10 Interview Tips to Land Your Dream Job
Do you need interview tips that will help you to feel prepared and confident? Have you ever experienced feeling unprepared for an interview? Those nerves, your mind going blank when the interviewer asks you a question, self-doubt creeping in about whether you are good enough for the position? Well you aren’t the only one! Feeling anxious about an interview is common and happens to even the most qualified person for the job.
So how do you battle those nerves and master your confidence so you can perform optimally at an interview? You may feel unsure especially if you are making a career change. You will have to consider how to position yourself effectively in a new role or industry. Now, before you go for an interview, you are likely to have submitted a CV and cover letter. Perhaps you filled out an online application form as well. These were the first steps you took in positioning yourself to the employer as a viable candidate. If you have reached interview stage, then you are already seen as someone who could potentially do the role they are hiring for. Let this be your first boost of confidence!
Once you get your first call for an interview, which could be on the phone or in person, make sure you have taken these steps to ensure you shine throughout the process:
Understand your personal brand
The first step you should take before preparing for any questions is to do with self-awareness. Personal branding may be a new concept to you, or it may sound like something done by celebrities. It’s actually a really important step in your career development. When you understand this, you will step into an interview confident in yourself and what you can offer. Have a look at our article on personal branding for scientists for a guide on how to develop this.
Know your transferable skills
Building on your self-awareness from the first step with your personal brand is knowing your transferable skills. There are some common skills that all those with a science degree share which you can find in this article. You also have skills that are unique to you and your experiences. It is especially important to know what these are if you are making a career transition. You may not have direct experience in the industry or role that you are transitioning to, but you are likely to have skills that can transfer into a new role.
Research the company
This may sound obvious, but you need to do targeted research on the company you want to work at. This means finding out the following:
- Company size
- Key financial metrics
You can go directly to the company website and also check out websites like Glassdoor for insight into the culture from employee reviews. This information can be incorporated into your answers, but will also give you an idea of whether you actually want to work there. Work out whether the company aligns with your values and goals.
Understand the industry
As well as doing research on the company, investigate the industry in operates in too. This means knowing who the key competitors are in the market, and what products or services they offer. What makes the company you are applying to unique in their offering? Do they serve the same customers as each other or are there differences? Also find out what collaborations and partnerships your target company may have in place. Doing this type of research gives you a wider view of the industry you are entering into and you can demonstrate this knowledge at interview.
Know the salary market data
Some job adverts state the salary directly, and some don’t. Either way, it is valuable to know what the market generally pays for that role in your location. You can use a website like Indeed to do this. Once you are armed with this information, you can use it for a salary negotiation if needed. You can also use it to compare what different employers are offering, and whether it is a competitive rate.
Prepare answers to general questions
Although you can’t predict every question that will come up at an interview, you can assume that certain ones will. General questions will be around who you are and your past experiences and what motivates you to work at that company. There will also be questions about your fit for the role and how ready you are to take it on. The work you did from tips 1 and 2 will set you up well to compose answers in these areas.
Prepare answers to competency questions
Competency questions are more specific and will definitely come up at graduate assessment centres. They may also come up at other types of interviews. These are based on general skills that employers want you to demonstrate by relaying a specific scenario where you used that skill. Common competencies employers look for include: communication, teamwork, overcoming challenges, stakeholder management and leadership. If you are applying for a technical role, make sure your technical knowledge is up to date as well.
Have questions for the interviewer
You are there to interview the interviewer too! Walk into the interview knowing that you are assessing them for the job as well. You need to make a decision at the end to determine whether the job is right for you. Make the most out of the interview by having some questions prepared. These can be asking more about the job role, the team or the department. You can also ask when the next stage of the process is or when the decision will be made about who to hire.
Prepare your outfit
It’s a good idea to plan what you're wearing in advance, and even have one interview outfit that you wear to all your interviews. Make sure it’s something that you feel both confident and comfortable in. You want to be professional and feel relaxed at the same time.
Make a trip to the interview location
Not everyone does this but it’s something that can make a huge difference to your nerves on the day. Travel to the interview location a week before the actual interview. This way, you can figure out the route and foresee any potential problems along the way. It will also give you a feel for the area, so if you arrive too early for example, there may be a coffee shop nearby you can wait in. You may also be able to observe existing employees at the company which can give you an idea of how they dress and interact with each other.
The interview tips above should show you that preparation is not just about practising answers. It’s about building your self-awareness, researching the industry and getting into the right mindset for success. Follow these steps for each interview you go through and it will start to come naturally to you. Once you have done some of the work within each of the steps for one interview, you will also have less work to do for future interviews too.
If you are ready to take your career outside the lab and want to know how to start, book a Beyond the Lab Breakthrough Session here.