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When it comes to an interview, you can never be too prepared. Whether you’re new to job hunting or you’re a well-practised interviewee, thorough research and effective preparation is essential to guarantee interview success. So, here are three key areas to help you prepare for the perfect interview.

1. By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail

A good interview starts way before you step foot into your potential employer’s office. In fact, it’s the preparation you do days, or even weeks, before the interview that will determine whether you’re successful or not. The first step to perfect interview preparation is to dissect the job specification. This gives you a chance to prepare great job-specific answers to the common interview questions that are almost certain to come up, such as, “What are your strengths?” or “Why are you interested in working for us?”.

The second step is to do your research on the company you’re interviewing with. Make sure you check their website and social media profiles beforehand to gauge the company’s values. Similarly, google them to see if they’ve been in the news. Take notes on positive aspects of the business that you can highlight in your interview – this is guaranteed to impress recruiters.

Finally, prepare questions to ask at the end of the interview. Asking the interviewer things like ‘what’s the best part of working here?’ or ‘what are your ambitions as a company?’ shows that you’re passionate to learn about the role and will leave a good impression on the person interviewing you.

2. Nail your elevator pitch 

When it comes to interviewing, practice makes perfect. Rehearsing things you’re going to say in the interview beforehand will help you stay calm on the big day and prepare you for any awkward questions. One of the key things to get right is your elevator pitch. This is a thorough yet concise breakdown of who you are, what you’ve accomplished, and what makes you a tremendously qualified candidate for a specific position – but you’ve only got the time it takes to get up to your floor in an elevator to say it!

In your elevator pitch, explain why you want to work for the company, what interests you about the position and, most importantly, what makes you so great. After you’ve rehearsed what you want to say in your pitch, consider recording yourself. Then, watch it back to see how you come across. Was your message clear and, if not, what could you improve? Taking some time to practice this will boost your confidence and help you ace your interview on the day.

Related: Five Essential Job-Seeking Skills

3. Remember PAR 

Recruiters and hiring managers are more likely to remember the stories you tell than the specific facts you share. So, leave a lasting impression on your interviewer by having a handful of high-impact stories at the ready. The best way to structure these stories are to follow the acronym PAR:

  • Problem: Describe the situation you were in
  • Action: What did you do to make it better – this should be the bulk of your story
  • Result: What happened as a result. Or, in other words, why should the interviewer care about this story?

Obviously, make sure these stories are about a situation that you made positive. This shows your potential employers that you’re a problem solver and can adapt to any situation.

Embrace these three key areas and you should ace your next interview – good luck!

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