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How to prepare for a successful job interview

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by Charlotte Gurney

Success in a job interview has as much to do with the way you prepare yourself as it does your confidence in the interview.

Focus your energy on the things you can control - your next application and the interview. Below are the factors you have control over that can have a significant impact on job success.

Preparation
Every hire is an investment for an employer, (training, salary, benefits and more) and they want their investment to pay off. By exploring beyond the job post – reading the company’s website, searching for news about them online, and seeking out friends who have worked there – you can ask questions that show you’ve done your homework, and that could be the factor that convinces them to invest in you.

Before you set foot in your interview, you should prepare by testing yourself with interview questions that are commonly asked in the industry or commonly asked in the company’s interviews.

Most common interview questions
1. What are your strengths?
2. What are your weaknesses?
3. Why are you interested in working for 'company name'?
4. Where do you see yourself in five years?
5. Why do you want to leave your current company?
6. Why was there a gap in your employment between this date and that date?
7. What can you offer us that someone else can not - what is unique about you?
8. What are three things your former boss would like you to improve on?
9. Are you willing to relocate?
10. Are you willing to travel?

Questions you should ask in every job interview
1. Can you tell me about specific details about the job role's day-to-day responsibilities?
2. What would my first week at work look like?
3. How does this position contribute to the companies success?
4. What do you hope I will achieve in this position?
5. What job shadowing opportunities are available for an applicant before they accept an offer?

Proof reading
A typo won’t automatically disqualify you from a job, but it will give the impression that you don’t pay attention to detail. This includes errors that spell checkers won’t catch, such as using “their” instead of “there”. In a competitive job market, a typo can give your competition an edge, so have a friend (or two) take a look at your CV.  They might catch something you’ve missed.

Presentation
Courtesy and professionalism play a huge part in making a positive first impression. We can’t control whether a person likes us or doesn’t, but we can make sure they don’t make their judgement based on a limp handshake or lack of appropriate attire over video conferencing, not thanking them for their time, interrupting them, or speaking poorly of a former employer. You can be yourself, but be the best version of yourself. 

The expectations for what is appropriate to wear to a job interview will depend on the company you’re applying to, and you should find out what these expectations are before the interview. Check out the office photos of a company shared by employees on their website or social media to see what the company culture, its people and the work environment look and feel like.

Looking for a job can be stressful enough without worrying about things you can’t control. Instead, focus on the things that will give employers a reason to choose you.