How to do well in an interview: tips to help you prepare

Updated 6 February 2023

The interview stage is an important aspect of the recruiting process for most professions. It's an opportunity for a prospective employer or interviewer to discover more about you as an applicant and an opportunity for you to share additional information about your experiences and talents. The chances of you securing the job are typically much higher if you do well in the interview. In this article, we discuss what the purpose of an interview is, how to do well in an interview for a job you're interested in and how to prepare for one.

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What is the purpose of an interview?

An interview is a discussion between a prospective employer or hiring manager and someone who's applied for a job opening. Candidates demonstrate their qualifications during interviews, and recruiters can assess which candidate seems best for the job. An interviewer asks questions to learn more about your talents, skill set, background, career, personality and beliefs so that they can offer you a job with confidence. While some companies conduct just one interview to make this decision, others conduct multiple screenings as part of their recruitment process, including group interviews to allow current employees to give input on the prospective candidates.

Related: 12 important interview skills and how to improve them

How to do well in an interview

Even if you've been interviewed numerous times before, you can still benefit from researching how to do well in an interview. Each job interview is an opportunity to meet new people and promote yourself and your talents. Having a positive attitude and showing enthusiasm throughout is essential, as this demonstrates your willingness to work. This might be difficult, especially if you're applying for a position you're unsure about. There are certain techniques for making a job interview less frightening, including:

1. Arrive at the interview on time

Arrive at the interview five to ten minutes ahead of schedule. Travel to the interview site ahead of time if necessary, so you know precisely where you're going and how long it might take you to get there. Consider the timing of your interview so that you can plan for local traffic conditions if appropriate. Allow yourself a few additional minutes to use the restroom, double-check your wardrobe and relax your nerves.

2. Dress professionally

Dress appropriately for the job you're applying for so the prospective employer sees that you're passionate about the work and can show the professionalism required to succeed. While business clothing is normally encouraged, you may want to dress differently if the prospective employer or HR professional at the organisation you're interviewing with encourages it. For instance, if you're interviewing for a videographer position at a skateboard business, the individual who schedules the interview may advise you to dress casually due to the relaxed atmosphere.

3. Pause before answering

Since the interview stage is frequently the final step in the recruitment process, it's permissible and even recommended to consider your responses before answering. This assists you in planning what you want to say and how you might express it in a logical manner. It also ensures that you answer any questions in full. Furthermore, pausing to consider your response indicates to the interviewer that you're concerned about your answer and want to make sure it's sincere, correct and demonstrates your suitability as a candidate.

4. Be assertive

Some normally outspoken candidates become too passive during job interviews in an effort to appear more courteous. Respect doesn't necessarily imply passivity. Don't make the error of merely expecting the interviewer to bring up your achievements. It's your obligation to ensure that they understand your major selling points.

5. Speak about your experiences positively

Even if you disliked your former job or had a bad experience, don't bring it up during the interview. Determine how you might reflect on the positive parts of the job and what you learned throughout your time there. Although it's critical to remain truthful when responding to interview questions, try to structure your response in a way that demonstrates you have a positive mindset and that you can grow from and enjoy any work scenario.

Related: Answering: 'what are you looking for in a job?'

6. Remain honest

Maintaining honesty throughout your interview remains one of the best ways of impressing a prospective employer. Ensure that you portray yourself based on what the hiring manager has evaluated about you and your expertise. Your CV likely includes some documentation about your employment history, so try to present yourself in a way that's consistent with this. When you're honest and transparent about your talents and prior responsibilities, it's easier to communicate with the recruiter and give instances to back up your credentials.

Related: Interviewing techniques and tips to make a great impression

How to prepare for a job interview

When you go to a job interview, your priorities are to make a fantastic first impression in terms of appearance and have a thorough understanding of your target organisation. It's also useful to know how to explain why you're the best candidate for the position. Prepare for a job interview by doing the following:

1. Practise for the interview

Review the most common job interview questions and practise your responses. Strong responses remain precise yet succinct, relying on real examples to demonstrate your abilities and support your CV. Try to highlight any of your talents that are significant to the company and appear relevant to the job. After reading the job description, make a list of the prerequisites and compare them to your skills. While it's critical to prepare yourself with the best responses, it's also necessary to pay attention throughout your interview so that your response supplies the information that the interviewer wants.

Related: How To Prepare for Your Second Interview

2. Research the organisation

Always research the organisation and its sector before attending a job interview, and make sure you can demonstrate this knowledge when appropriate. Accomplish this by incorporating what you've learned about the business into your answers. One effective strategy is to use the organisation's website to learn about its history, purpose, ethics, people, environment and recent achievements.

For example, you may say: 'Last year, I noted that your client satisfaction scores surged when you installed a new software platform. Due to my experience in designing software, I'm well-versed in the newest technologies and appreciate a business that aims to become a pioneer in its field.'

3. Familiarise yourself with your CV

The interviewer most likely asks questions centred on what they've noticed on your CV. Examine your CV once more before your interview to refresh your memory on what you included in it. It's easy to overlook your successes and not emphasise them during interviews, especially if you have a long work history or a former position with a lot of responsibility. Emphasise the most important successes you've had that pertain to the position you're applying for by going over the structure of your CV again.

4. Prepare questions for the interviewer

At the end of your interview, it's common for recruiters to ask whether you have any queries for them. Prepare questions to ask centred on your interview experience or any information given to you by the recruiting manager. Preparing a question in advance helps demonstrate your interest in the company.

Related: Prepare for an Interview with the CEO

5. Be prepared ahead of time

Try not to put off choosing an interview wardrobe, printing additional copies of your CV or finding a notebook until the last minute. Prepare at least one smart interview outfit ahead of time, so you're able to go to the interview on a tight deadline and not stress about how to dress. Preparing everything in advance helps you save time in the morning by forcing you to make set decisions, from what footwear you might wear to what time you plan on leaving. It also helps you minimise any anxiety, allowing you to focus properly on your interview.

Related: A guide on how to ace an interview (with tips and examples)

What to take to a job interview

The main items to take to a job interview include a portfolio with additional copies of your CV, a list of recommendations, a list of relevant questions for the recruiter and something to make notes on. If the recruiter has requested that you bring any other items, ensure you prioritise them. It's also essential to know what not to take with you, such as chewing gum or any litter you might have generated throughout the day. Remember to turn your phone to silent and don't have it out during the interview.

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