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How to Prepare for an Interview (and What to Say!)

Evie Sparkes is a published novelist, content writer, and company director from the UK.

How do you make yourself stand out during an interview?

How do you make yourself stand out during an interview?

How to Prepare for an Interview

First things first: research. When I interview a potential new member of staff and they know nothing about us as a company, my alarm bells go off. If you haven't taken a little bit of time to learn out about our company (and what exactly we do and how long we've been doing), it then I probably won't be interested in employing you. Convince potential employers that you want to work for their company specifically because of reasons A, B, and C.

Never tell an employer that you need a job, even if it's true. You should only show them that you want a job. Specifically, that you want this job.

Going for an interview is much like going for an audition. It doesn't hurt to put on a bit of an act.

Adapt to Your Interviewer

I adapt to people. I always have done although I didn't realize that was what I was doing. You'll get a feel for them and when they start talking you'll get even more of that feeling. If they are jokey with you then it is acceptable to be light-hearted in return. That doesn't mean unprofessional. There is a line you don't want to cross.

Employers are looking for confident people who are able to work on their own initiative. We won't know whether or not you regularly use your initiative but coming over as confident will make us believe that you can. It's all about the first impression.

Competition for Jobs

There are more people out there than jobs so you need to be on it in an interview. Listen intently to the interviewer and answer clearly and concisely. You are going to be better than the competition.

Don't worry about what everyone else might be saying. It's unimportant. All that matters is what you say and how you come across. If you get hung up on everyone else being better, smarter, funnier, and more attractive than you, you'll lose sight of why you are a good candidate.

It's all about you and the impression you make!

It's all about you and the impression you make!

Interviewer Questions

They will have some. There will be things they want to know. I never mind if an interviewee asks me to repeat a question or explain it further. It shows confidence and neither they nor I want to sit in painful silence while they struggle to come up with an answer to a question they didn't really understand.

Talk about your achievements if they apply to the job or show how using your initiative is commonplace for you.


Smile as much as possible. People like smiley people. We are drawn to happy faces. Look happy!

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How to Dress for an Interview

This all depends on the company but as a rule, I would dress smartly. I used to work for a publishing company and everyone wore jeans. I knew this before I applied for the job but I still didn't show up in a faded pair of Levi's and a cropped t-shirt.

Smart casual is totally acceptable in most cases. If however, you are going for a job with an accountancy firm or some other financial institute you men might want to consider a shirt and jacket even if you ditch the tie.

I have never expected to see an interviewee turn up in a shirt and tie but when they have it does show that they have paid special attention to their attire.

I once interviewed a very clever girl. She was perfectly capable of the job but she turned up in baggy oversized trousers that looked like they hadn't ever seen a washing machine and an off-white t-shirt. She sat back in her chair and chatted as if we were old friends. Whilst I very much liked her as a person, I was not prepared to give her a job. There is such a thing as too laid back.

We Don't Like Interviews Either

It's a misconception that it's only the interviewee that hates the interview process. We employers don't much like it either.

Sometimes we get a little nervous too. We've had to plan the whole process and we've probably got a few people to see, all answering with the same stock replies. Don't be one of those people.

Don't go all smart-arse or anything, but do try and stand out. You could say something like 'I'm very nervous sorry. I just really want to work for your company' or 'I love the atmosphere here.' Something a little different.

Don't ask about sick pay, staff discounts, and holiday entitlement. Well, maybe holiday entitlement at the very end of the interview if your interviewer hasn't mentioned it. I always end an interview with standard information like staff holidays, sick pay, and so on. Don't ask for the women from human resources direct extension number.

You are selling yourself but you are also interviewing the company. Are they really someone you'd like to work for? Ask them how many staff they employ, who their competitors are, and if they do any extra staff activities.

Be the Best Version of Yourself

We want to see the real person behind the suit but we expect a bit of flowering up. In fact, we like it. It shows us that you mean business and you really want to work for us.


Evie Sparkes (author) on June 29, 2019:

Thanks Dora :)

Dora Weithers from The Caribbean on June 28, 2019:

Very helpful, Evie. I could have benefited from your wise counsel back in the day. Hope those who still can will come by to read.

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