If you've been invited to a job interview, it's a good sign. It means the company thinks you have potential and they want to know more about you.
Interviewers can sometimes ask unpredictable questions, but you can increase your chance of success by preparing well! Here's how.
Study the job description
The job description says what skills, experience and personal characteristics the company needs.
Think of examples of your past work that demonstrate your strengths in these areas. You may have other skills too, but focus on those mentioned in the job description.
Anticipate questions and prepare answers
Here are some common questions to prepare for.
- Why do you want this job?
- What can you bring to this role?
- Why did you leave your last job?
- Where do you see yourself in five years' time?
- What are your strengths and weaknesses?
- What challenges could you face in this job?
Your answers will be more persuasive if you include real examples of your work. For instance:
Q: What can you bring to this role?
A: Good time management. It's one of my strengths. In my last role I organised our office relocation, which was a huge project involving over a hundred staff in only three months. I delegated work within my team to save time. I set deadlines for completion of the project stages and I monitored progress regularly. Because of this, the relocation was completed on time and on budget. I feel confident I can bring these skills into this role.
Some questions may ask you to talk about weaknesses, failures or challenges. Nevertheless, be optimistic. For example, if you have to talk about a failure you experienced, you can also say what you learned from it or how you avoid repeating it.
Look at your CV and guess what interviewers will want to know. For instance, if you have any gaps between jobs, they may ask what you did during that time.
Research the company
Find out as much as you can. Check the company's website, LinkedIn and social media, and ask your friends and colleagues.
You can use this information in the interview. If you know about the company's current activities, for example, you can say which ones you are keen to be involved in. It will show your interest in the job.
Here are some suggestions for vocabulary practice:
- positive adjectives to describe you (e.g. determined, resilient) and your work (e.g. innovative, successful)
- verbs to describe your achievements and actions (e.g. coordinate, direct, develop, create)
- words to describe projects and goals (e.g. objective, success criteria, implementation)
- words to describe professional development (e.g. training, qualifications)
- technical terms in your field
- phrases for social interaction (e.g. Nice to meet you; It's my pleasure).
Also check the pronunciation of any technical terms, the company's name and the interviewers' names.
Practise speaking English aloud until you feel comfortable and confident. It's a good idea to do a practice interview – ask a friend to ask you some questions and practise responding in English.
Prepare your own questions
You may have a chance to ask your interviewers some questions. This is a good way to show your interest as well as to find out more about the job. Here are some suggestions.
- What do you think the challenges will be for this role?
- What's the next step in the recruitment process after this interview?
- When will you notify candidates about the outcome of the interview?
- Will there be any support for training and development in this role?
Prepare the practicalities
Decide what clothes you will wear and get them looking smart. Pack in your bag anything that you need to bring, such as your ID card or certificates. Take a bottle of water too. Arriving late makes a bad impression, so plan to arrive at the venue early.
For online interviews, find a quiet place where you won't be disturbed. Turn on your device's camera and check that the picture is clear and the room lighting is not too bright or dark. Check that the microphone picks up your voice clearly too. Have a look around the interview platform (e.g. Zoom or Skype) and get familiar with the controls (how to mute, share screen, etc.). Also prepare any notes that you want to refer to.
Good luck in your interview!