Interviews - Preparation

As part of our Employability series, we are moving on to Interviews. In this first part we are looking at what you can do in the lead up to an interview to help prepare you for success!

Interviews — Preparation

‘Failure to prepare is preparing to fail.
John Wooden.

The interview is an opportunity for both sides to gather the additional information needed before a commitment can be made. At this stage, a positive attitude is at least as important as any other factor in securing a job offer.

While it is important to be prepared for an interview in terms of physical appearance, knowledge of the job and the business etc., there is something to be said for maintaining a balance. Over-rigorous preparation can lead to excessive anxiety that will inevitably limit your chances of success.

As soon as possible after receiving your invitation to an interview, send a reply confirming the arrangements. Only in extreme circumstances would you be justified in attempting to change the arrangements suggested by the client.

You should have … a map and information on the level of expenses payable and advice on accommodation, if you will be travelling a long distance, together with additional information about the client, such as a description of the surrounding area, site and buildings, an outline of the staffing structure and the interview format.


What are the interviewers looking for?

• the person who matches the job criteria most closely
• the person who will fit in with the existing staff
• the person who will be able to make a valuable contribution to the work of the school
• your attitudes to management and colleagues
• your motivations, satisfactions and dissatisfactions
• your ability to assert yourself

That said, the success of the interview in terms of extracting this information depends on the skills of those asking the questions.


Dressing to win

‘Nothing succeeds like the appearance of success.’
Christopher Lasch.

It sounds totally irrational, but instant judgments will be made of you based on your appearance. For this reason, there are some basic ground rules to follow when deciding what to wear on the big day. However, for an interview a smart comfortable suit or jacket and separates are a sure winner. Businesses are still relatively conservative places. Go for darker colours with co-ordinated accessories. Avoid heavy jewellery and 'themed ties'. Neat hair and make-up is also important. Once you have the job you can speak to colleagues and adjust your dress code to fit into the ethos of the business.


Before the Big day
It’s so easy to get anxious about events like job interviews, especially if your heart is set on a positive outcome. Yet this anxiety can rapidly backfire and severely affect performance on the day if you don’t actively strive for balance. For this reason, physical and mental preparation needs to begin a few days in advance.

Here are some ideas on maximising your chances:

  • Do eat sensibly. A diet high in fresh fruits and vegetables will provide you with the extra energy you need to sail through the interview.

  • Do focus on your breathing. Slow, deep breaths are instantly calming in stressful situations

  • Do plan your route to the interview and aim to arrive about 10 minutes early. This will not only give you extra time in case you are delayed, but also, the chance to freshen up when you arrive, familiarise yourself with your surroundings and practise some deep breathing if you are nervous

  • Don’t let negative thinking spoil your day. Say to yourself that the interview will be a success and the outcome will be the best possible one.

  • Don’t smoke anywhere near your interview clothes.

  • Don’t drink alcohol for 24 hours before the interview. It affects physical appearance, not to mention wits!

  • Don’t worry about potential problem areas in your application such as gaps in employment or a long period of illness. Be open and honest about them explaining why they occurred and what you have learnt from them.


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