Preparation is everything! If you do not prepare for the job interview, then you are planning to fail. Below are 7 simple tips that will help you prepare for an interview.
Tip# 1: Like Sherlock Holmes: Research on the Potential Employer Meticulously
A little detective work on your prospective employer will go a long way to making you well-versed about the organization. Read about the organization from their company website. In addition, check online for any news items on the organization and ensure you what you are reading is current. You cannot afford to go to an interview and you have no idea about a story on the organization that was extensively covered by the media last week!
You can also interact with the organizations staff prior to the interview (if possible). For instance, if you are attending an interview with a bank, a telecommunication company, an insurance company – what stops you from visiting any of their branches or making a call to their call center to make an enquiry? You may be amazed what you could learn through this interaction.
Tip#2: Your profile and the job advertised should be a match made in heaven
A marriage that is likely to be happy and successful because the two people are very compatible with each other. In the same way, your profile should be a perfect match with the Job Description (JD) in the job advert and you must prepare yourself to demonstrate this. For starters, your CV must be tailored to match the JD – so spend time reviewing and rephrasing your CV to ensure that it is appropriate. Avoid sending a CV that has not been customized.
As you prepare for the interview, review the (JD) for the job you have applied for critically. FOR EACH SPECIFICATION ON THE JD, WRITE DOWN how you meet the criteria using practical work experience examples. One of the FAQs from the interviewing panel is likely to be why you are suitable for the job – and it is not enough to say “your experience fits the job specification!” This exercise will assist you to be more specific and give relevant examples.
Tip#3: It pays to understand the industry
You will not only need to read about the organization but also the industry and this would include – competitor activities’, stakeholders’ activities and any regulatory issues facing the industry. This information can be obtained easily from the internet and other media platforms.
In 2012, I interviewed two candidates who had been shortlisted for a middle management position. One candidate was totally clueless about the then hotly debated Political Opinion Poll Bill. The other candidate was not only aware about the Bill but he even shared his opinion about its potential impact on the research industry. It was obvious to me who the “switched on” candidate was and the one that was offered the job.
Tip#4: Rehearse answers to FAQs for interviews
There are numerous sites online that have compiled FAQs for interviews. It is not enough to study them but it is also important to practice how to answer these questions aloud with a trusted friend or family member who has management experience. This process will improve your ability to answer interview questions.
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A few years ago, I worked with a young person to prepare for an interview by practicing the responses to FAQs. This young man had been through a lot of job interviews and was still jobless. In our first practice session, I discovered the young man had a habit of not completing his sentences, had poor eye contact and his voice was inaudible. It was clear to me why he was not successful at job interviews! I then took the role of his drill master and after 7 practice sessions he was ready to conquer the world. He passed the next interview and got the job.
Tip#5: Do not carry your documents in dog-eared envelopes
Carry 2-3 copies of your CV, the job advert to the interview in a neat plastic or leather folder. I still get tickled by the dog-eared brown envelopes that candidates carry along to interviews. Envelopes with grease marks, sweat marks and any other unimaginable marks that the candidates places on the table next to him/her throughout the interview. The dog-eared envelope and a very smartly dressed candidate is an interesting contrast. A nice plastic folder costs not more than Kshs 200 – invest in one or borrow one!
Tip#6: Sleep early and keep off the booze
Sleep early on the night before the interview – a good night sleep will ensure you are fresh and alert for the next days’ session. Do not drink any alcohol on the day before the interview – your mouth could emit pungent fumes that will put off the interviewing panel. It does not matter how well you brush your teeth, whether you chew mint, or use a strong mouth wash – it is difficult to disguise the smell of stale beer. The smell may be emitted from both the mouth and skin pores. Should the interviewing panel get a whiff of the odour, there is 200% chance that you will be struck off the short-list. I have had the unfortunate experience of interviewing a candidate whose breath smelled of stale beer and I dismissed his application without a second thought.
Tip#7: Look good and know your interview location
Plan in advance what you will wear for the interview; determine where offices are located and the transport options available. Plan to arrive at least 30 minutes before the interview. Traffic or poor weather are not an excuse for arriving late for a job interview. If you cannot make it for a job interview, how can the organization trust you to report to work on time or meet deadlines?
Maggie Ireri is the Director – Frontiers Sports EA, TIFA Research Ltd, Chairperson of Marketing Society of Kenya (MSK)