The fact that you have been called for an interview is a positive sign. It means that you have convinced the selection panel that you can meet their requirements for the job. Having achieved this much, it is now time to build up your confidence and develop a positive attitude to take you through to a job offer. A little nervousness is perfectly natural and healthy, but channel the extra energy in a positive direction - do some research on the organisation and immerse yourself in your past successes and strengths.
Apart from finding out as much as you can about interview in general, the best way to prepare for an interview is to practice. Talk to people who have been to a number of interview, get tips from those who have been successful. Practice answering interview questions with friends, family, the mirror or come to a practice interview session.
Interview performance is all about preparation. The main areas to concentrate on with your preparation include researching the organisation and the job, and finding out about the interview format.
However, you cannot go into an interview without knowing about the most important element: YOU. Here are some exercises to get you started thinking about what you would bring to an organisation:
- Describe five ideas, accomplishments, strengths, skills or personal qualities that you think would best "sell" yourself to an employer.
- Describe your educational background. How is it relevant to the job?
- What is your employment/voluntary work background? How is your experience relevant to the desired job? What skills have you used in previous experiences that are relevant to your desired job?
- What are your career goals? How do they relate to this organisation?
- What are your personal skills and abilities? How do they relate to this job? What are specific examples of how you have used these skills?
- What initiatives have you taken?
- What contributions do you believe you can make to this organisation?
- What are your weaknesses? What steps are you taking to improve them?
- What additional information do you want the interviewer to know about you?
Researching an organisation can yield big dividends during an interview. Visit the organisation's website, read annual reports and recruiting brochures. Research can reveal problems or challenges the organisation is facing and can enable you to select in advance appropriate experiences you should describe in the interview. Learn what you can from your research, then weave the information you've gathered into the interview.
- Describe what you know about the organisation, and/or position. Why are you interested?
What type of interview will it be, location of the interview, how many people will be present, who are they and what are their roles in the organisation?
Face to face interviews
- Informal: both applicant and interviewer seated comfortably around a coffee table
- Formal: interviewers may be seated on one side of a table with the applicant on the other
- Individual: one-to-one
- Panel: there may be two to five interviewers present
- Group assessment centres. These may consist of psychometric tests, interviews, group discussions, case studies, role plays and presentations.
- Psychometric tests. These could include general ability tests (measuring problem solving and reasoning ability), aptitude tests (looking for specific job relevant skills), personality assessments (focussing on how you interact at work).
In a telephone interview the employer only has ears with which to judge you so there are a few tips to keep in mind.
- Put a smile on your face (it improves the timbre of your voice)
- Make sure it is quiet around you
- Talk normally and speak directly into the phone
- If you need to put the phone down, do it as gently as possible