There is an abundance of useful (and not so useful) advice out there for preparing for that all-important interview, so I’ll attempt to keep this reasonably short and sweet.
I have one friend who swears by playing Bon Jovi ‘You Give Love a Bad Name’ on repeat whilst getting ready for any interview. He claims that it is hard not to feel energetic and ‘go gettery’ after listening to it! I have another who has to take their ‘lucky ted’ hidden in their bag to portend good things. Whatever works for you, that’s great, but there are some useful snippets of information and tips that I have gleaned through talking to my colleagues, our host companies, and even my peers.
It should go without saying that you need to prepare and research the company. However, do this in a clever way. Don’t just learn information about them that you can repeat; I’m sure the MD you are interviewing with knows when they were established and what their turnover is, and what their USP’s are. While it’s good to know their latest news and blog posts, what you need to do when you research is really understand why you like what you have researched, how you will fit in, and what you can bring to their company ethos. You could also look up an existing staff member on LinkedIn and ask for a moment of their time to pick their brains. Be careful with this last one though, you want to dance the fine line between using your initiative and becoming a stalker!
As part of your interview preparation I am sure that you will have prepared your answers to the usual expected questions as you will obviously want some idea as to how to answer that question ‘Tell us about yourself’, but it will be obvious if you have learnt your answer! Often, companies like that you don’t have ‘rehearsed answers’ so don’t just recite parrot fashion. For example, saying ‘I don’t know’ is OK, so long as you can back it up. ‘I don’t know because I don’t have the industry experience to know where I want to be in ten years time’ or ‘I don’t know because my course of study focused on x. however this relates to y. in this way so I can easily transfer my current experience and add a new skill set …’
Also, it is much better to actually listen and answer the questions they do ask: it would be embarrassing to go off on a tangent about your excellent experience working within the industry, when they have actually asked you tell them of your experience of working in a small/large/purple office.
Finally, knowing plenty about yourself should be a given! Review your CV before you attend the interview and look at the job requirements again. We also find that many employers ask graduates what their degree covered, so know what relevant modules you have done and what you enjoyed. If I was asked what books I studied during my English degree and what topics I wrote essays on I would struggle to list them without looking back, so take the time to do so.
One of the simple things I recommend that should make your interview day less stressful is to plan, and even practice your route beforehand. Make sure you leave plenty of time and allow for any unexpected delays, diversions or hold ups en-route. While we have had one candidate who was an hour and a half late to his interview and still managed to get the job, that is certainly not the norm. It is always better to arrive early, scope out the area, and you can even go for a quick coffee and read over your notes before you go in (the caffeine might even do you good!)
I always take all of my notes and interview preparation in a folder to interviews to review them over my cuppa when I am early, but I have found that it is useful take two copies of your CV, one for you, one for them. This way you can give them one if they don’t have it, and you can ask to get yours out to be a useful prompt, and something to do with your hands to stop from fidgeting!
We often get feedback from our host companies that the interviewee didn’t ask them any questions, so it always pays to make sure you have a couple of well thought out questions under your belt (don’t just ask them what your holiday allowance is)!
I’m not going to lie, I hate interviews, so I do feel your pain. However, there is nothing better than knowing you have done everything you can to ensure your success on the day!
Stay calm, you can do it! 🙂