Preparation and Knowledge Gathering for an Interview

16 January 2016 Agnes Villanyi

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Preparation and Knowledge Gathering for an Interview 

Interview preparation is one of the key contributors to your success when interviewing for a new role. It provides you with a strong level of understanding about the organisation you are interviewing with, as well as the role you have applied for and the interviewers themselves.

At Parity, we believe that you should dedicate at least 3 hours to the preparation for any interview and that this preparation needs to be tailored to the role you are hoping to secure. 

In this article, we'll take you step-by-step through this process and show you how to prepare for your next interview and put your best foot forward!

1. Research the organisation thoroughly

You can learn more about the position from your specialist recruitment consultant, and the work culture by researching the organisation and speaking to your network. To have a complete picture of the company, gather data from the following sources:

  • Read the company’s annual reports

  • Review the company website

  • Source and read the Product Disclosure Statement

  • Understand the organisation’s products and services, size, locations, financial situation and growth potential

  • Research the different channels of distribution for your product – and if appropriate, review the user experience of your product via applying online for the product.

  • Reach out to existing employers that you know to discuss the organisation’s culture and vision

  • Research the organisation via LinkedIn

2. Research the Interviewers

Whilst this may be more difficult to do, it is important to get a sense of who the interviewers are (this is also something your specialist consultant can assist you with). You can do a few things to research them: 

  • Review your interviewer's LinkedIn profile;

  • Speak to people in your network;

  • If appropriate, google your interviewer for news and their profile in the market;

  • Work with a specialist recruitment consultant who can assist you in this area.

3. Know your CV and experience

  • Spend time reviewing your resume – refresh your memory on the details of present/ past employers, your work history, projects and achievements for each. 

  • Review your experience/skills and their relevance to the position you are looking to secure. Identify the specific examples in your background that are directly relevant to the position description and demonstrate your ability to do the job.

  • You should also take a copy of your resume and portfolio while going for an interview. Sometimes an interviewer can ask for a hard copy and having them arranged in a proper folder is a win-win situation. 

4. Practice answering potential interview questions

Preparing for an interview by role-playing potential questions/answers is also a valuable exercise. 

By doing this with a trusted colleague or friend, they can also give you tips on how to improve your answers.

5. What to wear to an interview

Now, you need to decide on your attire for the big day - remember first impressions count! 

Don’t leave your outfit choice to the morning of your interview. The likelihood is, you will open your wardrobe only to discover the shirt you were going to wear has a stain on it, your pants no longer fit and the blazer/jacket you were going to wear is still at the dry cleaners! Planning your outfit in advance is key!

Tailor the look for the role and company you are applying for. Gone are the days when a two-piece matching suit is mandatory to wear for a job interview, although if this is a look you feel more comfortable with then go for it. The most important thing is to be the best-dressed version of yourself. 

 Women dressing for an interview can choose a skirt, pants or dress with a nice jacket; men can opt for dress pants /chinos and a shirt with a blazer. This, of course, depends on how formal the workplace is and the role you are applying for. Be aware that some industries including financial services are more formal than others.

For more help on how to dress for an upcoming interview, read on here as Senior Consultant (and personal stylist), Laura King shares her tips!

6. Tips on how to answer the 5 most common interview questions

Here we have shared some job interview tips that can help you to answer major competency-based interview questions. Let’s take a look at some of them:

Q: What prompted/motivated you to apply for this job?

  • Focus on emphasising the match between your skills/ experience and the operations/ culture of the company you are applying to.

  • Be honest and upfront about your motivations, while explaining why you are passionate about the role (this honesty will shine through in your answer and will impress).

  • Demonstrate your understanding of the company and have good reasons for wanting to work there – this will show that you’ve researched the company thoroughly.

Q: Why are you the best person for this job?

  • Bearing in mind the specific requirements of the role, emphasise what you can offer to your potential employer, rather than what they can do for you.

  • Choose 2-3 of your most unique qualities that you think sets you apart from other candidates and use them as compelling reasons to employ you.

Q: Why did you leave your previous role (or why are you looking to leave your current role)?

  • Whatever your reasons for leaving your last job, do not talk negatively about your previous/current employer as it can appear unprofessional and disloyal.

  • Focus on your future, and ensure you sound positive and optimistic as you elaborate on your chosen career goals.

 Q: What would you describe as your key strengths?

  • There’s no point talking about strengths that aren’t actually relevant to the role in question – focus on the skills your potential employer is looking for (i.e. from the job description), and then select the most relevant from your list of strengths to illustrate your strong suitability for the role.

  • Elaborate on your chosen strengths and demonstrate their importance by using real examples from your past experience (make sure you highlight the actual benefits of each strength in ways that are relevant to the employer).

 Q: What would you describe as your main weaknesses?

  • It is one of the tricky job interview questions, but presenting some of your areas of development – obviously not ones that will greatly impact your ability to do the job – is the best tactic for answering this question.

  • Alternatively, mention areas that you were once a development area, but which you’ve been working on improving (successfully).

  • You could also mention tasks you know are a part of the role you’re applying for, which you’d like some further training or support with – for example, technology. If you can be honest and ask for help where you feel you need it, this demonstrates that you’re keen to continually learn and improve yourself.

  • With any weakness, you mention, emphasise your awareness, willingness, and efforts to improve.

7. Be Prepared to ask some questions of the interviewers (ie Do you have any questions?)

By being prepared with questions about the company, role, or team, it shows that you are genuinely interested in the opportunity. Many of your questions may well be answered during the interview itself, however, be prepared with a number of questions so that you are not left short.

The importance of formulating your own questions for an interview cannot be emphasised enough! They are a key tool to help you better understand the organisation, the role in question, and the priorities of the hiring manager in relation to the role. The right questions will help you get a better perspective on the suitability of the role and engage your interviewers with your proactive interest in employment with them. Our guide will give you some examples of questions you can ask at your next job interview.

8. Try to stress less and control your breathing 

It's normal to be nervous when you're interviewing for a new job, but if your nerves are making it impossible for you to focus on the interviewer's questions or even remember what they are after they've asked one, then it can be helpful to try some calming techniques before and during the interview.

Before the Interview:

  • Get a good night's sleep so that you feel rested and refreshed!

  • Eat a healthy breakfast so that your body has enough energy to get through the day without crashing!

  • Maybe even look into practising some power poses to give you some extra confidence.  See more about power poses here.

During the Interview:

  • Breathe slowly in through your nose and out through your mouth. This helps calm down your body and mind by bringing oxygen into your lungs, which in turn helps lower blood pressure and reduce anxiety.

For more on how to prepare for an interview, download our complete interview guide, or get in contact with one of our Specialist Recruitment Consultants to assist you with your next Product Management, Pricing & Actuarial, Digital, Marketing & Communications or Data & Analytics opportunity on 02 8068 2016 or 03 9923 8081.