How to Prepare for Interview
Whether or not you already have an interview booked in, it is valuable to explore how to prepare. Here are some strategies and ideas to get you ready to be your best at interview. Remember, the purpose of an interview is for both parties (you and the employer) to get to know each other better, and to see if you might 'fit' the job.
Wouldn't it be nice if you were able to arrive on the day feeling confident, calm and focused?
Read on to find out how!
At interview is when you want to be shining out your best self. Often, that 'best' version of you is something which only people very close to you see. This is because when you are calm and comfortable, you are more confident in yourself. When you are relaxed, you can talk about yourself, and even handle difficult moments with greater ease.
Indeed, an interview is not like being at home in your pajamas- it is a professional sphere... but you can still bring some comfort into the space, and calm your nerves, allowing a clearer mind.
For many people, interviews can be extremely stressful. This is commonly due to a lack of preparation and/ or a lack of self-belief. We are exploring 'preparation' in this blog post, but this is not completely devoid of supporting self-belief and confidence. Being prepared for an interview will help promote self-belief, as will working with a therapist, taking time to reflect on your feelings, and becoming more experienced in 'the world of work'.
Preparation is a process of planning for an event. It requires a combination of organizational skills, creativity and knowledge. Here are some strategies that will help you get ready for your interview. Read all the points below, then plan the order of how you will achieve these.
Strategies for preparation:
1. Prepare your Professional Materials to take on the day, at least 3 days prior to the interview
Make sure you have a copy of all these essential professional materials and these resources with you on the day of the interview. Get these items ready before the day of the interview:
A copy of your resume (the same one you used to apply for this job)
A copy of the job advertisement (to remind you about the job)
Reference list and any reference letters you have
Samples of your work (if required- i.e. artists and web designers may consider this option)
Contact details of the employer and/ or HR person at the business that is interviewing you
Two pens that work and a notepad of blank paper
Get ready two or three questions to ask the employer (this will be easier after you have completed point 5, below)
2. Make your Take-Bag at least 3 days prior to the interview
A Take-Bag is the additional (small) bag that you bring with you on the day of the interview, as a contingency. Do not open this bag unless you absolutely have to. The concept of managing risk allows you to be prepared for what could go wrong, and then having remedied it ahead of time. By having a Take-Bag, you can calm your "what-ifs", reducing imagined-threats of anxiety on the day. Get this bag ready a number of days prior to the interview and remember to take it!!
Things to go in your Take-Bag:
A spare shirt or top. (use in case of sweating too much or spilling coffee on yourself, you can change your top before the interview - change in the bathroom.)
Pocket-pack of tissues. (use for blowing your nose, wiping your mouth, or cleaning a spill)
Lip balm. (use in case of dry lips)
Band aids/ plasters. (use in case of paper-cut)
Small antiperspirant deodorant. (use in case of overheating and sweating too much)
A plastic shopping bag. (use for wrapping materials if it rains, or sitting on the bag if you are stopping at a cafe or park bench before the interview - the bag will protect your pants/ skirt)
Small packet of salted potato chips or crackers. (use in case of light-headedness after the interview - if you need gluten-free or vegan, etc., make sure your snack meets your dietary requirements, but it must be a salty snack)
For women: Bring 1 spare sanitary towel/ pad and a pair of underpants. (use in case your period starts unexpectedly - change in the bathroom)
All these items will fit into an A5 to A4 sized bag. You can roll your shirt/ top to reduce space. Group the smaller items together and perhaps put them in a toiletries bag, and put all items into the larger bag.
3. Make sure you have Directions at least 2 days prior to the interview
Do you know EXACTLY where the interview is going to be held? How will you get there on the day? Will you take public transport, will you drive, or are you being driven there? It is *very* important to know the directions to getting to the interview.
Ideas to reduce stress:
Make sure to arrive 1 hour early (this accounts for unexpected travel problems, and will give you time to relax before the interview - see point 6, below)
Figure out the method of transport you will be taking to the interview. Check timetables thoroughly and/ or check traffic times on GoogleMaps to ensure you have the correct route and understand how long travel may take on your interview day.
