by Xanthe Kershaw
According to a recent survey of job-seekers, the typical person spends no more than two hours preparing for a job interview. With potential employment at stake, a period equivalent to the length of an average movie does not seem much. Sure, in two hours the Titanic can sink, Hobbits can cross Middle Earth, and Will Smith can probably save the world in one way or another, but can you equip yourself for job success? By following these simple tips you can optimize your preparation time — and still obtain interview success.
Know Your Application. Having applied to a number of jobs, you may feel you could churn out application form answers backward while standing on your head, but never underestimate the importance of knowing your application inside out. Go over what you have said and commit it to memory, so if your interviewers refer to any part of your job application you will not be caught unaware. Review your resume or CV in detail. Be prepared to discuss anything, especially aspects that may be perceived as weaknesses or lack of experience.
Know the Job. In the same way, make sure you know exactly what jobs you are applying for. Find a detailed job description: the company itself is likely to provide one, but if not you are bound to find something relevant by searching online. Think about every point of the description and how you specifically would be an asset in the role. Create a mental bank of examples that demonstrate your aptitude. You may find it useful to follow the SAS guideline:
- a Situation in your personal or professional life
- the Action you undertook
- how this action led to Success.
[Editor’s Note: Another technique for interview success is the STAR Interviewing Technique.]
Research, Research, Research. Once you are sure you know your own application and the job description in encyclopaedic depth, it is time to focus on the company itself. Use any resources you have access to — the Internet, industry publications, even your local library — to garner an accurate impression of the ethos and aims of the business. It is useful to start with generalities, but make sure you focus on particular examples. What especially do you like about the company? What aspect of their business has impressed you? Anyone being interviewed wants a job, but these details will make you stand out. They will demonstrate to your potential employer that you have thought about the value of their company and how you particularly can be an asset to it.
[Editor’s Note: Learn more about researching companies in our Step-by-Step Guide to Researching Companies.]
Interrogate Yourself. Before your interview, it is useful if you spend a good deal of time thinking about what you are likely to be asked when interviewing for jobs. Put yourself in the position of the employer — what would you want to know? There are some standard interview questions, many of which you can find listed online. [Editor’s Note: Start here for our Job Interview Questions Database for Job-Seekers — or here for our Job Interview Questions Collection.] Go through your responses, focusing on using positive language, concrete examples of accomplishments, and how the company will benefit from hiring you. Writing your answers down is a good way to make them stick in your head without making them sound rehearsed. You could also rope in a friend or family member to act as your interviewer! [Editor’s Note: See our article, Best Bet for Job Interview Prep: Rehearsed, Mock, and Videotaped Interviews.]
Final Thoughts on Job Interview Prep
Spending half an hour on each of these four elements will fill the standard two-hour preparation time and hopefully render you completely ready for any job interview, but of course, we recommend that you spend much more time than the standard if you truly want to achieve interviewing success and receive one or more job offers.
Finally, remember: coming across well in interviews for jobs is a skill that anyone can acquire. The more prepared you are, the more you practice and go on interviews, the more self-aware and competent you will appear in your next job interview.
See also, our 10 Best Job Interview Tips for Job-Seekers.
Questions about some of the terminology used in this article? Get more information (definitions and links) on key college, career, and job-search terms by going to our Job-Seeker’s Glossary of Job-Hunting Terms.
Xanthe Kershaw is a freelance staff writer, specializing in recruitment and helping to provide informative articles on careers and for TotalJobs.com, a leading UK Job site.
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