Preparing for an Interview

Ever since the ripe age of 14, I have been in some form of employment.

Whether that was ad hoc waitressing, babysitting or even just making my own money selling lighters at a very healthy margin at school, I’ve always worked hard to earn money.

The first proper job I had, I was 16, working in retail, and since have held numerous jobs.

I have always been lucky enough to have a job but, at the same time, if I am no longer feeling fulfilled or challenged within a role, I leave.

I am the ultimate, self-confessed job hopper, and proud of it!

So, although I’m still young, I have experienced the process of searching, preparing and attending many different interviews, with some being great and some not so wonderful.

I have been able to chat and pick the brains of lots of hiring managers to gain an insight into their decision-making process when hiring employees.

I have also had the experience of interviewing interns and mentoring new starters.

This wealth of knowledge and experience has helped me understand the process from both sides.

I have compiled a long list based on these discussions and my own knowledge and lessons learnt.

From what to wear, to how to act – this blog post will cover almost everything you need to prepare for that interview.

Ranging from casual conversations and phone interviews, to super-duper stressful 3 hour group & panel interviews, I’ve experienced it all.

I know exactly what it’s like to be in the hot seat for an interview, with nerves sky high.

So here’s my advice on how to prepare for an interview and land the job of your dreams.

Knowledge is Power.

Before any interview I highly recommend researching the company or brand you are going to work for.

Try to find out everything, from how they started, to where they are now and their goals for the future.

Look at their website, LinkedIn, all other social media sites and Google them.

Read any relevant articles that involve the company or topics and events that could impact the company in the future.

If the job is Retail for example, try to explore anything that has changed buying habits e.g. e-commerce.

Find and remember some statistics or offer an opinion on current trends.

If you are lucky enough to know who the interviewer will be – research them too. Find something in common to use to your advantage.

SWOT up.

Do a SWOT analysis. Examine the Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats of the business or company you are applying for.

Weigh up the pros and cons of the product or service they are offering, using, sat, Google reviews and your insight.

Think of creative ways the company or service could improve on, extra products or services they could implement or perhaps something topical like Brexit, which could lead to new opportunities to develop products, services or new markets to target.

Finally, what is happening now and in the future which could be a threat or undermine the company or brand? Technological advances is often cited.

This knowledge can also come in handy right at the end of the interview.

Any questions? You can wow them with your insight, and ask a few questions in relation to your SWOT analysis.

This will impress them. Otherwise, it’s deemed lazy and not showing initiative to not have any questions prepared when asked.

Relax & Make Them Laugh.

No matter how impressive your answers are, if they like YOU they will hire you.

Easier said than done.

I know, I’ve been there, but relax, have fun and be yourself. Smile. Look on the bright side of every situation.

So what if you don’t get the job, you’ll get another. My mantra is to Trust the Universe.

You may not realise it now but there is a reason things happen, and if you are rejected from a job, don’t be afraid to ask for feedback and learn from it.

Fake It Till You Make It.

You may be a nervous wreck but don’t let on.

Practise walking confidently, head up, smiling and thinking positive thoughts.

Believe in yourself, and you are halfway there, as the saying goes. Have a firm handshake and maintain good eye contact.

Location Location Location.

Where’s the interview? Make sure you allow more than enough time to get to the interview.

Google Maps the interview location and note in advance if you require parking permits, or if travelling on public transport, to always have a back-up plan.

Arrive early and go to a nearby coffee shop to calm down and compose yourself.

Go over your notes relating to the company and industry in general.

Nothing is worse than feeling frazzled, or worse, late for an interview.

But if, for reasons beyond your control you are late, tell them in advance. Try to be on time, not too early as this is also deemed rude.

Dress to Impress.

These hiring managers are like most humans.

Many will judge you the minute, the second you walk in.

Sounds cliché but first impressions really do count, especially in this competitive workforce.

So dress to impress and dress well. Regardless of your bank balance, wear clothes that fit you and make you feel fabulous as this will seriously impact your confidence levels.

For me, this a tailored classic blazer – I feel I can conquer the world.

Also, hands and feet are important. Beautifully manicured hands and good shoes are paramount in my opinion.

Scruffy shoes & chipped nail varnish?

It matters. If you are not sure what to wear, ask.

Sell Me This Pen.

No matter how prepared you are, some hiring managers want to test you under pressure.

Once, I had 10 minutes to prepare a 5 minute presentation, then present it right there and then to everyone in the group interview.

Don’t panic though.

They want you to think on the spot and see how you cope with stress.

Think in advance about your favourite subject or something you feel passionate about.

Often in Sales or Retail jobs you’ll be asked to sell them something – so practise.

If you fail to prepare, you prepare to fail.

Good luck in your job hunt,
Love Career Girl xo