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Interviews: Preparation Is Paramount

August 21, 2018

Interviews test competencies, knowledge and experience, so it is important that you prepare properly in advance. Preparation can also help settle the nerves and make it easier to get your thoughts in order prior to walking through the door.

Whether you see the job advertised on line, in the press, in a trade magazine, via an agency or elsewhere – make sure you read the complete job specification and understand what they are really looking for. The spec will always be looking for a perfect fit, but this is a rare occurrence and most organisations understand this.

If you are invited for interview, it is likely they have seen something they like on your CV but you need to be clear on what they are looking for and understand how well you measure up. You can then start to assess your strengths and weaknesses.

It is likely you will have a point of contact who arranged your interview. Take the time to get in touch with them and ask about the role or any preparation they might advise. Ask about the format of the interview, dress code, content, style etc. The more info, the better armed you are for the interview.

Always look at the company or organisation website to learn about operations, recent activities, events, updates, and who the key players are. Find out how long the organisation has been going, how many people work there, the sectors they are involved in. Have a look at what they are saying on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn. Don’t be afraid to engage, find out what people are saying, talk to current employees, get advice or information…any intelligence that might help in the interview.

Glassdoor is a great website that collates comments and information about organisations that could be your potential employer. It provides insights from both candidates and employees, so it can be of real use to you as part of your preparation. However, always be careful and question some of the comments - make sure you get a balanced view.

You need to understand the role you are applying for and map your professional knowledge, skills and experience against that role. You may not have all they require, but consider any transferable skills or other skills, experience and knowledge that could be relevant and add value to the role. You might bring something new or a fresh perspective that could be very attractive.

Once you have gone through the jobspec and looked at what is expected or required for the role, try and make a list of all the competencies they are looking for, both personal and technical. Take a note of examples against each of these, as well as scenarios that illustrate your level of competency.

People are so keen to impress the interviewer or be considered for the job that they all too often forget that an interview is a two-way process. It is an opportunity for you to find out about the role, whether you could work there, whether you could work with the people you meet and whether it fits with your aspirations. You should therefore prepare or memorise questions that are relevant to you and what you want from your next job.

About The Author

Giles O'Halloran is an experienced HR and Recruitment professional who works as a freelance consultant, strategist, writer and coach. He also spent 12 years as a reservist with the UK's Reserve Forces, serving first with the TA and later with the RAuxAF. Giles is passionate about technology, the value of networks and the future of work.


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