Print out a map and step-by-step travel directions to take on the day (a printed copy is ideal because if you do not have internet or cannot access your mobile-phone map, you will still be able to get to the interview on time). You may also like to print photos of what the building entrance looks like or use your device to access photos (you can find these on the street-level of GoogleMaps)
You can also visit the location/ building the day before the interview, so that you know where it is. Even if this is a "drive by", it helps reduce stress if you have been to the location before.
4. Choose your clothes at least 1 day prior to the interview
Something that tends to stress me out on a daily basis is choosing what clothes to wear when I am due to be out in public. If I have not chosen clothes prior to the day of an event, it can upset me and I become overwhelmed, meltdown and/or lose function. It can take me a while to calm down and I feel supremely embarrassed. Thus, I have found a strategy that might help you as well: choose your clothes at least 1 day prior to the event.
Clothing choice for an interview can help calm you on the day. Certainly it is important to dress professionally, but of greater importance is that you are comfortable. If you HATE HATE HATE wearing business suits because they make you feel horrible, then don't wear a business suit to an interview! You can wear nice plain pants and a button-down shirt, or, for fem-identifying individuals, you can choose to wear a skirt or long dress-top over tights. Try to keep your colours muted and wear gentle-aromas (avoid strong smelling perfumes or cologne).
Essentially, the rule is: wear clothing that fits you well (is not too tight or too loose) is clean (has been washed!), neat (not torn or ripped), and suits the job role.
Before the interview, it is good practice to try on your clothing choice, and look in the mirror to critique it. Choose two selections of complete sets of clothing (we mean to choose everything that you will be wearing, i.e.: coat, top/ shirt, pants, underpants, socks, shoes, bags, accessories) based on possible weather.
1) A cold-day clothing selection (=a day that you want to put more layers on)
2) A warm-day clothing selection (=a day that you want to take layers off)
You will know the kind of weather in your home location. So, make sure to choose two full sets of clothing and lay them out on your bed or kitchen table. On the day of the interview, you can check the weather (look outside or consult your device) and choose the cold-day OR warm-day clothing selection, and get dressed knowing you are prepared for that weather.
5. Know the business, the role and you, at least 1 day prior to the interview
You have applied for this job, so it is likely that you will know something about it -- right??? The employer will expect that you understand a little about them, and will probably ask you to tell them this on the day... so do a little bit of research. You do not need to know whether the business had a recent merger or the contents of their annual report (unless you are going for an upper management role!), but it will be helpful if you know these points:
Know the business:
What industry is the business in?
What is the business well-known for? And, are they a top service provider or have they won any awards in their field?
Does the business have any social media accounts? What sorts of things are they talking about on there - what is important to them?
Does the business have any social change or advocacy policies, outreach or programs? If they do, make sure you understand their motivations and mission around this area.
Know the role:
What is the role that job have applied for? What kinds of things does that person do? (Do more extensive reading than the job advertisement)
When you read about the business and the role, reflect on you. Think about how you can fit into the business and the role (what skills can you contribute? how will you be a part of this? where might you excel, and where might you have difficulty? do you think this is the right job for you?)
When, on the day, they ask you to "tell us what you know about the business/ role", then you can share your reflections with greater ease.
6. On the day of the interview, arrive 1 hour early and relax at a cafe nearby
It is extremely beneficial to arrive early.... and even more so to arrive early and relax in a nearby cafe with a beverage. It is perfect if the cafe overlooks the building or location where the interview is being held, as this gives you a chance to watch people enter and exit, see what they are wearing, and see how they hold themselves. If your cafe is a short walk from the building or location of the interview, make a note of how long it will take to walk to the interview location from the cafe, so you can relax there without worry of being late.
By arriving early and sitting down at a cafe, you can enjoy a beverage (non-alcoholic!) and rehearse your interview questions and answers, think about the role, and find a space of calm.
These tips and strategies should help you along! All the best!! :)