How To Prepare for an Interview

By Indeed Editorial Team

Updated 23 November 2022 | Published 12 June 2021

Updated 23 November 2022

Published 12 June 2021

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

Thorough interview preparation can get you a step closer to your dream job. It not only makes you appear a more thoughtful candidate, but it allows you to be proactive in the way you present yourself to an interviewer. Recruiters recognise the time and effort you put into your preparation because it shows your confidence and relevance to the role. In this article, we discuss why interview preparation is important, how you can prepare for an interview and share answers to common interview questions.

Related: How to Succeed in a Virtual Interview

Why is interview preparation important?

Job interview preparation is important because it shows your professionalism and interest in the job. The more you prepare, the more likely recruiters are to trust you with the responsibilities of the role. The following are a few reasons why interview preparation is important:

Positions you as the ideal candidate

Doing your research in advance gives you the necessary information to present yourself as a good fit for the company. It allows you to structure your answers with more relevant experiences from your past jobs. You will feel more comfortable discussing the company's ongoing projects and wider company culture. When they give you the opportunity to ask questions, you can engage them with your knowledge and gain specific advice. Employers want candidates who work hard towards their organisational goals, therefore, preparation is a great way to exemplify your work ethic.

Boosts your confidence

Preparing for an interview helps you calm down your nerves. Most recruiters can immediately pick up on confidence just by the way you carry yourself. Feeling prepared automatically makes you sit up straight, square your shoulders and speak with purpose. It helps you articulate your answers better and steer the direction of the interview to your liking. Confidence is an attitude that recruiters want in their hires because it signifies their ability to work independently.

How to prepare for an interview

The following is a step-by-step guide to ensure you go into a job interview prepared:

1. Review the job description

After you receive an invitation to interview with a company, examine your job description again to refresh your memory. Identify the skills and experience the interviewer will expect you to talk about during the interview. Prepare to share examples of your success in previous roles. Use statistics to emphasise your effectiveness as a professional. Look for any specific requirements in the job description so that you can make yourself appear more suitable for the position.

2. Research the company

Browse the company's website and social media profiles to learn more about their current projects and future objectives. Identify how you can align yourself with their values and how you can contribute your ideas and skills to their work.

Review the professional profiles of your recruiter to understand their career ambitions and interests. This helps you establish a rapport during the interview. Preparation makes you a more engaging candidate.

3. Rehearse interview questions and answers

Compile a list of common interview questions that are specific to your role and industry. Avoid writing out a script for each of your answers. Instead, create an outline, highlighting relevant examples and statistics for each answer. This technique makes your delivery appear more natural. It also encourages you to be adaptable with your answers should the exact question not come up.

Once you have memorised your points, rehearse your delivery in front of a mirror. Pay attention to your communication style, such as your tone of voice, body language and facial expressions. Remember to always maintain eye contact to keep the interviewer engaged. Ask a friend to role-play an interview with you to get their advice on how you can improve.

4. Compile any necessary documentation

Create a folder with any documents that your interviewer might ask for, such as proof of your certifications, examples of your previous work and reference letters. Make copies of each document should they want to keep one for their records. Remember to print out extra copies of your resume and Hong Kong Identity Card as most interviewers will need them to process your application in the later hiring stages.

5. Pick out an appropriate outfit

It's always best to be overdressed for an interview. Thus, even if you work in an industry where it's normal to wear jeans and a t-shirt to work, you should still dress in business formal attire for an interview. Pick out an outfit that has a sober colour, try it out to see if it fits well and make sure it's ironed. Appearance is the first impression you make, therefore, following a professional dress code will show your respect for the opportunity to interview with them.

6. Plan your commute

Research online to find the exact location of your interview. Plan to arrive about 15 minutes ahead of your scheduled appointment. If you are travelling during morning or evening rush hours, remember to account for traffic conditions. Check your bus schedule to ensure you arrive on time. In case you encounter any unforeseen delays, have some cash on hand to flag down a taxi.

Common interview questions

There are a handful of common interview questions you can expect in every interview. Although you might have answered them several times, they are an essential device for recruiters to understand your background. The following are a few common interview questions with example answers for each:

Tell me about yourself.

Usually, interviewers will ask you this question at the beginning of their conversation with you. It's important to prepare your answer thoroughly, as it's the first impression you make. It can set the tone for your entire interview. To answer this question effectively, you need to summarise your skills, experience and qualifications. The key here is to present an intriguing fact about yourself that they can not just find by skimming through your resume. Doing so allows you to take control of the trajectory of the interview.

Example: "My name is Tina Ho and I have over five years of experience in customer service. My passion for the field began when I was a child. I absolutely loved joining my father at business trade shows where I got to demonstrate his products to customers. Since then, I got a bachelor's degree in business and continue to grow my skills in customer relations."

Related: Interview Question: ‘Tell Me About Yourself'

What are your strengths and weaknesses?

This common interview question seeks to examine your self-awareness. The two-part question requires you to be vulnerable while reflecting on your strengths and weaknesses. A successful answer balances confidence with accountability. To approach the question, use examples of your achievements and share how you intend to work on your weaknesses. Be honest and open in your sharing. Recruiters prefer candidates who strive for growth over those that appear perfect.

Example: "I believe my strength is in building a team. My previous company gave me the opportunity to lead the restructuring of my entire department. I took the project very seriously. I made it a point to sit down with each of my co-workers to discuss their career ambitions. Through empathy and respect, I was able to identify their strengths and pair them with suitable responsibilities. However, being a people person can come with its weaknesses. I have to remind myself to prioritise my workload and the organisational objectives frequently."

Related: Interview Question: “What Are Your Strengths and Weaknesses?”

Where do you see yourself in five years?

Recruiters ask this question to determine whether your career ambitions align with their organisational goals. Employers want to hire candidates that will contribute to their company over the long run. This saves them from high turnover costs and maintains their productivity. A good employer will also use this question to support your learning and development. This is essential to job satisfaction and retaining top talent.

Example: "In five years, I see myself in a managerial position, overseeing a team of hard-working professionals. I believe the next few years will be crucial in my career development. I hope to grow my understanding of how the business works so that I can contribute to its future strategy."

Why do you want to work for our company?

This question essentially seeks to find out whether you would be a good culture fit within the organisation. You can use your research and preparation to stand out with your answer to this question. In your answer, highlight the aspects of the company that appeal to you. Discuss how you would add value to their future initiatives and identify the projects you would like to work on.

Example: "Your company's initiative to go green by 2030 really inspires me. As a product developer, I hope to contribute my expertise in sustainable manufacturing to the project. I share the same values of care and accountability, a philosophy I want to follow in my career too."

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