Job interview preparation – the three Ps

Job interview candidates

Remember the three Ps and you’re almost there:

1. Preparation is key to a successful interview:

If you prepare well it will help reduce anxiety and make you feel more confident, at ease and in control of the interview.

Carry out a test run of your journey and time it, the last thing you want to do is to get lost and be late for an interview. What a bad first impression! Ensure you have the full address and if it is a large company, check you have the correct site details and contact names to ask for on arrival.

Re-read your CV and the job role so the responsibilities and main tasks are fresh in your mind. If you are applying for lots of positions at one time and using variations of your CV suited to each role, you don’t want to get confused and be talking about another job!

Take some examples of your work with you to support what you are saying. A portfolio of work can act as an interesting break from interviewing and allow you to talk about work you have completed and projects you have undertaken. This will give you the opportunity to lead the interview and visually demonstrate your skills.

Research is a vitally important aspect. Ensure you know what the company does, its industry, its products and services, when it was established, its company mission statement etc. Look at the website, request a company brochure and also look through recent press coverage and try to include some up to date knowledge in your discussions to impress your interviewer. This will show your interest in the company and that you have taken the time to look into the business which will go a long way with the employer.

Know what you want. Before your interview, take time to look objectively at yourself and think about your aims and objectives. Why are you looking to change jobs? Why are you the best person for the job? What are you striving to achieve? What do you want out of a job or career? Interviews are not tests – they provide you with an opportunity to find out information about the role and the company to see if it is really somewhere where you could be happy.

Interviewers can often ask unnerving and probing questions. Role play with a friend or family member to anticipate some of the favourite questions interviewers like to ask so you have some responses planned in your mind to fall back on if you can’t think on your feet. You can find some typical interview questions and responses later in this section.

Prepare some questions of your own to ask. Interviewers will always ask if you have any questions at the end of the interview and we recommend that you have some prepared. An interviewer couldn’t possibly provide you with all the information you need to know so write down some topics before hand. Some ideas can be found later on.

2. Presentation tells an employer a lot about you:

Always dress professionally and smart even if your interview is being held off site or at a funky design company. You need to portray a professional, business image. Women should wear a moderate amount of make-up and jewellery so as not to distract. Men should ensure they wear a tie. See Barclays’ guide to what to wear for more help.

On meeting your interviewer, shake hands and look them in the eye and smile. Sit up straight, be attentive and listen to the interviewer. Engage in two-way communication as soon as is possible to start building a rapport and allow them to see your personality.

Body language plays an important part in making a good impression. Crossing arms, slouching and jiggling feet can be taken as being defensive or that you are hiding something. You want to show you are open to any questions, so open your body language. Sit facing the interviewer, uncross or unfold arms and hands and this will help to create a more comfortable and approachable relationship.

Do not answer just yes or no. This is the one chance employers get to see what you’re all about so relax, take your time and talk with energy and enthusiasm. Maintain a positive attitude at all times. Always try to turn any negatives into a positive, what you have learned from situations, how it has helped you to communicate better etc.

Try to get across your messages and your main points in the answers you give. Don’t be unnerved by probing or testing questions. More than likely interviewers are testing you to see how you handle yourself under pressure. You need to think smart regarding interview questions and look deeper into why they are asking you those questions. You really need to demonstrate your skills and abilities in the answer you give. Please see our section on examples of interview questions and responses.

3. Personality goes a long way:

The last point, but by no means the least important point, is to be yourself. Let your personality show. Employers do not just offer the job to the best qualified, they look at a variety of factors including the important factor of your personality and sense of humour and how you would fit in with the team and the company culture on a personal level. Try not to be too regimented in how you conduct yourself, allow the interviewers to see the real you.

No doubt large companies especially may have seen up to ten people for interview and if all are equal on merits, experience etc then your personality could be the deciding factor.

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