Preparing for an interview – 5 key steps

Preparing for an interview – 5 key steps

Did you just land an interview at your dream company? Or are you simply preparing yourself for when that opportunity presents itself? Well, you’ve come to the right place! I’m here to tell you everything there is to know when preparing for an interview. But of course, in a simple and understandable way. I broke it down into 5 key things you need to do to make yourself ready for your next interview. And don’t worry, it won’t take you days to go through it. But it will however give you an extra shot at acing that interview, and landing your dream job.

Let’s get started!

1. Do your research

There is nothing recruiters hate more than having an interview with someone who clearly has no idea about the company or job they applied for. Trust me, this is not something you can bullshit your way out of. Interviewers can definitely tell if you’ve done your homework. And guess what? They love it when you do. Not to mention how bad it makes you look if you didn’t. Especially when they ask you at the start of the interview things like:

  • Why did you apply for this job?
  • What do you know about our company?
  • What makes you want this specific job?

Not only can you expect them to ask you questions like these, but I can guarantee it. And this is your chance to give them a great first impression of you. So do you research. Because walking in with no knowledge about the company is not going to get you hired. In some cases, not being prepared can lead to the interview ending earlier. Which is why it is so important to show them that you know what kind of company they are. This includes knowing what they do, how they do it, and who their clients are. I’m not telling you that you need to be an expert, but knowing the basics is expected.

So how do you conduct your company research? Start by checking out their company website, their social media channels, and Googling the company. Maybe they have a weekly internal newsletter available for you to read? Or a blog with the latest company achievements? For more recent news, their social media can be a good thing to have a look at. But not all companies are that active. Best is probably to Google the company name along with “news” or “article” to see if anything was written about them lately. Or maybe you know someone at the company that can tell you about it? Get creative!

2. Why this company?

Apart from the company research, you should also prepare yourself for questions like “Why do you want to work for us?”. It can be a difficult question to answer on the spot, so preparing for it is crucial. Based on your company research, think about 1-3 business-related reasons why you find the company interesting. Maybe it’s their customers, their products, or their new way of operating?

Let me give you an example: You read in the news that the company will be expanding their marketing department to create their own content, instead of handing it over to a marketing agency. This would be a great thing to mention in the interview as an exciting business development and something you think is a great business move. Which is also one of the reasons you would like to join the company, to take part in the expansion. It only takes you a few minutes to research that finding, but it will leave the interviewer extremely impressed.

Try coming up with one or two other interesting reasons as to why you find the company interesting. Maybe that they are very serious about Corporate Social Responsibility. Or that you can identify well with the company culture. Both things you can find very easily on almost every company’s website. Mention it during the interview and you’ll seem both prepared, and versatile for giving two completely different reasons.

3. Why are you looking for a career change?

Before the interview, be prepared to explain why you are looking for a new job. The answer obviously depends on your current situation. If you’re unemployed, why did you leave your previous job? And if you’re employed, why are you looking to change? Sometimes companies decide to hire someone with less experience and skills, if they have more motivation. So in order to not miss out on an opportunity to someone less experienced than you, prepare to explain yourself. Or maybe you don’t have that much experience? More the reason to have a legitimate reason for applying.

Let me give you some examples which you can say:

  • You achieved XXX in your existing role and you’re eager to take on a new challenge
  • You no longer feel aligned with your company’s direction, and you think it’s time for a change
  • You’re looking to expand into different types of areas/products/services
  • The organization is too small/large for your liking

These are just a few examples which you can adapt to your own work situation. What is important to mention here is that you should never speak about current/previous employer/employees in a negative way. It can easily backfire, making the interviewer think that there are two sides to the story, and wonder what your part in the situation was. And you don’t want them to think that you were the one at fault.

4. Prepare for details

During your interview you want to be everything but “generally speaking”. A lot of people talk in general about their experience without going into the details. Stand out from the crowd by stating specific examples, detailed descriptions, facts, numbers, and actual achievements. Even if you are fresh out of university with zero experience, name all the achievements you made during your studies instead. An academic career is still a career. Did you take any specific classes related to the job? What projects did you complete? It’s a relevant experience!

The interviewer will most definitely ask you about your achievements in your previous job. And when they do, you can not be hesitant or unsure. So make sure that you are prepared ahead of time to impress. And this advice is also true for your resume. A resume filled with general statements such as “responsible for customer service” is not going to get you very far. Instead, fill it to the max with all your facts, figures, and numbers. I promise, you’ll get way more interviews that way.

5. Research yourself

This is the last advice I have for you, and it’s an important one. But even though it’s important, it’s probably also the easiest one. Research yourself. And I’m not saying you should Google yourself. I mean you should check your resume. I know what you’re thinking. “It’s my resume, I know what’s on it”. Well, it’s not so much explaining what you did in the past, is more how you say it. As I mentioned earlier, you should always talk about things in a positive light. If your previous boss was horrible to you, you don’t flat out say that. Instead, say you left to join an organization which had a more supportive leadership style. How you phrase it is what matters, because it tells the interviewer a lot about you. And it can be a tricky thing to answer without preparing for it first.

I hope this blog post could be useful for you when preparing for an interview. For further help on how to land a job, we have written down help for avoiding CV mistakes, writing a Cover Letter, and how you can improve your CV. Is your next interview online? Don’t worry. We can help you prepare for that too, here. Or check out our blog for other helpful posts!

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