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Interview Preparation

In many ways the preparation for an interview is just as important as the interview itself. It can make the difference in helping you stay calm, poised and appearing confident.

There are 3 main areas of interview preparation. Follow the links for hints and tips to help you prepare like a pro and ace that interview.

Research

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Doing your research before attending an interview is key to being as prepared as you can be. Research includes things like making sure you find out what you can about the role and the company before the interview so you can ask more in-depth, intelligent questions.

It also includes basic things like checking your travel options and ensuring you get there on time.

The following is a list of things we recommend researching before your interview.

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The role

Carefully read through all of the information given to you about the role, what it entails and what the key responsibilities are. You can use this to form questions to ask at interview, and to construct answers to questions you are likely to be asked regarding your previous experience and how it relates. If the role you are interviewing for is different than what you have done before you can also search online for general information about what might be expected.

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The company

Be sure to check out the company website and LinkedIn page and find out as much as you can about the organisation. You are likely to be asked what you know about the company, so take a few notes and memorise some of the key information including what they do, any products or services, how big they are, where they are based etc. You can also use this opportunity to list any questions you might like to ask about the company (though make sure you can't find the answer online first).

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The market

Often an area many forget to look into but researching the sector and wider market the company operates within can prove extremely advantageous. Have there been any recent changes or challenges within the industry? These are all good things to know and can form part of any questions you may have at the end of the interview.

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The competitors

No matter what role you’re applying for, showing you have an understanding of their direct competitors will stand you in good stead - and LinkedIn is a great place to start. Not sure who they are? Head to the company’s own LinkedIn page and scroll down to the “Other companies people viewed” section, many of their key competitors can be found in here. Choose three of their biggest competitors, taking steps to build a picture of how they position themselves, their target market and their most successful product offering.

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The interviewers

In some cases, this can prove tricky however finding out who is going to be interviewing you might just give you that all important edge.’ Your recruitment consultant should be able to tell you this information and those that have met them before may even be able to tell you what they’re like as a person, their position within the company, what they’re looking for in an interviewee – all valuable info to help you pitch yourself as the ideal candidate. Looking them up on LinkedIn and Twitter may even give you an insight into what they’re like as a person, do you share any common interests? Even if you can’t find this kind of detail out, it’s amazing how quickly you can build a rapport with someone simply by making small talk about something as generic as the weather.

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Your journey

You’ve read up on the company, their competitors and every potential question imaginable but have you looked into how you plan to get there? Failing to research this particular detail can cause you no end of unnecessary bother so to cut out any added stress on the day simply save the address in your phone, map out your journey, and aim to arrive ten minutes early. Check the route for any potential road works or strikes which may affect your travel time and even complete a dry run if possible . Knowing exactly where your interview will take place and the best way to get there, is a sure fire way to help combat those nerves.

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The dress code

What you wear in an interview can say a lot about you as a potential employee so it’s worth taking the time to pre-plan your attire. A well fitted suit is a timeless favourite and will ensure you look and feel smart on the day. You want to look professional and feel comfortable - so make sure you try your interview outfit on at least a few days before to check it still fits and doesn’t require any last minute dry cleaning or adjustments. As a general rule, opt for dark and neutral tones, adding a splash of colour where appropriate - leaving outlandish bold patterns, over-the-top accessories and comedy ties firmly outside the interview room .

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The weather

This might sound trivial but it’s always worth checking the weather to make sure that short stroll to the tube station doesn’t leave you looking like you’ve decided to swim to the interview instead. If there’s a chance of rain – make sure you wear the right shoes, bring a jacket and brolly and leave earlier to prevent any traffic hold ups causing you to run later than planned.

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For more advice on preparing for a second interview see our blog.

Once you have done all your research you will be well on your way to being ready for your interview. We would also recommend doing some in-depth preparation and practice for what you will say and how you will say it. Follow the links for further advice.

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Prepare

Pre-interview nerves affect us all, but taking some time to prepare in the run up to the interview is a sure-fire way to help alleviate any unnecessary anxiousness and get you geared up to bag that job.

Click on the image to reveal some tips to help you improve your performance at interview.

Practice

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According to Princeton university you have just a tenth of a second to impress the interviewer - practicing how you’re perceived has never been more important.

Just by rehearsing at home, asking a friend to run through some practice questions with you and trying some practice assessments online you will be able to walk into your interview with more confidence.

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In the mirror

Practicing answering questions and running through your presentation in the mirror is a great way to help you assess your posture, eye contact and body language. Through repetition and hearing out loud what you are saying you will become more comfortable and confident with what you want to say. This preparation will mean it's less likely that you will stumble on your words in the actual interview.

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Role Play

Ask a friend or family member to help you carry out a mock-interview and ask them for constructive feedback on how you answered their questions. Similarly if you have a video camera, record yourself. This way you can play it back and pick out areas for improvement. Are you confident in your responses? Do you fidget? Once spotted, these are all things that can be easily rectified.

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Get help from your recruitment agency

As a job seeker, one of the benefits of partnering with a recruitment agency is they can give you added insight into a role and company that ordinarily you might not get access to if you were to apply for a role yourself.

Make sure you use this to your advantage. In many cases your consultant may have spoken directly with the hiring manager you’ll be interviewing with and have a handle on the culture of the organisation. Be sure to use your agency to help your prepare, and practice your responses accordingly.

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Online assessments

It’s not uncommon for companies to use online assessments during the interview process, to help them establish your suitability for the position and the company overall. Online assessments come in many shapes and forms, but they are not the sort of thing you can you can get wrong or right. They are designed to highlight some of your key characteristics, strengths and weaknesses. So you can take online practice assessments so you have more idea what they are like. Find out more in our blog on how to prepare for online assessments.

Read blog

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Find out more about advice for the interview and what to do after the interview by following the links.

What to do at the interview What to after the interview

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