No matter how many times you do it, preparing for an interview can be nerve-wracking.
Will you impress the interviewer? What if you embarrass yourself?
There are certain ways to avoid looking a like fool during your interview. And by preparing in the days leading up to it, you can calm your nerves and feel more ready to show the employer what you’re made of.
So, wondering how to prepare for a job interview?
If you’re a ball of nerves or simply unsure about what to do before the big day, first of all: breathe. And before slipping on your professional shoes, consider these 10 tips – they're bound to help make the interview process a piece of cake!
1. Research the Company
Get to know the company before you go to an interview. Research their website, especially the ‘About Us’ page, and check out their social media to learn a bit about their ‘personality’. Company research can help you prepare for questions, and it can help you determine the company culture. Another suggestion is to scan the internet for reviews about the organisation; this can help you get an idea about its services and staff.
2. Study Your CV
During your interview, you’ll probably be interrogated about your skills. You won’t have your CV in front of you at the time, so make sure to learn it inside out before stepping into the employer’s office. Make a mental memory of your skills, experience and key accomplishments and get ready to recite them – without sounding too mechanical, of course.
3. Practise Interviewing
Once you have a general understanding of the job role and the company you’re applying for, it will be time for some role play. As silly as it sounds, practising interviews can be a helpful step when getting ready for the big day. You can do so with a friend or family member, or you can do it alone in the mirror. This will help you calm those nerves and best prepare for any questions.
Review common job interview questions (particularly for the role you’re applying for, and read out your answer as though you were actually in the interview. This will come in handy on the day as you would already have played out the scenario earlier on!
4. Look up the Location
Thanks to Google Maps, it’s never been easier to find locations. A few days before your interview, try to locate the office building so that you’re well prepared during your car journey on the day. A useful tip is to visit the location one day prior so that you don’t end up running late on the day. This can help you determine the ideal route to get there, any traffic and, most importantly, parking space.
You don’t want to be driving round and round the block five minutes before your interview, after all. Find a parking spot beforehand so you can arrive to your interview according to the right schedule.
5. Know What to Bring
Job interview preparation also means packing your bag with the interview essentials. One day prior to your interview, complete a checklist of everything to take with you. And no, this doesn’t mean your phone, your lipstick or a snack (I mean, take a snack, but eat it in the car!). I’m talking a few copies of your CV, a folder with your work or portfolio (if required) and perhaps a few references if you have any. It’s always a good idea to have a notepad and pen with you in case you need to jot down important information. Some form of identity might also be required, so whether it’s an ID card or driver’s licence, you’re good to go.
6. Prepare Your Outfit
Knowing how to dress for an interview is pivotal in giving off a good impression to your potential employer. On the evening before the big day, choose the appropriate outfit so that you’re not scrambling through your wardrobe one hour before it’s time for your interview.
There is a particular dress code when it comes to interviews, so be sure to throw on the right outfit before heading out. When it comes to men, the ideal outfit choice would include a suit with long sleeved shirt, a belt and tie, and smart shoes. For women, a trouser suit, pencil skirt or knee-length dress coupled with a matching blouse and delicate heels or smart pumps will do the trick.
To complete the formal look and come off as professional, women should opt for minimal makeup and a professional bag (men, too).
7. Get Enough Sleep
No matter how much makeup or facial cream, you can always tell when someone’s had a rough night. Avoid giving off that impression to your potential employer by making sure you get enough sleep the night before your interview. Eight hours of shuteye is the recommended amount if you want to feel and look refreshed the next day. Remember: getting enough sleep improves cognitive performance, your focus and your ability to handle stressful situations.
But what if you can’t sleep simply due to nerves or an overworked mind? That brings us to our next point…
8. Wind Down Before Bed
Sleep is crucial when wanting to give off a good impression during the interview. If you’re one to suffer from insomnia or someone whose mind just won’t switch off at night (especially before a big day), there are ways to encourage that beauty sleep.
- Have a bath. Not only will a bath leave you feeling refreshed and revitalised, but it will also help you sleep that night.
- Have caffeine-free tea. Choose teas that decrease anxiety and help you relax, like chamomile.
- Dim the lights. Too much light can make it harder to fall asleep. Dim them low when preparing for bed to help your body and mind unwind.
- Watch TV. For some people, watching TV is a distraction before bed. Others, however, find that it helps their minds relax and switch off.
9. Have a Healthy Breakfast
Fill yourself with fuel by having a power breakfast on the morning of your interview. Healthy foods that include protein, unsaturated fats and nutritious carbohydrates will boost your energy and keep you replenished during the interview. As yummy as they are, avoid fry-ups, cakes and biscuits, and instead fill your tummy with foods like:
- brown bread
- boiled or scrambled eggs
- tomatoes, cucumbers or any other vegetable
- bananas, apples or any other fruit.
A healthy and filling breakfast will help you keep focused, sustain your energy and keep your mind free from stress during the interview.
10. Keep Your Mind off It
There’s no use stressing over the interview from the moment you wake up. After you’ve practised in the mirror and read over your CV (hopefully multiple times), give yourself a break by distracting your thoughts. One of the best ways to prepare yourself mentally is to go for a coffee (either alone or with friends), turn up the music in the car, read a book or scroll through your social media. These tactics will free your mind from any stress and prevent you from overthinking the interview ahead. It’s essential that you’re calm on the day, so before making your way down there, distract yourself with a hobby.
Whether it’s practising your Q&A in the mirror or eating a healthy breakfast, there are clearly several ways to help be ready for an interview. While you can never be 100% sure what to expect on the day, this guide will give you a head start on being in the right mindset.
What are your tips on how to best prepare for an interview? Let us know in the comments section below!