Preparing for Interviews
You’ve filled in your application or sent your CV and now you have reached the interview stage. Over time I’ve had just about every kind of interview you can think of. You think you’re all prepared, and then something new and unexpected is thrown into the equation.
I had one interview that was dead straightforward, but it was so casual I felt slightly over-dressed. Still, it’s better to look too smart than too casual if you’re unsure. I was taken into a small room, asked a few pretty generic questions and was sent on my way.
Another one, which happened at a similar time, just dove right in at the deep end. I’d barely been greeted and sat down before the interviewer was thrusting a pen in my face, asking me to sell it to him. Needless to say shock and panic ensued and my response was simply “It’s a pen”. Yeah, I didn’t get that job.
Then there was the interview evening, where everyone being interviewed was in the same room at the same time, alternating who had to answer questions next. This was somehow more nerve-wracking than doing it alone and it meant spending ages just sat around waiting – not fun.
I’ve also had a long, activity-based interview where as well as being questioned, we had to give the job a go and work in teams to create something we could market. This was probably the weirdest yet, but certainly the most fun.
So, how do you prepare when you have no idea what the format will be? Well, there are some basic rules to follow for any situation:
- Dress professionally and appear confident, even if you’re not
- In most jobs, the employer is looking for a – Buzzword alert! – team player. Whether or not you like working with others, you do for the time-being. Even for solitary jobs that don’t involve service or the public, you will be expected to get along with colleagues
- Know about the company you’ve applied for – this can be hard when you’re sending CVs everywhere like crazy, but taking 10 minutes to just do a bit of background research that you can throw in to one of your answers will look impressive
- Keep your cool and try to stay level-headed
- Learn some key terms and phrases and drop them in, making any statement sound far more intelligent
- Every interview format will involve a one-on-one set of questions. The more jobs you go for, the easier these will become to answer as they follow the same concept. Sometimes, all you can do is learn from your mistakes
- If faced with scenarios and multiple choice options, go with the best-sounding one, even if it seems like a load of rubbish or is the opposite of what happens in practice. Usually, your chances depend heavily on how you answer such questions
- If asked to work in a team, make sure you contribute plenty of ideas, even if they’re stupid. The fact you are trying and making yourself heard might just be enough