Whether you're applying for jobs or looking to go to university or college, the chances are that you'll need to have at least one interview — maybe several. Being interviewed can be extremely stressful, but thorough preparation can considerably reduce the stress. Here are a few tips.
What Kind of Interview Is It?
Many people assume that all interviews are much the same, but actually there are several types. These may include:
The interview may be remote, perhaps on Zoom or Teams, rather than in person, and you could be asked in any of these contexts to give a presentation. All this information should be stated in the invitation to the interview, but if you can't find it, don't be afraid to phone or email and ask for clarification. This will show you're on the ball and ready to ask the right questions.
Prepare for the Questions You Might Be Asked
You obviously can't know exactly what questions the interviewers will ask, but you can shorten the odds by coming up with a list of the kind of likely questions and your answers to them. Even if that precise question isn't asked, there may well be something similar. Go through all the information you have about the company or institution, whether that's from their website or from anything they may have sent you. Establish what they're likely to want to know about you, given the role you're applying for, and work out what to answer. At the same time, go through your application, including both the form and the cover letter. The interviewers will know what you've said there and will be likely to ask you about things you've mentioned, so you'll need to be able to back that up confidently.
Prepare for What You're Going to Say
Besides your answers to the questions the interviewers ask, you'll be expected to take an active part in the interview. This means you'll need to have relevant questions ready to ask, when invited. What the interviewers will be looking for is evidence that you have a broad understanding of the company or institution and what your role in it would be, without assuming that you know everything. Go through all the information you have and identify questions that demonstrate that you're engaged and eager to learn. Asking about training opportunities, for instance, will go down much better than asking about holiday entitlement.
Getting to the Interview
It doesn't matter how prepared you are, if you turn up ten minutes late and panicking, you're not going to impress anyone. Make sure you know exactly where you have to get to, how you're going to get there and how long it should take — then aim to arrive at least 15-20 minutes early, if not more. Dress smartly, thinking about what would be expected for the role, but make sure you're comfortable. Get a good night's sleep the night before, don't skip any meals, and be sure to keep yourself well hydrated. Don't forget to bring any materials or documents you might have been asked for. If the meeting's online, of course, you don't need to travel, but make sure your device is ready, the WiFi is strong and that you've already downloaded the app you're going to be using.
Things to Remember at the Interview
You need to make a strong impression at the interview. Arriving on time and unflustered, smartly dressed and groomed, and with your answers and questions prepared will help — but there are other things to remember. Make sure you're polite and friendly. Give a firm handshake at the beginning and end of the interview, maintain eye contact with the person who's speaking to you or whom you're primarily addressing, and don't forget to smile.
Put a positive spin on whatever you say, but don't exaggerate, let alone lie — and don't try to outwit the interviewers. One common question, for instance, is something like "What would you consider your biggest weakness?" If you try to turn that into a positive by offering something like "I'm a bit too much of a perfectionist", you're unlikely to impress them. They've heard all that before. The best approach to an interview is to be as natural as possible and show who you are. But, of course, show the best side of yourself. Register with TutorExtra for access to a wide range of resources to support your education and career.