Preparing for interviews

by Jacqueline Baker
Published: Wednesday, 13 December, 2017

I often hear people on the Thresholds Programme say ‘I haven’t had an interview for years’. If you are going for your dream job you will want to feel confident, informed and practiced. The best way to do this is to prepare well!

Woman smiling whilst conducting an interview

Preparing for interviews

I often hear people on the Thresholds Programme say ‘I haven’t had an interview for years’. If you are going for your dream job you will want to feel confident, informed and practiced. The best way to do this is to prepare well!

Find out as much as you can about the job you are applying for.

Hopefully you know enough about the role to have decided this job is right for you. If you are passionate about the role this will shine through at the interview, so make sure it is a good fit for you before going any further.

To give yourself a head start, find out a bit more! The job holder is probably expecting you to call them to ask additional questions about the role. It makes sense to do this for 2 reasons – firstly, you can find out more and be able to talk about that at the interview, which will increase your confidence. This will enable you to ask questions like ‘what are the biggest challenges facing the team/division over the next year?’, what are your main immediate and longer-term objectives for this role/team?’ and ‘what is the make up of the team? Have they faced lots of changes or has there been a period of stability this year so far?’ This type of insight gives you the opportunity to better imagine yourself in the role and, in turn, helps you to think about your approach. Real insights into the role and how you will positively make a difference will show that you are informed, have a passion for the work and help you demonstrate that you are a really good fit.

Secondly, this contact gives you an opportunity to either meet or speak to the people recruiting on a more informal basis and create a connection even before you walk through the door for the interview. It is a good opportunity to put your best foot forward without the pressure of sitting in front of the recruitment board.

Practice, practice, practice!

Practice not only gets you nearer to perfect but it increases your confidence. If you go in feeling unprepared it will show. Aim to go into the interview feeling – ‘go on ask me about that!’

Knowing yourself well and how your skills and experience link to the role is vital – this will help you convey what you have to offer in a matter-of-fact way to the panel.

Although we can’t be sure what we will be asked, we can have a pretty good stab at what the questions might be. If there is a presentation, you know exactly what the presentation question is and you can hone this part of the interview by practicing with friends and colleagues – getting honest feedback to make sure it is clear, engaging and actually answers the question you have been given. Pick a range of people to give you feedback including peers, people senior to you, your mentor. It is important to ask people who will be honest as well as those who know nothing about the subject as this will be a good test to see if it is easy to follow!

Practicing your answers to questions is equally important. Mock interviews to get you used to actually being interviewed are really worthwhile and practice can make the real thing less daunting.

Structure your answers

Try to make the interview as conversational as possible to bring out your personality. You will have far more impact and be much more memorable if you relax and show the ‘real you’. The Thresholds HER structure will really help with this!

Think about your skills and expertise and how you want to get these across, building on each question. Rather than just delivering your competency examples link your answers back to how this relates to the actual role.

Just before the interview

Make sure you speak out loud to prepare your voice! Maybe listen to some upbeat music! Try out some power poses! Meet for a coffee with your biggest supporter to build your confidence so you go in to the interview feeling fabulous and believing you can do it!

Be generous with others

Helping friends and colleagues prepare will help you too. Apart from it being a lovely thing to do to support others to secure their dream jobs, being on the other side of the fence gives you a brilliant idea of what the panel might be looking for.

Your peer group or others in your Thresholds cohort are a good ‘go to’ source for mutual support. These women have all been through the programme and are facing the same challenges as you – what a lovely way to reconnect by emailing them all to offer your support.

And of course, if you are generous, friends and colleagues are more likely to return the favour and help you. Lots of help and lots of practice around doing well at interviews will undoubtedly help you reach your goals!

Other tips?

Do you have any tips on preparing for interviews to share? Let’s get a conversation going by sharing our top tips – tweet us @thresholdsdev.

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