask the employer why they do things the way they do and what they’re hoping to achieve. Demonstrating a natural curiosity shows not only your desire to learn but also a tendency to question the status quo.
The IIQ framework is a simple yet effective way to channel your thoughts and help you approach high-pressure interviews with a clear idea of what to say in a range of different circumstances.
3.Structure Your Professional Experience
Experience sits at the heart of almost all job applications. While soft skills and your personal attitude remain crucial, nothing quite compares to the value of hands-on experience from past jobs and interests.
Whether it’s demonstrating your familiarity with a piece of software or showcasing leadership skills from a previous role, employers want to understand how your past experience will translate into the open position.
Much like a CV, be sure to enter your interview with a clear idea of what you’ve done in the past, how this has helped your professional development and why you think your skill set would be of value to the interviewer. Start by grouping your experience into categories and think about how you could draw upon specific achievements or challenges to answer potential questions.
Remember to think creatively and don’t be afraid to use examples that aren’t directly linked to the role you’re applying to. The key is to extract the key lessons from each experience and demonstrate how you can build upon these skills to execute the role with confidence and competence.
4.Identify Frequently Asked Questions
The most practical step you can take ahead of an interview is to create a list of questions that you might need to answer.
While every interview is unique and different employers will use different questions, there are a handful of frequently asked questions that are designed to reveal your personal characteristics.
Whether it’s answering the interview question ‘what makes you unique’ or ‘what do you consider your biggest weakness?’, preparing yourself for these relatively unusual and thought-provoking questions will avoid any awkward silences or ambiguous answers. Make a list of common interview questions that could throw you off guard and practice answering them in front of the mirror or with a friend.
Preparation is Everything
Interviews don’t need to be intimidating or overwhelming if you take the time to prepare and gather your thoughts in advance. Next time you’re experiencing interview anxiety, remind yourself of these fundamental principles to help you take practical steps and boost confidence ahead of the big day.
Remember, interviews aren’t necessarily designed to catch you out — think of it as an opportunity to shine and demonstrate why you would be the best fit for the role.