You must have read hundreds of pieces of advice how to be successful at the interview, how to answer each question, impress the recruiters and land the dream job. However, there is one important thing you should bear in mind.
A successful interview starts long before you enter the room with interviewers, take your place across them and start answering questions.
No one has ever come spontaneously from the street, entered the room with interviewers, impressed them and got the job - no matter how smart, capable, or confident they are (except Mike Ross - go Suits fans!).
If someone tells you he or she got a job without a second of preparation, they are lying.
Successful interviews require preparation - a thorough one. It's a fact.
The more you give, the more you get.
The more you prepare, the more you will stand out among other candidates and the better the chances of you getting a job will be.
Simple as that.
Follow this simple timeline to prepare yourself and ace the next interview they invite you to.
24 HOURS BEFORE THE INTERVIEW
Go through the job description, explore the company and tailor your answers
You want to present yourself as a professional, knowledgeable and highly motivated candidate.
The easiest way to do so is to prepare yourself in advance by re-reading job description and available information about the company.
Focus on information relevant to your area of expertise (e.g. recent marketing campaigns, financial reports, or information about their social activity).
One of the first questions you'll hear will be:
If you prepare yourself well and include the specific information about the company and the role to make it obvious that you have done your research, you will be on the right path to securing the job of your dreams.
Additionally, try to predict competency-based questions they might ask you.
Prepare answers and examples. Structure them by using the STAR technique.
Practice your answers in front of the mirror
You want to be confident in front of the interviewers.
Considering the fact that nonverbal communication affects 80 per cent of the image we leave, while verbal communication affects the rest - the best way to do it is to practice your answers in front of the mirror to become aware of your body language.
It is obvious that body language plays a key role during the interview.
If your body language is not aligned with the content of your answers, you will not win interviewers over, no matter how perfect your answers are.
So - get rid of nervous smiling, leg shaking, or arms crossed on your chest.
Also, pay attention to the tone of your voice and the speed of talking – talking too fast may leave an impression you are trying to hide something, while taking too slow may put interviewers to sleep.
12 HOURS BEFORE THE INTERVIEW
Prepare your winning outfit
There is no need to overdo it. You are not going to a fashion runway.
Prepare a classic white shirt, pants or skirt, and nice tidy shoes.
Don’t forget to iron your clothes.
Be aware of the materials you choose – avoid materials that are easily folded or those in which sweat stains are too visible (unfortunately – we have seen them too many times – waaay too many).
Try on your outfit.
You don’t want to get caught by surprise tomorrow when you get dressed and notice a hole in the back of your shirt or a broken zipper on your pants.
Groom yourself to boost your self-confidence
Do your own small thing that boosts your confidence in seconds.
Style your hair differently, prepare your favourite perfume, your lucky piece of jewellery or contact lenses instead of glasses.
Small things like this can make you feel better and more confident instantly, thus they can have a huge impact on your interview performance.
Prepare the route
Check the address of the location where the interview is going to be conducted.
Check how you will get there and how much time you need.
Add 15-20 minutes to that, just in case to prevent being late to the interview.
If you are going by car, explore parking lots around the place too.
If you have followed all the previous steps, there is no need to bang your head against the wall because of tomorrow’s interview.
You have done everything to prepare yourself as best you could.
Get a good rest. You deserve it.
More importantly - you need it. It will help you to be fresh and focused during the interview.
3 HOURS BEFORE
Prepare the hard copy of your CV
Print your CV out and prepare at least 3 hard copies of your CV.
In case the interviewers ask for it and you have it in a second, they will perceive you as a well-prepared and organised candidate.
Prepare only a couple of things you might need during the interview.
A bag with the wallet and personal documents (for identification when you enter the company’s building), a pen, 3 copies of your CV, and 5 business cards (if you have them), are the only necessary things we can think of.
It might seem silly, but think about it.
If you come with too much stuff in your hands, it will be hard for you to shake hands with the interviewers, you will need 2-3 minutes to organise your stuff and make yourself comfortable and during that time you might seem quite clumsy, disorganised and unprepared.
You definitely want to avoid that, right?
Rehearse your introduction
Go through your introduction to be sure you won’t get stuck in the middle of a sentence.
If you feel it’s necessary, go through your notes to review the most important information about the company for the last time.
1 HOUR BEFORE
Go, go, go!
If the company is far from your starting point you should already be on your way!
Remind yourself of the recruiter’s and hiring manager's name
If you are travelling by public transportation, you will have enough time to go through your emails and find the interview invite.
Find the relevant information you need for today, e.g. recruiters or hiring manager's name, a name of the meeting room or a floor where the interview will be conducted.
Keep that information in mind as you will need it as soon as you get there.
During the trip to the company, try to visualize the interview situation.
Imagine every little detail – the room where the interview is going to be held, the interviewers sitting across the desk, imagine yourself delivering answers confidently, imagine interviewers nodding and smiling, imagine how you will feel during the conversation.
Focus only on the positive feelings – self-confidence, control over the situation, success.
10 MINUTES BEFORE THE INTERVIEW
Check in at reception
If you have planned your route carefully and you followed the plan, you should now be at the reception desk.
Inform them you are there.
Turn off your mobile phone
If your mobile phone starts ringing during the interview, it can be doom for you.
We cannot stress enough how detrimental it can be to leave your mobile phone on.
Even if you put it on silent, the sound of the vibration buzzing can still be quite noticeable and it can interrupt the flow of the conversation.
And please don’t even think about putting your mobile phone on the desk during the interview or checking your messages, emails, and notifications.
Interviews are not a place for mobile phones. Simply turn it off and keep it out of sight until the interview is over.
Remind yourself of your past successes.
the last interview you had that was a big success
the last challenge you had and how good you felt after you have successfully overcome it, despite you being worried or pessimistic about the outcome
visualisation of the success you made an hour ago
Focus on positive feelings. It will give you final confidence booster right before the interview.
Calm your nerves
As you count final minutes ahead of the interview, you will notice your palms are sweating, you are breathing heavily and you feel like it is too hot in there.
This is a normal reaction which means you are responding to stress.
You can easily control these physical sensations by controlling your breathing.
Become aware of your breathing.
Focus on it. Slow it down a bit. Breathe in and breathe out slowly. Repeat it at least 10 times.
It will help you to calm yourself. And you will avoid sweaty hand-shaking with interviewers. A win-win situation!
THE BIG MOMENT...
At this point, someone will call your name or come for you.
Don’t worry - you are ready for this.
Now go get them!