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Paul Finnegan

Paul Finnegan Beyond Words Manager

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Preparing for an interview

After the hard slog of completing application forms and sending out CVs, you finally get that all important interview. With the date set, you may well rub your hands together in glee thinking that you have pretty much landed the job already.......

Think again! The key to a successful interview is sound preparation. If you fail to prepare for the interview, prepare to fail – or so they say!

Before the important interview, do your homework on the company:-

  • Research the company
    Using the internet, do some research on the company, looking specifically at their background, history, their products and services, their performance over the past year etc.  It is often beneficial to check out the company’s website as this will give you an insight into how the company wishes to be viewed and will also provide more detailed information on staff, departments and any annual reports.

    Also look at news stories from the past year to see what has been happening from a news angle with the company – looking at what they have achieved or what challenges they are facing.

    Think also about the role for which you are applying and how you would fit this role and what you could bring to the company based upon the information you have researched.

  • Research the industry
    Once you have gained a better understanding of the company, look wider and research the industry within which it operates.  Think about the following:

    What is happening within the sector?
    Who are the competitors?  
    How are they performing in comparison?
    What are the key issues facing the industry?

    The business section of the Belfast Telegraph website is a good source of information on the local economy and the industries within.

Next, do your homework on you! Review and study the application form or CV which was submitted to the company to secure the interview. Look at doing the following:  

  • Memorise the content of your CV and application – you cannot take it with you to the interview after all.
  • Expand and make notes on all achievements and  skills contained within the application
  • List all examples and situations in which these were gained or employed
  • Think of additional examples of key achievements to add to your application at interview
  • Read over the job description and personal specification again and try and match each criterion to your application.
  • Prepare your “elevator pitch” – this is a concise, carefully planned statement detailing why an employer should hire you. It is called the elevator pitch because it should not last any longer than the 30 seconds it takes to ride an elevator.
  • Research common interview questions and how best to approach these (read our article ‘Interview questions and answers’ for examples of these interview questions).

Finally look at the more practical preparations required:

  • Check the date, time and location of the interview
  • Decide how you are going to get there on the day and plan your travel times carefully
  • Perhaps even do a dummy run at the same time of day that you intend to be there, so as to prevent any delays
  • Decide in advance what you are going to wear and have it clean and ready to go the day before your interview.
  • You may be required to bring some documentation with you. Review this list and have it ready to go in advance
  • If you are unsure of anything, contact the company for clarification

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