How to prepare for a job interview in 6 steps

Latest research suggests that more than 64% of UK professionals feel there’s not enough education out there around interview techniques.

Which is where we step in.

In this article, you will learn how to prepare for a job interview to ensure that you’re ready to provide a winning performance and seriously impress your potential employer. Take a look.

1. Research the company

Researching the company before you attend the interview is essential as it will prepare you to answer and ask those all-important questions.

You must set some time aside prior to the big day to discover as much as you possibly can about the company. We recommend visiting the company website, paying close attention to it’s ‘about us’, ‘products’ and ‘meet the team’ pages.

You should also check out its social media feeds and any other online literature which features it, such as news articles. That way, you’ll have a clearer idea of the company’s values, culture and achievements.

When researching the company, you should also consider familiarising yourself with its main competitors and trending topics in the industry. This will prove you’re a job hunter in the know and it’s likely to lead to more meaningful conversations with the interviewer.

2. Practise common interview questions

If you really want to give a winning performance in your upcoming interview, you need to ensure you devise and rehearse responses to potential interview questions.

Although you can’t predict exactly what will come up, some of the most common interview questions you may be asked include:

  • Tell me about yourself
  • What are your strengths?
  • What are your weaknesses?
  • Where do you see yourself in five years’ time?
  • Why are you leaving your current job?
  • Why should I hire you?

When preparing your answers, be sure to utilise the STAR method to ensure your response is strong. You should also bear the job description in mind and tailor your responses to the spec – after all, you’re trying to explain why you’re a good fit for that role.

Once you’ve got your answers all planned out, you could try conducting a mock interview with a friend or family member to see how you get on. Alternatively, you could record yourself reciting your answers to double check your delivery is just right – you don’t want to be too humble or too arrogant.

3. Prepare some questions to ask

An interview is a two-way conversation, so you also need to make sure you have some questions prepared to ask the interviewer at the end. Not only is asking questions the chance to find out a bit more about the job, but also the people you’ll be working with and the company culture.

Remember, while the interview is to see if you’re right for the company, it’s also your chance to see if it’s right for you.

Therefore, some questions you might find useful include:

  • What would my average work day look like?
  • What objectives would you expect me to meet in my first three months?
  • How will you judge my success in the role?
  • What can I expect from you in terms of development and support?
  • What do you like about working for this company?

Don’t feel you have to ask all these questions, but it’s definitely worth having a few on standby as they will highlight your enthusiasm for the role and help decide whether this job is for you.

4. Decide what to take with you

The next step in your interview preparation is deciding what to take with you.

We highly recommend taking the following with you to every job interview:

  • Job description – so you can easily refer to parts of the role
  • Your CV – so you can easily refer to your skills and experience
  • Pen and notepad – never be afraid to make notes from the conversation
  • Your questions for the interviewer
  • Interviewer contact details and directions to your interview – just in case public transport or your sat nav fails you

Some optional extras include:

  • References
  • Portfolio of work – perhaps including commendations, testimonials, awards and achievements
  • Laptop
  • Folder/briefcase

Remember that an interview isn’t a memory test (unless specifically stated) and that taking things to your interview to help your performance actually shows that you’re a prepared, proactive individual.


5. Select a professional outfit

It’s all very well being able to sound like a professional, but you need to look the part too.

Firstly, you need to find out what your interview dress code is. Most offices and corporate environments operate in traditional business attire. However, if the company you’re interviewing for is a little more creative, you can relax your wardrobe slightly.

That said, research says you’ve only got seven seconds to make a strong first impression, so if you’re ever not sure what to wear, the more professional the better. After all, you want to be remembered as a sophisticated, well-presented individual.

Planning your outfit ahead of time will save you unnecessary stress the morning of your interview. It also allows you time to buy new clothes if necessary – the last thing you want is to pull out the shirt you want to wear but be faced with a gargantuan stain down the front of it where you dribbled your tea.

For more in depth advice on selecting an appropriate interview outfit for 2017, check out this article.

6. Plan your journey and transport options

Lastly, you need to know where you’re going for your interview – ahead of time! Therefore, before the big day, make sure you find out specifically where your interview is, down to the tee.

This includes getting directions to the place of interview, working out which building you need to go to and double-checking where you need to park. If you’re relying on public transport, triple-check timetables and alternative routes just in case there are any unforeseen hiccups.

Ensure you leave in plenty of time, too. It might be worth doing a practice run a day or so before the interview. That way you’ll have a more realistic idea of where you’re going and how long it will take you.

Ultimately, if you do your research, practice questions and ensure you’ve got everything ready to go the night before, there’s no reason your interview can’t be a pleasant experience. It may seem like a lot to remember, but advance planning can help you feel confident and in control, and this will show in your interview responses.

For more interview tips and advice, check out this page.

About Laura Slingo

Laura Slingo is a writer, editor and digital marketing professional. She has penned hundreds of career and lifestyle articles for various sites and markets across the globe, including Salesforce and The Guardian. Connect with her on LinkedIn and Twitter.

Search Jobs