How to Prepare for an Interview as a Candidate

August 23, 2022

10 min read

When you’ve got an interview, it’s already a success. Only 20% of job seekers get to this stage, so simply being called in for one is a positive sign. Especially after the world unemployment rate has risen to 7.48% in 2022, it’s harder to impress employers and win a dream job contest. That is why nailing the interview is vital to anchor the job — and that’s where preparation comes in. Let’s dive into some tips on how to get a job offer after an interview.

Why experience and recommendations aren’t enough to get a job

In former times, job seekers could rely on their work experience and good recommendations to get them through the door. However, the playing field has shifted with more people staying in school for longer and the workforce becoming increasingly globalized. Nowadays, not only how well you perform your work, but also whether you know how to present your achievements and communicate with your boss and colleagues is of great importance.

If you were selected among other candidates for an interview, it means that the employer liked your CV and wanted to know more about your hard and soft skills. But sometimes, applicants don’t make it past this stage because of how they handle themselves during a conversation. They should demonstrate superior soft skills, but most don’t know how to do it and make common mistakes that result in rejection.

The latest research demonstrates that 33% of talent acquisition specialists need only 90 seconds to decide whether they want to hire a candidate. That doesn’t leave much time to make an impression, so you must know how to sell yourself in a conversation. 40% of employers will reject you if there is no enthusiasm in your voice when speaking about the job. Also, a widespread reason for a turnoff is when a recruiter understands that you have no clue about the role you applied for. Unbelievable, but looking too trendy for the position is also why applicants sometimes don’t get a job offer.

As you understand, many things besides your technical skills matter. So, how to send the right signals and look suitable for the job in the eyes of employers? Let’s discuss the three main types of interviews and how you can prepare for all of them.

The main types of job interviews

There are generally three job interviews: phone interviews, screening, and selection interviews.

Phone interviews are usually the first stage of the hiring process, and employers often use them to save time and money by whittling down the pool of applicants before inviting them in for a face-to-face conversation.

Screening interviews are usually conducted by human resources staff or recruitment consultants rather than the future boss. They shortlist the candidates who will be invited to attend a selection interview. This stage tends to be reasonably brief and often focuses on your skills and experience. It helps to determine whether you meet the basic requirements for the position. Recruiters at StaffingPartner identify and screen first suitable candidates for the next stage in a record time – just 3 business days. Contact us for more information!

Selection interviews are usually the last step and are managed by the employer. This is where your potential boss decides whether you are a good fit for the team, the company, and the role. These interviews are usually extended, and you will be asked questions designed to test specific skills or qualities.

13 steps to prepare yourself for any interview

Here are 13 things you should consider, so you can go into the meeting feeling confident and ready to impress.

1. Start with a research

Learn everything you find about the company and the position you applied for. This allows you to answer common interview questions like “Why do you want to work with us?” confidently. It also shows the employer that you’re genuinely interested in the opportunity.

Without proper research, you might miss out on disturbing information about the company. For example, if they’ve recently been in the news for all the wrong reasons. Previous employers’ reviews, news articles, the company’s website, and social media channels are all excellent places to start your research.

Where to look at reviews on different workspaces: Fairygoodboss, Glassdoor, Indeed, TheJobCrowd, Comparably.

2. Know your CV inside out

Your CV got you an interview, so reread it and be prepared to talk about each role in detail, and have some examples of your key achievements ready to share. Also, think about what you will answer on “Why did you leave your previous job.” 

Forget about phrases like “It is in my resume.” They know it. The recruiter wants to see if you can explain anything on your CV, so they can better understand your skills and experience.

Another taboo is talking bad about your previous boss or colleagues. It will make you look unprofessional and difficult to work with.

3. Practice

The more job interviews you have, the better you’ll perform at the most important one for you. If there are no other invitations, you can go through a few mock interviews with friends or family. This will help you to get into the right frame of mind and feel more confident on the day of your most anticipated interview.

Google the most expected interview questions for your specialty and try to answer them. If a job requires knowledge of some language, answer twice – in your mother tongue and target language.

