Getting an interview confirmation can be an exciting time. It can also be quite a stressful time. You know you need to prep but, how much? And for what? 

There are three keys to interview success. One is confidence, another is your resonance with the interviewer and third is your knowledge about the company and field. All three can be vastly improved by doing the right preparation. 

Many of us aren’t naturally good, or comfortable, bigging ourselves up and don’t consistently reflect on our achievements. But in an interview it’s important to be able to talk about these easily.

This article is Part 2. of a two part series. Part 1, “Things You Should Know About A Company Before An Interview”, can be read here 

You need to make sure you take some time to get to know yourself in the context of the role. Prepping the best responses for the questions they may ask. This should include:

Your Strengths and Your Weaknesses

It’s the oldest interview question in the book and a common go to. Despite being quite dry, it does give an interviewer an opportunity to try and understand you a bit better, and see how you view yourself. You should prepare three strengths and at least one weakness. These need to be honest. If you say “confident and outgoing” while squirming and looking at your shoes, no-one’s going to be convinced. Your weakness also needs to be truthful but you should select something which wouldn’t have a negative impact on your ability to do the job. For example, I am a big picture thinker so my weakness would be that I don’t always obsess the detail. You need both detail-oriented and big-picture thinkers in companies. 

Where You Match the Skills They’re Looking for and Where You Lack

You’re unlikely to be a cookie cutter fit for a job spec, so it’s good to be on the front foot of where you will be able to jump in right away and where you may need some guidance. If there’s a certain skill you’re lacking, or software you haven’t used before, you can make suggestions of how you’d quickly overcome this.

Whether You Really Want the Job

If you’ve agreed to go to the interview stage, it’s safe to presume you’re interested on some level. But take a moment to think about whether you really want the job, because if you do, you should be thorough in your prep. However if you aren’t so fussed, you may be better focusing on the most important elements to ensure a decent interview, but not going too deep. Time is a limited resource.

Why You Are Looking to Move

Or, why you left your past company. I’m going to steal a little quote from Eckhart Tolle here: 

“Whatever the present moment contains, accept it as if you had chosen it.”

Take that approach when reflecting on where you are and have a good response to this question. 

A Time You’ve Overcome a Challenging Situation 

I hate this question – always have. I think it’s a little unnatural and forces people to come up with a warped version of an otherwise insignificant event. That being said, it is asked frequently, so prepare a response to it which gives you an opportunity to share some experience or knowledge you have which you think would be attractive to your prospective employer. 

Which leads me onto….

Something Interesting about You That You’d like Them to Know

It’s good to have established some of the key things you’d like to get across, as you may have some really interesting skills or life experience, which would tip the favour your way. If you know what these are, then you can find a way to bring them up.

Things You Don’t Know about the Company or the Role.

As you’re reviewing the job description and researching the company there will inevitably be things which crop up that you don’t fully understand, or can’t find the answers to. Save these somewhere as these will form the basis of your prepped questions. You should always have questions to ask at the end of the interview as it shows you’re engaged with the role. I’d suggest preparing 5, knowing some will be answered as you go. (Any more may be too many to remember!)

Often interviewers will throw in a random question, unrelated to the job, to try and get to know who you are as a person a bit more. I’ve been asked anything from, what I’m like in a meeting, how my friend’s would describe me to, my personal favourite: “tell me something about you that I shouldn’t know.” You can’t prepare for these, but if you’ve prepared for everything else then hopefully you’ll be relaxed enough to answer the random one with honesty and humour. 

Good luck!