Advice · Career

How to Prepare for an Interview

Photo by me.

If you follow me on Twitter you would have seen that I had nothing but interviews last week (eight to be exact…eek). Facing rejection became second nature to me, and for a moment I wondered if I was actually doing the right thing; but after getting shortlisted for one job and having a trial day in another, I started to have faith in myself and believe that I must indeed be doing something right.

I should probably tell you a bit about why I was job hunting. I’ve always wanted to get into the TV industry, and after graduating in July, I began to seriously think about this dream and started researching about the ways to get in. I’ve been quite fortunate, as a lot of people spend months and in some cases even years in trying to get their foot in the door, and I’ve only been job hunting for two months and already found one.

So, I’ve come up with a few tips for you guys to help you in your way to your dream job and excel in those daunting interviews.

  1. Do your research

Knowledge is power.

This is by far one of the most important things you have to do. Research the company. What do they do? What projects are they doing at the moment? What do they tweet about? Who are their audience? What is their mission in the industry? These are just a few of the questions you have to answer in order to find out more about the company you’re applying for.

Tip: Familiarise yourself with their website and their About page.

Research the role. This is also super important, because you don’t want to be sitting in an interview not knowing what you’re applying for. Jot down what you found appealing about the role and why you’re applying for it. Make sure you find out about the role in detail from both the advert and from their website. If you have any questions about the role which you are unsure of, find out what similar companies say about the role and see if they have any information that could be useful.

Research the interviewer. Check out their LinkedIn page and their Twitter. What position do they have in the company? What do they do? If they’re been involved in something that intrigues you, tell them that on the day. Flattery is sometimes a good thing.

    2.  Prepare for the interview

Preparation is the key to success.

Write down some common interview questions relative to the role and prepare an answer to them. For example:

  • Tell me a bit about yourself.
  • What are your strengths and weaknesses?
  • Why do you want to work for us?
  • Where do you see yourself in 5 years?

In the Graduate Job Podcast’s first episode, they talk about an approach called the Spotlight process which I found very useful, as it talks about actually writing down the answers to the questions in the way that you speak (not worrying about being grammatically correct or punctuation) because this enables you to deliver the answers more naturally. By rehearsing this method and then reading it aloud, you’re internalising the information into your brain and into your subconscious. So, when the question itself does come up, you’ll have a natural way of answering it and thus coming across more confident as you won’t be um-ing and ah-ing your way to an answer. I recommend you listen to this podcast because it gives some really good tips on how to prepare for job interviews; you can listen to the podcast here.

Prepare some questions you’d like to ask. I made the mistake on my first interview of not doing this one, and later regretted it because of how important it is to do so. The interviewer doesn’t just want to hear why you’ll be good for the job, they also want to see how interested you are in the company. Ask about what it’s like to work at the company? What’s the office environment like? What have past employees gone on to do? Do they offer training schemes? Etc.

3.  Review your CV

Does anything need updating? Is everything spelt correctly?

4.  Plan your travel

Make sure you look at the street view option when planning your travel. Try to have as much information as possible on how to get there.

Have a plan B; you never know what disruptions could occur on the day that could affect your travel, so make sure you have another way of getting there.

Always arrive early. Get there about 10 minutes early, as this gives you some time to take in the place and to relax.

Dress the part. In my case, because it was an entry-level position into the TV industry I didn’t need to go in a suit as it’s a more practical job. Trainers, in my case, were fine. However, always be sure of how your role requires you to dress. You don’t want to be overdressed and look as though you own the place when you don’t.

5.  Stay calm 

You are in control.

This one was the hardest to do in all my interviews as I just get extremely nervous. In the first couple of interviews I made mistakes because I allowed my nerves to take over and ruin the situation. However, I took those first two interviews as experience and tried to better myself on the next ones. Even though I was still nervous, I sort of got the hang of them and knew the answers to the questions well to deliver them without messing up and this helped in calming me down. Another thing that helped, was the little pep talk I gave myself before going inside the building. Telling myself to stop being a chicken and to just do it, actually helped!

Another podcast that I listened to and which helped was the first episode of The Lavendaire Lifestyle podcast: be stronger than your fears, bolder than your insecurities. This talked about just that, how to be stronger than your fears by making sure not to allow fear take control and how to overcome your insecurities. One point she made which really put things into perspective was of seeing a situation as though you’re driving a car; fear is the little kid in the backseat kicking and screaming during the entire journey wanting your attention. The trick to this is to never let the little kid drive the car; you need to keep telling yourself that it is you in control and that fear will eventually get tired and stop.

You can listen to the full podcast here.

6. Smile and have eye contact

A smile reassures confidence.

By smiling you are engaging in the conversation, and by looking at the interviewer in the eye you are showing confidence. Always try to come across likeable and interested. Show interest throughout and don’t ever yawn.

 

And there we have it! I hope you enjoyed my top tips on how to prepare for an interview and found the podcasts useful. I’d love to know what you guys do to prepare for a job interview, and if you have any other useful podcasts or sites that could help!

Laila xo

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