Interview Preparation

Job interviews require preparation. An interview should constitute the culmination of your research into the organisation and your personal ‘sales effort’ represented by your cover letter and CV. You can’t plan ahead for absolutely everything you may encounter, but you can certainly prepare enough so that you feel confident. We've collated some tips and tricks from Lifehacker that will assist you with your next interview. 

Remember that reaching the interview stage demonstrates that the firm has already concluded that you are a valuable applicant. The interview should be seen as a two-way process: the firm will ask you to expand on elements of your cover letter and CV, and you will be expected to ask questions of the interviewer(s), in order to find out more about the firm.

Be Prepared

  1. Make a list of questions you might have to answer.
  2. Make a list of questions you want to ask.
  3. Research common salaries for your job in your location, decide how much you’d like to make, and determine how little you’re willing to accept.
  4. Prepare answers to your questions.
  5. Prepare three stories about yourself that you can tell if they come up during the interview.
  6. Practise the interview with a friend (or two).
  7. Take a test drive over to the interview location to get an idea of the route and traffic.

Types of Interviews

  • One-on-one structured interviews
  • Panel interviews
  • One-on-one unstructured interviews
  • Group interviews

What to Bring

  • Two copies of your CV
  • Two copies of your cover letter
  • A certified academic transcript

What to Wear

So many graduates with great CVs let themselves down by not looking right at interview. Here are the mistakes to avoid.

Don't Give Examples, Tell Stories: The next time you’re preparing for an interview, instead of trying to rehearse answers to dozens of common questions, think of three sweeping stories that describe times you did excellent work, worked with difficult people, or rose to a challenge. Real stories and conversations go farther than stock answers.

Research the Employer: The easiest way to do this is to use the employer's own website. Read enough to get familiar with the company's work, its clients and its general approach. Don't leave the website until you can answer these questions: What does this organization do? What is it all about? What would the employers say makes them different from their competition?

Hold A Mock Interview: Experienced hiring managers who have interviewed many candidates will often say they don’t get nervous at their own job interviews anymore, because they’ve done so many interviews from the other side and understand how an interviewer’s mind works. You can get a bit of this benefit by playing the interviewer yourself. If you have a job-searching friend, suggest that you practice together — taking turns playing the part of the interviewer.

Body Language: Wait until you are offered a chair before sitting. Keep your gestures, body and face open. Lean forward slightly to give the appearance of confidence and interest. Position yourself so that you are sitting right back into the chair, so that your lower-back is fully supported. Maintain appropriate eye contact throughout the interview (do not stare or look away too much). Listen to what the interviewer is telling you about the organization and your likely role within it, use appropriate listing cues such as nodding, saying “aha” etc. Try to look interested at all times.

  • Tell me about your work history. +

    What most people say: "Oh, uhh...well, I started working at Acme Corp doing marketing work. Then I worked at A&B as a marketing manager, managing daily emails. Then I went to C&D, which is where I am now, and I've been in charge of PR and marcom."
    What you should say: "If you look at my work experience, there are 3 things that stand out. First, I have experience with many areas of marketing, including PR, advertising, and marcom. Second, I have a quantitative background in terms of what I studied, and my recent email-marketing experience. Finally, I've always wanted to take my skills to a larger stage, which is why I moved from A&B to C&D, and now I'm excited to be here talking with you.
    Why this works: The hiring manager doesn't need you to walk him through your resume chronologically—he can read what's on the page, after all. It's far more valuable for you to highlight the key strengths of your background. If you've done your pre-interview homework, you'll know what aspects are most important (e.g., in the above example, the candidate noticed that this position would be quantitative, which is why he highlighted his quantitative background).
  • Tell me about one of your weaknesses. +

    What most people say: "You know, I work too hard and sometimes have trouble with perfectionism."
    What you should say: "I've spent the majority of my career working for one industry. In some ways, that can limit my perspective. Of course, I've worked in a variety of departments—and in fact I was promoted faster than anyone else to run project X—but I'm ready to take what I've learned to a different culture and industry, and that's why I'm here."
    Why this works: This question is a minefield that traps most candidates. If you answer too honestly—"I'm irritable in the morning and bad at time management"—you're an instant no-hire. But if you answer in a lie, it's transparently obvious. So be honest about your weakness, but be careful to explain what you've done to improve this weakness.
  • Tell me about a challenge you faced with a coworker. +

    What most people say: "This one time, my coworker and I had a disagreement over something. It was pretty bad, but we worked things out in the end."
    What you should say: "I once had a situation when I was presenting business ideas to the CEO of my company. He liked the ideas, but one of the VPs kept shooting them down—and I couldn't figure out why. Honestly, at first I was upset, but after digging into the issue, I realized it was because my plans would impact the VP's work in a negative way. I reached out to him directly, apologized for the oversight, and promised to keep him in the loop in the future. We haven't had an issue since."
    Why this works: There are two main reasons the second answer is more effective: First, the longer answer shows how the candidate took control of the situation. Second, notice the difference in specificity. In a job interview, details sell, so the more specific you are, the more memorable you will be.P
  • Job Interests +

    Employers are often keen to find out what your major areas of interest are so that they can better assess how well you will fit into their organisation, both now as well as your potential to develop with the organisation in the future.
  • Commitment to Work/Organisation +

    An employer is interested to know how you think that you might fit into their organization. This is one area where you will shine if you have done thorough research.
    • Why did you decide to seek a position with this company?
    • What do you know about our company?
    • What do you understand is the current climate of the legal industry?
    • How do you keep informed professionally?
    • Give me an example in your career where you felt like giving up but managed to keep going.
  • Approach to Work +

    Employers are often interested in knowing how you manage different responsibilities, particularly how you prioritise your time. They are also interested in how you cope in stressful situations involving tight deadlines and large amounts of work.
    • How do you work under pressure?
    • How do you balance work priorities and those of your personal and family life?
    • Give me an example of when you had to work to an important deadline. What did you do to ensure that the deadline was met?
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