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Fail to prepare, prepare to fail. When it comes to interviews, no truer words have been spoken. But there are also many other aspects to ensuring that you are coming across as best as you can during an interview. Here are some tips on how best to prepare and make the right first impression.

Preparation

Being ready for the interview will help with your confidence. Showing that you are knowledgeable about the available role, and the company itself, will help you demonstrate how your skills and experience make you a perfect fit for the opportunity.

  • Research the company and their market. Identify the company's culture, their key products and services and their unique selling points. What are their target markets and competitors?

  • Study the role profile in detail and find examples of your skills and experience that match each point within the job specification.

  • Think of the different skills and behaviours that this specific role will need for someone to succeed and how they relate to you.

  • Prepare a number of questions that you can ask to help reinforce your interest, such as "What is the organisation structure?", "How close will I work with other teams?" and "What systems will be used?".

  • Make sure you know who will be interviewing you and that you understand the format of the interview. Knowing the logistics of the interview will ensure there are no surprises.

  • Search for recent relevant news stories, reports, magazines and journals that can help show you are aware of recent events and trends in the market.

  • Consider if you know someone who currently works there or has previously worked at the organisation, as they might be able to provide some useful information on the culture.

Questions

There are numerous standard interview questions that you may be asked, so make sure you have thought carefully about clear and concise answers. These could include:

  • "Why do you want to work for us?"

  • "Why should we employ you?"

  • "What are your strengths and weaknesses?"

  • "What is the biggest problem you have faced and how did you overcome it?"

  • "What is your greatest achievement to date?"

First impressions

In an interview you have a very short amount of time to impress someone, so first impressions are important!

  • Arrive 10 minutes early to show that you are organised and to give you some time to get used to the surroundings before the interview begins.

  • Dress appropriately and smartly. If you have secured the interview via a Recruiter, you can confirm with them how formal you should dress.

  • Try to maintain eye contact and be an active listener from the start. Smile, be positive, and show that you are completely engaged, interested and happy to have been invited to talk to them.

Sell yourself

Try to come across as confident and passionate. You should be able to discuss the following in detail, whilst always trying to show that you are the perfect Candidate for the role:

  • Your background, including your employment and education history 

  • The key responsibilities and achievements in your current role

  • Your skills and strengths

  • Your career ambitions

Be yourself

Interviewers want to see that not only can you do the tasks which make up the role, but also work well with others, so let your personality come through.

Stay professional, but also open and approachable - it may just give the edge over equally qualified Candidates who may not have the desired personality fit.

Closing the interview

Use the end of the interview as an opportunity to highlight your enthusiasm for the role and that you are looking forward to hearing back from them. Finally, don't be afraid to ask relevant and interesting questions!

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