Ways to Prepare for an Interview
After you’ve spent days (maybe even weeks) tailoring your CV, writing your cover letter, and sending off all your perfectly collated documents showcasing yourself and your skills, and it’s still not over. You’ll eagerly wait that phone call that says “We’re interested in having you in for a face to face interview”. Then comes the rush of excitement, which is quickly swept away by the tsunami of emotions that is interview anxiety. Now you have to go, sit in a room with a stranger while they comb over your CV and get to the bottom of you. It’s must easier to upsell your skills on paper, but in person? It’s natural for most people to feel uneasy talking about themselves and why they’re the absolute best person for this job and this company. It’s uncomfortable. We’ve been conditioned our whole lives that talking about yourself and ‘bragging’ about yourself is rude and now you’re telling me that my future earnings depend on it?? I’m here to tell you that, yes, unfortunately it’s true. But here’s the good news: I’m going to walk you through it. At NxtStep, we talk with recruiters all day long and some of us even use to do that job for a living, so we know the process well. For the rest of this blog, I’m going to walk you through some of the main anxieties surrounding interviews.
This is a big one. What you wear to an interview is an example of your level of professionalism, maturity, and seriousness about the job. If you walk into an interview in jeans and a t-shirt, it will communicate to the interviewer that A. you aren’t that serious about the job, and B. if you had the job, you wouldn’t conduct yourself in an appropriate manner. It seems simple, but it has to be said because it has happened. I’m not going to spend this time dividing up between what men should wear and what women should wear, because it’s 2020 and we know better than to force people into those social constructs. But whatever you identify as, there are still some basic rules you need to follow for interview attire. The first step is to plan out what you’re going to wear the night before, try it on, maybe get someone’s opinion, and have it all ready for the interview the following day. You don’t want to have a last minute panic and end up wearing something you’ll regret. Button up shirts, black trousers, long skirts, and a that pair of shoes you only wear for special occasions, these are your go to pieces. Keep your hair tidy and out of your face. In terms of makeup, keep it minimal. If you’re an Instagram MUA please contact me because I’m 27 years only and honestly cannot ever get my winged eyeliner right, but also, hold back on doing a big look with your new Colour Pop pallet. Keep it simple. When you’ve decided what your outfit is going to be, take a look at yourself in the mirror and ask yourself “Would my mother approve?” If your answer is yes, then boom, you’re in.
The most nerving thing about interviews is probably not knowing what they’re going to ask. If interviewers just gave us all their questions ahead of time and we all had time to memorize and perfect our answers then well, I wouldn’t be writing this blog. But an interview isn’t an open note test. While I can’t tell you exactly what they’re going to ask you, I can at least give you some popular questions so you feel a little bit more secure. “What made you interested in this role” is a definite popular one, and one that requires you to do some prep work beforehand. Get to know the company you’re interviewing for. Research them, make sure you read their NxtStep employer profile, especially their overview section and information on the programme you’re applying for. They want to see proof that you’ve done this, proof that you’ve committed yourself to knowing the company and the role. The answer to that question not only shows them that you’re serious about the position but it also showcases your ability to work hard and dedicate yourself to a task. “Can you tell us about any accomplishments you’ve made that you’re proud of?” This question might come up and it might throw you off because you’ll get that awful giant lump in the pit of your stomach and think to yourself ‘Oh my god I haven’t done anything’. It’s important to remember that the interviewer isn’t looking for you tell them about that time you cured cancer. Your answer doesn’t have to be some gigantic, life-changing thing you did. It can be about sometime you handled a customer well, or a mark on an assignment you were really pleased with, or maybe even something you did during your volunteer work. What the interviewer is looking for is your confidence, in yourself and in your abilities. You should also make sure to have some questions of your own. Not only does this show a willingness to get a strong understanding of the role, but it’s also important for you as a future employee to know exactly what you’ll be doing. Have maybe 2-3 questions ready (in case one of them gets answered during the interview, make sure to have a couple of back ups) and don’t be afraid to ask. An interview can go both ways. It’s a space for the recruiter and for you to decide if this is the best fit.
I’m going to sneak this bit in because in the current climate it’s something that needs to be addressed. Some employers have communicated to us that they might be moving towards doing Zoom interviews, or some other form of video chat, in order to comply with COVID-19 restrictions. For these interviews, still follow everything we’ve discussed so far. Still dress appropriately, still research the company well, still have some answers already prepared, but there are a couple of other things to keep in mind. Make sure you’re in a quiet room, and tell everyone in your household what you’re doing so they make sure not to interrupt you on accident or be too loud. Also, make sure that you do the interview where there is a blank wall behind you. You don’t want to be surrounded by clutter as that could be distracting. If you want to see more tips on Zoom interviews, check out our Instagram Post.
‘Did the interviewer like me’ is the question you’re going to be asking yourself for the next few days and you’ll undoubtedly agonize over it (unless you’re one of those super confident, super calm people. If you are, please get in line with the MUA’s and tell me your secrets). Unfortunately, the only answer I have to this is: just wait. Because that’s all you can do. You can go over the interview in your head with a fine-tooth comb and question or regret some of your answers, but the only thing you can really do is wait. They will get back to you with an answer, even if it’s no. You can send a follow up email if you haven’t heard anything from them in a week, but for the most part you’ll be waiting on their response.
Before I finish this blog I want to close with this: even if you don’t want the job, go to the interview. That might sound silly and like a waste of time for everyone, but it’s important. Like anything else, you won’t be good at interviewing unless you practice, and going to a job interview for a job that you don’t particularly want is good practice. It even could be a good networking opportunity depending on what industry you go into.
Good luck to you all!
Written by Erica Shepard, Auckland