‘To fail to plan is to plan to fail’, one of my favourite quotes and no where more true in the area of interviews.
But what should you be preparing? Mind, body and heart!
Prepare with your mind
You need to do a lot of research and thinking before any interview. You need to engage with the future employer and with the role. You need to work out what it is that you are expected to do to add value. What would you need to do in that job to make you ‘a stand out employee’?
Job descriptions can be rather broad and general so you need to try to work out from reading as much as you can about the job, about the firm and about the sector, what is the difference between a firm that is good at what it does and one that is excellent and how could you contribute to that excellence?
You need to be able to answer that question, how can I add, in this role , make a difference. If there was an advert you might find some clues in the wording of the advert. Adverts are written by people who are doing recruitment for people looking for jobs. Job descriptions are written for a whole host of reasons and often by HR people to make sure that they know what the job is worth.
You need to find other people who have done this job or a similar job. To find someone who has worked in the organisation or in that sector. In the world of social media it is easy to track down people that you may know a little, it is much harder to get them to respond to your requests for a chat or to be joined to another of their friends. So you will need to be persuasive with your approach.
You need to think about the things that the interviewer is going to want to hear about. You will need to talk about your experience and therefore you will need to choose which experiences to describe. Choose recent and relevant examples. Choose examples of doing those things that they will want to see you doing in the new job. Make sure your examples are recent and relevant (I know I’ve said that twice) and make sure you can tell these stories well.
You need to make sure that you have thought of all the really obvious questions and have got all your answers prepared. Rehearse so that you can sound confident and know what you are talking about.
Prepare your body
Obviously you’d expect me to talk about having a good nights sleep. You need to be alert and awake. But there are more physical preparations that you need to make.
You need to work out what to wear, make sure it is clean and make sure that it is ironed and looks smart. And you need to do all that the day before. You need to make sure you have smart shoes and that you look like someone who works in that business. Yes there are organisations that don’t wear suits and ties but if you have been down to the offices on your trail run of the journey, you will be able to see what the work dress code is. Unless you are very clear that it would be a mistake, wear formal business wear (suit, dress, skirt, etc) take off jewellery (except small pieces on women) remove piercings, cover up both cleavage and tattoos. Get a hair cut.
Rehearse getting ready, don’t be standing in front of the mirror wondering what to wear when you should be at the bus stop.
Prepare your heart
The heart is said to be the seat of your emotions and they need some preparation.
You need to really enthuse yourself about this role. OK it may not be your dream job, it may just be a job but the future employer wants to know that you are really keen to get the job. Psych yourself up by thinking of all the advantages of having and doing this job. Enthusiasm will take you a long way.
You need to make sure that you have done all your research and all your practice so that you can access your confidence emotions. Being nervous is understandable and interviews know that people will be a bit nervous but you do need to be able to overcome them, to be confident enough to be articulate and to be able to answer their questions well. If you are a real bag of nerves you won’t be able to impress the interviewer with your knowledge and describe your skills.
Getting your emotions under control can be the hardest part of your preparation, just keep remembering a time when you felt chilled, imagine yourself in a relaxed place. Ask yourself ‘what is the worst that can happen?’. In most interviews you will never have to see the interviewers ever again, so if you do dry up (which you won’t because you have done all your preparation) it will not be the end of the world. Get it all into perspective.
And finally, find your lucky charm and pop it in your pocket so that you know that you will perform at your best.