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The Zachary Daniels Interview Preparation Guide

Every day, our recruiters are helping candidates at all levels prepare for the big interview. Which makes them the ideal people to ask for some advice on interview preparation. Here’s are 15 of their top tips.

1. Research the company

The company website and its social media accounts are the obvious starting points, but that only gives you the ‘official’ line. Look at examples of where the company has been in the news recently and check out staff reviews. Not only can that build a more rounded understanding of the business, it can help bring detail to any ‘why do you want to work here’-type questions.

2. Revisit the job ad

One of the reasons you’ve reached interview stage is because you gave the employer they information they wanted at application stage. So it makes sense to revisit the ad again to refresh yourself on the role and the key competences, skills and experience the business wants you to bring.

3. Double check the interview format

There’s nothing worse than being derailed by the unexpected. So double check the interview format—online, in person, one interview before a panel, several interviews before individuals—so you can prepare yourself accordingly.

4. Virtual/remote interview?

Lots of things to prep here, from double checking your internet connection to making sure that no wacky Zoom filter is going to drag attention from what you’re saying.

Read our advice about preparing online interviews.

5. Research your interviewers

Time to take a look at the people who’ll be sitting across the table from you. LinkedIn is the natural starting point for this. Dig a little deeper than their profile to look at any opinion pieces they’ve written. It’s great to be able to casually (and subtly) start your answer to a question by making it clear you’ve done your research: “Actually I really liked your take on this in your blog past about XXX. I believe that…”

Don’t dig too deep though. Referencing a speech they gave at a conference would be amazing. Telling them you’ve been scouring their Instagram holiday snaps and that you know where they live would be less good.

Also, if you don’t know who your interviewers will be, just ask.

6. Know your application form

You’ll have tailored your application form to each of the roles you’ve applied for. Now’s the time to revisit what you said in this particular application. Your interviewers will definitely dig a little deeper into some of the information you’ve offered, so it’s vital you know in detail what you said and can talk confidently around it.

7. Print what needs printing

Do you need to take along copies of your CV? Does your application reference a highly relevant report you’ve written? Make sure you print off copies in advance, so you’re not screaming at a printer jam minutes before you head for the train.

8. Rehearse your answers

You don’t know exactly what questions your interviewers will ask. But you probably know at least 60% of the areas they’ll cover. Thinking about the job ad and your CV/application, write down the questions that will almost certainly come up. Then, practise answering them.

You’ll be lucky if even one or two questions are asked exactly as you planned. But you’ll be unlucky if several questions don’t cover the same sort of ground as the answers you’ve prepared. That gives you the chance to use your prepared answers, tweaking them slightly so they fit the questions.

9. Why this job? Why this company?

‘Why do you want this job?’ You know it’s one question that’s almost definitely going to come up, but it’s important to prep the right answer. It’s not about why you want a job, it’s about why you want this specific job in this specific company, so think about a specific answer.

10. Plan your journey

How are you going to get to your interview? Plan your route, book any tickets necessary as far ahead of your interview date as you can, and as the date approaches, keep an eye on any disruption that’s likely to cause a delay. It all helps to minimise the chances of that horrible moment when you realise you’ll never make the interview on time because the train company’s on strike.

11. Choose your outfit

You may be given an idea of the dress code. The nature of the job may suggest it—if the interview is for a finance director, for example, you’ll stand out (and not in a good way) if you turn up in shorts and flip flops. Just make sure you plan, assemble and iron your outfit ahead of the big day.

If you’re not sure what outfit would be appropriate, ask your recruiter, the employer or, if you happen to know someone who works in the organisation you’re applying for, give them a call.

12. Do what makes you feel good #1

What will help you give your very best at interview? An early morning run? The right sounds on the journey down? A coffee the size of the Pacific? Whether you need to feel calm or pumped, make sure you plan time for the things that can help you deliver your best.

13. Do what makes you feel good #2

Unless it’s a requirement of the job, no interviewer is going to pay too much attention to your hair, nails or makeup. But you’ll know if your nails are chipped or you never quite got round to trimming your beard. If you feel a little extra grooming will help boost your confidence levels, even if only slightly, make sure it’s part of your interview preparation.

14. Have a plan for if you get stuck

What if you’re asked a question for which you haven’t rehearsed an answer, and for which you can’t think of a response? These tips can help buy you a little time. Try practising them with a friend or colleague:

  • Ask them to repeat the question
  • Take a sip of water while you consider your approach
  • Don’t launch into the first thing that comes into your head
  • Taking a moment is fine – a pause that feels an hour long to you will be just seconds for your interviewers
  • Hopefully by now you have the foundations of an answer but if not, ask for clarification or a nudge in the right direction

15. Plan some questions for the interviewer

The end of the interview is in sight. You’re almost there. But before you shake hands and head outside you’re asked if you have any questions…

  • Do ask something you’d really like an answer to
  • Don’t ask for information you could easily find on the company website or in the job ad
  • Do ask something meaningful. ‘What do you see as the biggest challenge in this role?’ ‘What is the most important thing from me to accomplish in my first 100 days?’ ‘What do you enjoy most about working here?’ are all good choices.
  • Don’t ask if you got the job
  • It’s not essential to ask something. If you really can’t think of anything, it’s ok to say something along the lines of ‘I had several questions prepped but you’ve answered them all!’.

Need the job to go with the interview skills? Find it with us.

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