Top Tips: Preparing for an Interview
You’ve applied for a job and have just received ‘the call’ or ‘the email’ to invite you in for an interview – great news!
But now what? You’ve read and re-read the job description numerous times; you’ve memorized your CV; read the company website and Wikipedia page too. You think you have what it take to be a success in the role – but are you prepared for your interview?
Often people seem ‘perfect on paper’ but when they get to the interview stage their nerves, or a lack of preparation, can lead to a less-than-amazing interview. It happens to us all!
Want to deliver a strong interview and confidently showcase why you’re the right person for the job? Read on to learn about our top tips.
TIP 1: Do your homework.
Take a look at the skills required and consider where and when you have been exposed to similar tasks. Make a list – this list will create the content from which you can draw upon when responding to interview questions.
Also, be prepared to answer questions about the industry! A favourite at NBCUI is, “What kind of TV do you like?” As you can imagine, it’s a little bit worrying if an interviewee isn’t able to answer that one.
TIP 2: Get ready to shine like a STAR!
Responding to the interview questions well requires a certain level of articulation. In order to shape a strong response, consider using the STAR technique:
S – SITUATION
Start by setting the scene; explain the scenario that you were in and provide some context.
T – TASK
Explain what was required, the problem, issue or circumstance that you are responding to.
A – ACTION
Explain the steps that you took to resolve the task. This is the most important element of your response. How did you go about it, what did you do? Remember to explain the actions that YOU took, as opposed to the collective actions of other people involved. Use “I” when responding to this portion of the answer.
R – RESULT
Explain how the actions that you took resulted in a favorable outcome; OR explain what you learnt and what you would do differently to ensure optimum results.
Now that you’ve learnt about the STAR technique, try applying it to a real life example. How would you answer this question: “Tell me about a time that you were required to work in a team to complete a task?”
We asked a member of the NBCUI Talent Team to answer and here was their response:
Situation – “I am a volunteer at a local charity and every year the charity throws an annual ball to raise money for the cause”
Task – “I was asked to sell tickets to the event along with some other volunteers that had been requested to support. There were 500 tickets to sell and four of us tasked with the challenge.”
Action – “To ensure we had a clear strategy and could track our progress, I suggested we hold weekly meetings. I held the first meeting 6 months prior to the event. During our first two meetings I noticed that a member of the team, Sam, was struggling with pitching the event to potential attendees. I had a discussion with Sam and he asked for my help. I encouraged the team to discuss the techniques they were using to sell the tickets and I also went along with Sam to help support him with his sales.”
Result – “By working in a team, we were successful in selling all the tickets to the event and due to popular interest the charity booked a larger venue for the following year with greater capacity”
The structure of the STAR technique enables you to methodically highlight your relevant skills and experience. When preparing, we’d recommend writing a list of questions that you think you could be asked in your interview, then practice your responses using the STAR technique. Once you feel ready it may help to ask a friend or family member to test you and provide some feedback. By practicing a few common examples, your responses will flow more naturally and you will feel more confident too.
TIP 3: Consider your audience.
An interview is a two way experience – it’s an opportunity for your interviewer to learn about you and a chance for you to learn about your potential future employer. In addition to using the STAR technique, think about the interviewer’s perspective and what they’re looking for.
Our Talent Team have suggested you consider:
- Speaking in specific rather than general terms.From the interviewer’s perspective, this helps them measure your success and makes your response more memorable. Vague and undefined responses can make the answer less feel less credible and can lead to several follow up questions as the interviewer attempts to explore the finer details.
- Keeping your answers concise.Don’t forget there are likely to be several questions and if you take a long time to answer each question it puts the interviewer under pressure to fit all their questions in.
- Concluding on a positive note to leave an upbeat lasting impression.Interviewers often see several candidates each day and have to make tough decisions on whom to progress to the next stage; make their decision easier by closing your interview with a confident and memorable example.
- Taking some proper time to thinkabout how you would answer certain questions (particularly on your CV). Interviewers notice and appreciate when you’ve taken the time to prepare!
- Preparing a list of questions for you to ask the interviewer.We’d recommend thinking of 3 or 4 – that way, even if some of them are answered in the course of the interview, you’ll still have something that you can ask. Examples like “What’s your favourite thing about working at NBCUI?” or “what do you see as the biggest challenge for your team in the next 12 months?” are a great way of gaining insight into the company culture and wider team objectives.
- Smile!Interviews can be palm-sweating stuff, but try to enjoy yourself. Your interviewer is a person, just like you, and at NBCUI we love to see your personality. One size doesn’t fit all either, so use the opportunity to put across who you are, and your personal values.
Those are our top tips for preparing for an interview, so remember: do your homework; shine like a STAR; and consider your audience. We hope you find these tips helpful – good luck in getting ready for your future interviews!
~ Narveen & Natalie, Talent, UK