Friday, 19 April 2013

Interview Preparation: structure your preparation

I’ve written previous blog posts about the interview preparation that I undertook to gain my jobs at IPC Media. However, I’ve written little about structuring that preparation and the final crucial component of any interview – asking the interviewer questions. Usually this is the final chance to make a great impression on the employer. It is a sure way for the interviewer to find out how much research/preparation you’ve done. Therefore, you should structure your preparation in order to get the most out of it.

As I’ve stated in a previous blog post ‘Interview Preparation Essentials, I compile various packs and treat them in the same way that I would an exam – to try to help me revise key information before an interview.
The packs I create are as follows:-
  • Research pack – explore the website, interviewer, web articles and anything else relevant to the role applied for e.g. target market.
  • Questions and answers pack – what will the interviewer ask you. Once completed, this can be adapted for various other interviews.
  • Scenarios pack – focussing on all the ‘give me an example of....’ questions.

Please see my previous blog post Preparation Essentials, where I discuss what could go into these packs. 

Creating the research pack first is vital as it will help you out with all the packs that follow. For example, when you’re creating the questions and answers pack you may have the question ‘Who is our target consumer and what are they doing right now?’ – Your research pack will help you to compose your answer – ‘The target consumer is mass market women, she’s the girl next door working a 9-5 job...’ etc.

For me, once the research and question/answer packs are created, the scenarios pack naturally follows on as I like to focus solely on these because they can be a real mixture of questions. This is where I like to go back to my CV and look at how I’ve described myself in the profile section. For instance, if I ‘pay great attention to detail’, a scenario question that the interviewer may ask is ‘Give me an example of time where you’ve paid attention to detail?’ For other tips on writing scenario packs see my previous blog post

These packs not only help with any pre interview work, but they also allow you to think about thought provoking questions to ask the interviewer. It would be a lot more difficult to think of questions before carrying out the necessary research. I find that having a structure to my research (creating the packs) makes sure that I’ve covered all bases.

Don’t forget about carrying out your standard interview preparation, where you go onto sites such as The Guardian Careers to gain even more tips about succeeding at interviews. It only takes a few online sessions to increase your knowledge and subsequently better your performance.

Once you have the above ingredients you can then undertake the final part of interview preparation, ‘questions to ask the interviewer’ pack. It’s your last chance to make a positive impression. The questions that you do/don’t ask will reflect how well prepared you are. Although it may be tempting NEVER tell the interviewer that you have no questions for them, it shows lack of preparation and will create a lasting impression for all the wrong reasons. My next blog post will continue you on from this one, covering what specific questions you could include in your pack.

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