4. Don’t emphasize your lack of background

If you just graduated or you’re changing careers, likely, you won’t have much (or any) direct experience in the role you’re applying for. And that’s OK. Focus on the talents and qualities that make you a good fit for the role. For example, if you’re applying for a marketing position without experience, you could highlight your ability to use social media, your writing skills, or your creative eye.

“I don’t know” sounds like a simple but bad idea for an answer. Remember that an interview is also a test of your problem-solving skills. Demonstrate your way of thinking by coming up with a response, even if it’s not the right one.

5. Consider your gestures

Your body movement and gesture speak volumes about you even when you are silent. According to Twin Employment research, 40% of interviewers reject candidates who seem unconfident. Therefore, sit up straight because a good posture will make you feel more confident and project the right image. 65% of candidates who don’t maintain eye contact will also get a “no.” 20% of recruiters don’t tolerate prospects with crossed arms. Also, try to avoid fidgeting.

6. Dress professionally

How you dress will also impact your perception, so it’s essential to dress for success. 71% of talent acquisition specialists would not hire a candidate who dresses inappropriately for an interview. This means no ripped jeans or t-shirts with offensive slogans! Whether a video or in-person meeting, always dress as if you’re meeting with the employer in person. This means choosing professional, clean, and wrinkle-free clothing. The outfit must be appropriate for the role and company culture. Make sure you look presentable and well-groomed.

7. Arrive early

Plan your journey to the meeting place. Things can happen on the road, so plan your trip with half an hour to spare. If it is a video interview, find a quiet place in advance with a good internet connection and no distractions.

8. Turn off your phone

It would help if you gave the interviewer your full attention while in the interview room. So, make sure you turn off your phone before going to the meeting. In the case of a video interview, put your phone in silent mode and out of reach. 

9. Speak confidently and straight to the point

Your speaking will also impact your perception, so you must speak clearly and confidently. Think about your answer before speaking. Use such construction as: “In my opinion…”, “I would say that…”. It will give you time to think about what you want to say. 

Pay attention also to what you are sharing with the interviewer. Personal information is not always necessary and can even be seen as unprofessional. For example, you don’t need to mention your relationship status or whether you have kids.

10. Listen carefully

As well as speaking clearly, it is also essential to listen carefully. Ensure you’re giving the interviewer your full attention, and avoid interrupting or finishing their sentences.

You can write down key points after (or during) the meeting to help you remember what was said.

11. Don’t avoid the part when you can ask question

You can spill off your concerns and doubts about the position when recruiters are asking whether you have any questions. Let’s say you read a bad review and can’t get it out of your head. It’s time to ask about this case. Or you heard from acquaintances that there is a severe outflow of personnel in the company. Let’s see what the employer has to say about it.

Prepare unique interview questions to ask the employer in advance to learn more about the role and the company. If you found something disturbing during the research or interview, this is your chance to ask about it and get clarification. This will show that you are seriously considering this company to build a career there.

Questions to ask at the end of an interview:

  • What are the next steps in selecting a specialist for the position?
  • When can I expect to hear back from you?
  • What are the main priorities for someone in this role?
  • Could you tell me more about the company culture?
  • What challenges does the team/company currently face?
  • What KPIs or targets are in place for this role?
  • What are the opportunities for development and career progression?
  • Do you have any concerns about my eligibility for the role?

12. Follow up with thank you letter after the interview

Once the meeting is over, many employers expect you to follow up with a thank-you email. This will show your appreciation for the opportunity and keep you top of mind for the employer. A follow-up letter is also a good reminder if you haven’t heard back from the employer. 

13. Debrief

Reflect on your performance to identify any areas you need to work on. After debriefing, you will be better prepared for future interviews.

How to debrief yourself after the interview:

  • analyzing your performance: what went well and could have gone better?
  • thinking about the questions you were asked and how you answered them;
  • reflecting on your body language and non-verbal cues;
  • considering how you felt during the interview and whether you were able to stay calm and confident;
  • thinking if there was something you could have done differently.

The bottom line

By following these tips, you can be sure you’re as prepared as possible for your following interview. So, go into the meeting confidently, and you’ll be one step closer to landing your dream job. By the way, about a dream job. We have several vacancies which may interest you. Check them out for more information.

Best of luck!

Read also: 12 Resume Tips That’ll Get You to the Interview

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