You have been shortlisted for interview, so how should you prepare?

For many job seekers being invited to attend an interview is exciting and stressful at the same time. After the initial joy of finding out you’ve been shortlisted comes the realisation that you now need to shine.  You’ve provided a snapshot of your background and experience in your resume, but this is your opportunity to expand on that and tell your story in more detail. Preparation is the key.

Being properly prepared shows your level of commitment.

There is a lot of research you can do ahead of an interview and the more you do the better prepared you will be. In order to get to interview stage you have probably already spent some time reading about the organisation and its people. Revisit this information and go further to ensure you understand what they are about, including their history, culture, structure and financial performance. Research the background and roles of the interviewer(s), the leadership team and any other relevant influencers or decision makers. 

If you know someone working there, and it’s appropriate, get in touch to ask them for their insights. Familiarise yourself with external stakeholders or significant competitors relevant to the role and understand any external factors or recent news, that might be impacting the sector. 

Take the time to thoroughly review the position description (ask for a copy if you don’t have one)  and be clear how well your skills and background match the key criteria. If there are gaps, and you know you are going to have to sell your ability to upskill or seek further development in the job, think about how you will talk through this. 

Tell your career story.

At Blue Sky we talk a lot about how we love to hear people’s stories, and we genuinely do. Keep in mind however that an interview is your opportunity to tell your career story and you should stay focused on this. Its natural your discussion might include some personal experiences, and there is nothing wrong with giving some insight into your outside interests and influences, but don’t overdo it! 

Listen carefully to the questions and think about what it is the interviewer is trying to explore.  Its OK to take a few seconds to form your response in your mind before answering, and it’s also OK to ask for the question to be repeated if you need clarification. 

Competency based questions are commonly used, and it is important you are prepared for these. They require you to be able to describe a situation or provide an example of when and how you tackled a task, challenge or scenario in previous roles. You will find hundreds of examples online, some of which are specifically targeted to industry sector or job title. Think about your past job roles and how they relate to the role you are interviewing for and have some relevant examples that best showcase your abilities and accomplishments in mind. 

Sell yourself - it’s not bragging!

Interviews require you to talk about yourself, and some people find this difficult. Try not to think of it as bragging, but rather enjoy the opportunity to share your achievements with someone who wants to listen to them!  It is important to show a level of confidence in yourself and your abilities and ensure your career story is told. You should also show that you’ve taken the time to prepare, by having your own list of questions ready. Even if throughout the course of the interview some or all of them have been answered, explain that you spent time researching and thank the interviewer for covering the key points you wanted to explore.

Presentation and showing a level of professionalism is important.

The impression you give on arrival will set the scene. It’s natural for the interviewer(s) to visualise you within their organisation, talking to their customers and working alongside the existing team. If they can’t see this, you might be at a disadvantage from the outset. Dress appropriately for the working environment you are applying for, be punctual and remember to switch off your phone. Start and finish with a smile and remember that even if this one doesn’t go your way; you can take some valuable lessons from the experience and look ahead to the next opportunity.