Prepare, Prepare, Prepare! (Why preparation is vital)

I cannot stress the necessity of adequately preparing for a job interview enough. A candidate who knows little to nothing about the company or the position they have applied for can be identified in a heartbeat, and the interviewers often feel that they are wasting their time.

Research the company – on the web and on LinkedIn

Do your research and focus on the following:

  • it’s history;
  • performance in the market
  • it’s structures
  • it’s people
  • the markets where it is relevant in
  • the products it supplies
  • the service(s) it provides
  • it’s size
  • moreover, the mission statement.

Ask yourself, “Can I identify with this? Is there anything that I can add that will be of benefit?”

Do a LinkedIn search on the company, articles it has written, and the interviewer whom you will meet. This way, you may be better prepared for the questions, “Why do you want to work for us, and what do you know about our company?”

Prepare for possible questions by roleplaying

Be prepared with an answer to the question, “Tell me a bit about yourself.” This is where you use character words such as ‘committed, loyal, and experienced.’ (Remember to use these only if they are true.) Also, keep as close as possible to the wording you have used in your ‘Personal Profile’ box in your resume.

When asked what your core skill is, keep it to the first listed skill on your resume. It is important to remember that your resume should be job-specific and that you should at least read the resume through before you attend the interview,

What are the typical interview questions you must have answers to?

Strange how expected questions often catch us off guard. However, expecting a question and not preparing for it can lead to making or breaking your interview.

Five questions you can expect at an interview

Here are the five questions regularly asked (expect variations of these questions):

1. Why are you here?

2. What can you bring to the company?

3. What kind of person are you?

4. Why are you different from all the other candidates – your point of difference?

5. Can I afford you? (It is not often spoken in such a direct manner, but could be hidden behind the question of what value you bring to the team.)

Go and think about your achievements (job-specific), challenges you have faced in your career and how you have overcome it. Have you applied problem resolution skills, where you added value to situations – saving time and money?

Consider the following questions when you draft your answers:

  • What initiative have I taken to solve a problem?
  • Have I developed something?
  • Have I identified a need for something in the company, designed a new program, finding a new product line?
  • Have I resolved a panic situation?
  • How have I dealt with a difficult person?
  • How have I dealt with the difficult situation?
  • Have I organised a major event?

Write down the answers to these questions if you do not know google possible answers and make it relevant to your situation.

Once you have written the answers down, ask someone to help you in roleplaying it. This way, the situation will feel more familiar once you are there.

What to wear to an interview?

A company website could give you apparent indications of their dress code. If you still cannot gauge the dress code from the website, call their reception and ask if they have a specific dress code. If you cannot get a clear answer, smart casual is a good option. If you are a man, then keep a tie in your briefcase (already tied) that you can slip on if needed.

I have found that it will always be smart for finance/banking/professional roles – suit and tie. 

Other roles would require dress pants, dress shoes and a collar white or blue shirt. Fine stripes would be in order. For more creative types of jobs, a more bold collar shirt would be in order.

Remember, rather be overdressed than underdressed. (You can always dress down, but cannot necessarily dress up)

Clean your shoes, have a subtle underarm fragrance applied, no perfume, stick to dark clothing, and keep jewellery and makeup to a minimum.

Additional questions you could expect at an interview (always remember to explain why you say what you say)

  • Could you tell me a bit about yourself?
  • Why do you think you are the best person for this job?
  • Why are you interested in working for this company?
  • What do you know about our company? ∙ Why are you interested in this job?
  • Why did you leave your last position?
  • What do you see as a strength?
  • What do you see as a weakness?
  • What is your best quality (why?)
  • Where do you see yourself in the next 3 – 5 years (“IN YOUR CHAIR” – is not a good answer!)
  • What have you been doing since your last job?
  • Can you work under pressure?
  • How do you handle difficult team members/managers/customers/situations?
  • Can you work overtime?
  • What would a harsh critic say about you?
  • How would you describe your personality?
  • What would your last boss say about you?
  • What did you like/dislike about your previous job?
  • What are your salary expectations?

We love to hear from our readers. If you could add anything to this list, please comment in the section below, or send us an email.

Should you need assistance during the process of landing a job, please contact me. I also welcome you to connect with me on LinkedIn. Follow my regular updates here on LinkedIn and Facebook. Send me a LinkedIn message or find my contact details here.

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