Preparing for an Interview: How to Ace It

September 2020 by


Getting ready for an interview can be very nerve-wracking. It’s likely getting the job will be very important to you and therefore you want to make sure you impress the interviewer! So, how should you handle it? The best way to tackle an interview is to be prepared. If you go into the interview having done lots of preparation, you’ll feel confident and that’s what you want the interviewer to see. Keep reading to find out how to ace your interview:

Different types of interviews

First, let’s explore the different types of interviews so you can get familiar with them! Due to COVID-19, it’s likely most interviews will be digital at the moment but here are the most common types to get prepared for:

Telephone interview: This is a common first interview phase, where the company finds out a bit more about you before deciding whether to progress with your application. At this stage, you can even prepare some notes and pointers to help you along – they can’t see you looking at them so you might as well use all the help you can get!

Video call interview: Video call interviews have become increasingly popular, especially at the moment. It’s a much more flexible option as you can do it from the comfort of your own home as there’s no need to travel. You still have the opportunity for notes here but remember they can see you this time – so don’t spend too much time looking at them!

Face to face interview: These are, of course, the most common form of interview and usually the most important. It often comes after a telephone interview and is one you have to prepare for the most as you will have no prompts around you.

Group interviews: Group interviews are common for competitive job roles where lots of strong candidates have applied. It’s important you are confident going into this type of interview as they will want to see how you perform in front of other people, so make sure to jump in and answer questions and not just sit back!

How to prepare

Before any interview, you should make sure to do your bit in learning about the company and the role you’ve applied for. The more you demonstrate to the employer you’ve done your homework, the more desirable you will be. You should look at:

The company: Look at the company values and make sure to use these in your answers. Then look to see if there are any current affairs involving the company and relate it back to your role. You can also look into the companies mission statement to find out more about their vision.

The job description: Always relate your answers back to the job description. Here you can demonstrate that you have the skills, experience and abilities they desire. For example, if they want somebody to liaise with other groups then demonstrating your communication skills will be vital here.

Types of interview questions

Depending on the company, it can be easy to find out what type of interview questions you will be asked. For example, Glassdoor allows people to suggest the questions they got asked and the answers they gave for the exact company/job role you could be applying for so this is a good way to prepare. Of course, it’s not definite you’ll be asked the same ones, so here are some popular questions to make yourself familiar with:

Tell me about yourself? – Potentially the most difficult and yet most common question in an interview. It can be difficult as it’s so open ended. The best way to answer the question is to tell the employer where you’ve been in your career, where you are now and where you want to be. Make sure to include insight into how this has shaped you as a person – they don’t want you to just relay everything that’s on your CV!

Why should we hire you? – Although it might not seem like it, this question will always work in your favour if you’re well prepared. It basically gives you the chance to sell yourself and tell the interviewer what you can bring to their company. Make sure to be confident in your answer and believe in yourself, so they can believe in you too!

Tell me about a time you faced conflict at work and how you dealt with it? – This will demonstrate your ability to problem solve. It doesn’t have to be anything major, but highlighting you dealt with it well will show you can deal with challenges.

Where do you see yourself in five years? – Ok so if you’re not planning to be in this role for that long, make sure you don’t say you’ve got completely different plans! They want to see ambition but also dedication to the role you’re applying for, even if you speak about progressing to further seniority in that role. Outline how the skills you develop will help you to progress.

Tell me about a time when you have demonstrated leadership skills? – If you’ve been in a managerial role or taken lead on a project before, make sure to mention it here. We think it’s best to prepare for this one, and you can do so by using the common STAR method. It will help you to structure the best answer.

These are just a handful of the questions you could be asked, but as they’re so common it’s likely you’ll get a variation of at least one of them. Be prepared to impress, and don’t ramble too much – stick to the point!

Interview techniques

Although the questions are most certainly a huge aspect to an interview they’re also many smaller techniques to an interview that are just as important. Consider these when you’re preparing:

  • Dress smart – an obvious one, but it makes all the difference. Make sure to look the part.
  • Make eye contact – this will demonstrate confidence and keep you focused.
  • Arrive slightly early – this will highlight good time management skills and show you’re eager for the interview.
  • Sit up straight – this will show you are alert.
  • Pay attention – for some people it’s easy to get distracted and zone out. Avoid this by making sure you’re paying attention to what the interviewer is saying – you don’t want to miss anything.
  • Be positive – it’s important to stay positive, especially about past employers or workplaces regardless of what’s happened. Always keep it professional.

How long does an interview last?

This massively varies on the job role and the type of interview. Phone interviews are usually the shortest as this is just an initial stage however face-to-face and video interviews usually last between 45 minutes – 1 hour. So be prepared to be there for a while!

Questions you should ask

Now we’re pretty sure this is a universal question that you will definitely get asked! Do you have any questions for us? It’s very easy to get stuck in this situation and say no but it’s actually very important that you have questions prepared. This shows you’re interested in the company and have been thinking about the role. If you’re stuck, here are some suggestions:

  • What is your favourite thing about working here?
  • What would I do on a typical day?
  • What would you have expected me to achieve in this role in 6 months time?

These are just some of the easiest questions you can use to impress the employer. It’ll also give you a grasp on what’s in store for you if you’re successful.

These are the main things you need to know in able to ace your interview! Each point is equally important so consider them all to be successful. Interviews can be tricky but hopefully, with these steps, you’ll feel confident and succeed. If you have an interview coming up soon, good luck and let us know any extra tips you might have in the comments below!



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