You’ve got your foot in the door and landed that coveted interview. However, when you’re so busy concentrating on the big day, it’s easy to forget about the important role that preparation plays in the build-up to your interview.
We’re human and we make mistakes, but there aren’t any excuses for being unprepared. It’s vital to stand out from competing candidates, and an unprepared approach will only create missed opportunities.
Throughout our time in New Zealand’s IT recruitment industry, we often come across the same mistakes being made when candidates prepare for interviews. From a lack of understanding and research, to giving stale answers during the interview, not preparing adequately will always hurt your chances of success.
Make the most of your opportunity and avoid making the following interview preparation mistakes.
Lack of Understanding about the Organisation
Needless to say, arriving at an interview and not having an understanding of the organisation will not do you any favours. You’re likely to be asked what you know about the company, as a potential employer will want to see that you are genuinely interested in working there. They will expect you to have done some research and if you haven’t, will think that you’re only interested in the idea of the job rather than the job itself.
Company websites, social media and industry press publications make it easy to do your research, so there are plenty of resources to help you prepare. Learn what you can and it will demonstrate that you’re taking this opportunity seriously and that you have some industry knowledge. What does the company do? What are their products or services? Who are their clients? Who is their CEO? Read about the company’s history, what they’re up to today and what their plans are for the future. Be sure to also read their mission statement and values, which will give you an idea of the bigger picture behind everything they do.
Your research will also help you decide if you think you would be a good fit and enjoy working for the company. Be sure to get across the elements of the role that appeal to you most and why you would like to work there. Perhaps you are excited about the business’s future plans? Or the training and development programmes on offer? Show your interest and enthusiasm, but be natural and don’t go over the top.
Not Researching your Interviewer
One of the biggest mistakes we see candidates make, is when they don’t know or understand who is interviewing them. Most likely you’ll have had some correspondence with the interviewer to set the interview up, and it only takes a few minutes to have a quick look on LinkedIn or Google to get some insight into who they are and what they do at the organisation.
Any background information about the interviewer (for example, how long they’ve been in their position and where they worked before) is also always useful. You might find that you have some mutual connections or that you studied at the same institution and can gain some further insight in to their work experience and personality – as well as having a good icebreaker ready.
This is one of the key advantages of working with a recruitment agency. At RWA, we always make sure that you go into an interview prepared, knowing exactly who you’re going to be talking to and how they’re relevant to the role you’re interviewing for.
Using Stale Answers
It’s easy to read a few articles online and memorise the ‘perfect’ answers to interview questions, but keep in mind that your interviewer will have heard it all before. It lacks thought and an experienced interviewer will be able to spot fabricated answers a mile away.
It’s always a good idea to prepare for your interview by going through example questions, but don’t memorise all your answers, as this will make you come across as forced and unnatural. You might also panic when you’re asked a question that you weren’t expecting, that you hadn’t planned an answer for.
Reflect on your work experience and think of a number of examples that you could use to answer questions. What have been your achievements? What feedback have you been given? What projects are you most proud of? Where have you added the most value? Don’t be afraid to discuss the mistakes you’ve made too. We all make mistakes and if you can demonstrate that you’ve learnt from them and can explain what you would do differently, it will come across positive and sincere.
When preparing for your interview, don’t just focus on what questions you might be asked, but also think about what you would like to find out. An interview is a two-way process so it’s also your opportunity to assess if the opportunity would be right for you. Have a few questions in mind that you would like to ask and this will further demonstrate your interest in the company and role.
Regardless of what level you’re at in your career, or what company you’re interviewing with, preparation is key. It’s very natural to feel nervous when you have an interview, but knowing that you are prepared should help you feel more at ease and this will come across during the interview.
If you’re looking for your next IT job, or just want some friendly advice, get in touch – we’re always happy to help!