The importance of preparation before a job interview

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Ever heard the saying, 'You can lead a horse to water, but you can't force it to drink?'. I have to remind myself of this saying whenever I conduct a 'prep call' and find that the candidate hasn't even looked at the job description.

As a qualified training and development professional I use the skills I've developed over thirty years in travel, training, and recruitment to provide useful tools to my candidates. These tools help them to prepare for their interview. However, I won't do the prep for them. If they can't prepare for the role then will they be the right type of employee that my client wants and deserves? Most likely not. Will they fail at the interview, most definitely.

So, fail to prepare, prepare to fail.

Here are some tips to think about before a job interview

First off, research the company and the industry you’re applying for a job in. Find out the company size, ethos, what it specialises in, its successes, and who its competitors are and why it does well in its field.

Rehearse your own profile so that you can sell yourself at the interview. Have a few key points ready in your head. For example, why are you the right candidate for this position. Practise saying why and how you’re a good communicator, with examples – eg meetings or projects you’ve led, or ideas that you’ve had which were implemented. Also, be prepared to say why you want this particular job.

Expect difficult questions and be ready with a defence. Eg, You may think I’m not right because…, But this is why I’d be great…

Prepare for common interview questions, such as what your weaknesses are.

Think of a few questions for them that show you have researched the company. You could ask what sort of person they think would be best for this role.

Enter the room with energy and enthusiasm and smile. Thank them for their time. Maybe say something positive about the company in the first 5 minutes, and say you’d relish the chance to join and say why.

Don't wait for the interviewer to drag information out of you, insert points about your skills and yourself in answers, always selling yourself. Tell them the selling point then talk about an example of when you demonstrated it at work.

Talk about your strengths, and tailor them to strengths that will work in this role. Always remain positive. Don’t talk about negatives from your current or former jobs. No one likes a moaner. If they ask what you didn’t like about the job, spin the answer to a positive.

If an interviewer asks you to talk about yourself, make your answer relevant to the job, rather than about pets or family members.

A common interview question is to be asked to describe an experience that demonstrates a skill that the company thinks is important for this job. For example, how did you act when you made an unpopular decision, or with a difficult employee, or difficult manager.

Remember, practise makes perfect, so rehearse the job interview with a friend or partner in advance. And practise bits that don’t flow.

If you'd like a free copy of our 'Interview Preparation Tips' to help you achieve more from an interview, please email

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