How to prepare for a job interview: where to start…

So, you’ve landed an interview for a role you’re really excited about. It’s great news, but now comes the tricky part – convincing them you’re the best fit for the job. Standing out in an interview can be tough. That’s especially true if you know there’s a lot of competition for the position. Luckily, we’re here to help and preparing for your next job interview is the best way to feel more confident.

Using our advice as a starting point, you’ll be able to confidently prepare for every stage of an interview. From finding your zen before stepping into the room, to practising mock questions with someone you trust, and when preparing for your next job interview we believe the best place to start is knowing your potential new employer the best you can.

Understanding the company and the job role

One of the best ways to make sure you’re ticking the right boxes is to have a complete understanding of what the job itself requires. What’s more, it’s also in your interest to understand how the hiring company operates, and what kind of candidate they’re ideally looking for.

Here are some of the most important factors to think about:

  • Understand the company’s community presence

    If giving back to local charities, non-profits, schools or any other kind of community service is at the forefront of what they do, try to talk about it. Whether it’s highlighting your interest in contributing or simply acknowledging the impact they’re having, it shows you’ve taken a genuine interest.

  • Work out their niche

    What does this business do which makes them stand out? Try to figure out what they shout about the most, and tailor your responses around that. For example, if they’re proud of their remote-first culture, mention how this is something you would like to embrace – as long as that’s how you truly feel.

  • Learn about competitors

    If you applied via LinkedIn, search in the “Other companies people viewed” section, and you’ll be provided with a series of competitors. By researching these businesses, you’ll start to notice themes about how companies in their industry present themselves, as well as what their core targets and goals often look like.

  • Use company review sites

    Places like Glassdoor are a great place to turn to if you want to find out what employees actually think of an employer. You can read through reviews specific to the job you’re applying to, or across the company as a whole. You might discover a place isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.

  • Go over the job description again

    Make sure you’re fully comprehending every element of the job listing. This is your best source of information for what is being specifically looked for and is the best place to start when it comes to understanding the role itself.

Once you feel confident in understanding the role, industry and company then the next stage is to then prepare yourself to reflect and position yourself for your potential new job.

Preparing for common interview questions

While it’s impossible to know exactly what will be asked ahead of time, there are certain questions which tend to get asked in interviews – no matter what field you’re working in. Here are some of the most common you’re likely to face, as well as a good way to answer them to make yourself look professional.

  • When have you been challenged in the past?

    You’re bound to face challenges and tests during your working career. An employer will want to know the kinds of obstacles that presented themselves in the past, as well as what you did to successfully navigate them. Good examples of this include overcoming challenging professional relationships, managing last-minute requests you couldn’t avoid, or pacifying and impressing particularly fussy clients.

  • Why do you want to work here?

    A satisfied employee is a more productive one. An interviewer is trying to work out what your motivations are for applying to a position. If you have any specific reasons why you chose this listing in particular, this would be the time to bring them up.

  • What are your strengths and weaknesses?

    It’s relatively easy to talk about your strengths (just remember to be modest), but a little harder to mention weaknesses in a positive light. The key here is to position them as things you are either looking to improve on (such as a lack of experience) or personality traits which are both good and bad (like holding other employees to high standards).

  • Where do you see yourself in the future?

    This might sound like an employer trying to work out if you’ll cut and run on them, but it’s more likely they want to know your long-term goals. They’re looking to see if they align with their own, and whether you’re someone who’d be a good fit. The key here is to be honest, but also give no absolutes. Talk about your ambition to constantly improve, as well as contribute to the company’s objectives.

  • Why should we hire you?

    Is there anything which hasn’t yet been mentioned that you know would be good to talk about? This is the time to really promote yourself, and tell an interviewer what positive traits you can bring to the table. Don’t brag, but be firm and clear about why you’re a good worker who can be trusted.

If you’d like to learn more about common interview questions and the best ways to tackle them, make sure to check out our guide on the subject.

While you may never know exactly what lies in store, it’s vital to be as ready as possible in order to heighten your chances of succeeding. Preparing for your next job interview is a good place to start.

For more common questions asked in an interview and how to answer them!