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The Ultimate Interview Cheat Sheet

01 Jan 2018

Have you ever felt prepared for an interview but have been caught off guard by an unfamiliar question?

When faced with preparing for an interview, the most common fear I come across from my candidates is being put on the spot by questions that they haven’t prepared for, or an odd question that catches them off-guard.

Banana Republic Asked:

"What did you have for breakfast?"

Urban Outfitters Asked:

"You're a new addition to the crayon box, what colour would you be and why?"

Apple Asked:

"If you were a pizza deliveryman how would you benefit from scissors?"

Unusual questions are almost impossible to prepare for, but the good news is that companies are moving away from them. They realise that asking something like the above doesn’t fulfill the objective of testing the candidate’s out-of-the-box thinking or their ability to perform under pressure.

When Researching on Interview Questions…

We have all been there before an interview googling interview questions that companies are most likely to ask yourself. Here are the top 5 out of 50 from an online survey:

  • What are your strengths and weaknesses?
  • Where do you see yourself in 5 to 10 years?
  • What are 3 things your former Manager would like you to improve on?
  • Tell me about an accomplishment you are most proud of
  • Why should we recruit you?

Which I’m sure you’ll agree that these type of questions are a lot simpler to answer and prepare for.

I know what you’re thinking, if the questions are so simple, how are you going to stand out from the crowd? Well, you are in luck!

If you would like to leave a great impression at your next interview then keep reading to find out 7 strategies that can help you on your next visit to an interview.

1. Know the Company

No matter how prepared you are to talk about yourself, not knowing the essentials of the company you are interviewing for conveys a lack of preparation and interest.

Do delve into the company website and build an understanding of what they do and who they are. Conduct a Google search on the company to find recent news articles. This will give you something new to talk about, shows knowledge and allows you to ask the questions.

Who are the key personnel?

What are the Company values?

Visit the company’s Social media pages to see how the company comes across as a brand.

What is the tone of voice for example? Is it professional or relaxed?

What kind of language do they use? Is it conversational?

This will give you an insight into the type of company you could be working for in the future.

2. Know the Job

Get to know the job you are applying for intimately. Study the job description - Picture yourself performing every task required of you. By doing this, you should find competency based questions a little easier to tackle. It should also show the interviewer that you are a good fit for the business and that the business is a good fit for you.

3. Know why you’re the Right Candidate

Know exactly what parts of your experience, qualities and values fit with the role then tailor your answers. Skip the clichés and go right into the qualities about you that make you unique for the job.

4. Find your “Hook”

Most Hiring Managers interview more than 3 candidates for each role, so many that they generally have to go back to their notes to remember candidates EXCEPT the candidates with a strong hook.

Your hook could be how you dress, your personality, or a strong story that’s work-related. My advice would be to cover all bases. Dress to impress, prepare a strong work related story and let your personality shine throughout the meeting with your potential employer.

5. Practice, Practice, Practice

The difference between a good interview and an excellent interview lies in the preparation. You don’t need to memorise all of your answers word for word, but instead know certain points of reference about yourself that you can apply to different questions.

Make sure to conduct a mock interview for yourself. I’ve found its best to record yourself until you’re able to speak comfortably and can be flexible with your answers. It may feel awkward when you do it, but it will pay off.

6. Relax!

It may seem obvious that maintaining positivity is essential in an interview, but it can be very difficult to do when you are nervous. It’s tough to be positive if you find yourself describing a situation when there was team conflict, or you had to convince someone that your idea was the better way forward, but that’s exactly what employers want to see in you. Show them that you can maintain a positive attitude in a challenging environment. This highlights resilience and the flexible nature of the individual they are looking for.

7. Be Honest

It is essential to approach your interview with honesty.

If you interview dishonestly, 2 things might happen:

You will either not get the job because the interviewer will see right through you, or you’ll get the job but it’s a poor fit for yourself.

I suggest that you shouldn’t focus on what you think the interviewer wants to hear. Instead, focus on giving an honest and passionate breakdown of what you have to offer.

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