How to prepare for face-to-face interviews

Job interviews can be a nerve-wracking prospect for those seeking pastures new, particularly in a post-COVID world when many have become used to working at home alone. Preparing for a face-to-face interview can seem overwhelming, but with the right strategies, you can feel confident and ready to impress your potential employer. Here are some tips to help you prepare for your next job interview.

Research the Company

Firstly, research the company. Look up its website, read its mission statement, and learn about its products or services. This will help you gain an understanding of the company's culture and values and allow you to tailor your responses to the interviewer's questions. You should also research the position you're applying for and make a list of the skills and experience required so you can prepare for the types of role-specific questions you may be asked.

The information you gather will be useful in answering questions and demonstrating your knowledge. Knowing the company’s origin or significant events in its history often impresses and goes down well. Social media is also a rich source of information, often unearthing material such as interviews or media coverage.

Look for information about the company’s products and services, how they are different from their competitors, and what its unique selling points are. This information will help you to understand the company's market position and how they fit into the wider industry. Product brochures, marketing materials, and websites are great places for this type of information, and you can also try industry-specific databases or publications to gather more detailed information.

They say, “it’s not what you know, it’s who you know”, so reach out to any personal contacts you have that currently work or have worked at the same company. This will certainly give you a different perspective on what it's like to work for the company, but make sure the person you speak to has the objectivity to make their insight valuable.

Prepare for Common Interview Questions

Fail to prepare and you’ll prepare to fail. No matter how easy some of these questions may sound, they can be tough to answer properly and so you should make sure you know how you’re going to respond. Research what some of the more common interview questions are and practice your responses with family or friends. This should help you feel more comfortable and confident answering these types of questions during an interview.

“Tell Me About Yourself”

“Why Do You Want to Work Here?”

“What Are Your Strengths and Weaknesses?”

“What Are Your Salary Expectations?”

Be brief and don’t be boring. You might be the last candidate at the end of a long day, so keep your answers short and engaging to ensure you keep your audience’s interest. Also, these questions don’t necessarily have a right answer, but can be designed to see how you respond under pressure, so think before you speak and stay calm.

Dress for Success

First impressions count when it comes to job interviews and one of the most important aspects of making a good first impression is how you look. Dressing appropriately for the job and the environment you’re hoping to work in can help you stand out from other candidates in a good way.

The appropriate attire can vary depending on the industry; if you’re applying for a job in a corporate environment, a suit and tie are probably wise. However, creative types tend to dress more casually. Make sure you have an idea of what’s appropriate to ensure you’re memorable for the right reasons.

It's not just about the clothes you wear - your grooming and hygiene are also important factors in making a good impression. Make sure to shower and brush your teeth before the interview and keep your hair neat. Take care when applying perfume or aftershave too, as interview rooms can sometimes be small, so too much can be overwhelming and distracting.

When it comes to accessories, less is often more. Avoid wearing too much jewellery or anything too flashy. Stick to simple, classic pieces that won't distract from your overall appearance.

Nonverbal Communication

When preparing for your face-to-face job interview, it's important to consider not only what you say but also how you say it. Your nonverbal communication can have a significant impact on the impression you make, and the one an interviewer is left with after you’re gone.

Eye contact can communicate a lot about how engaged and interested you are. During the interview, make sure to maintain eye contact with the interviewer, but don’t stare, as that’s sure to make people feel uncomfortable.

Facial expressions also convey a lot of information. A smile goes a long way and can help you appear friendly and approachable, while a furrowed brow can make you seem tense or worried. Try to maintain a relaxed and pleasant expression throughout the interview.

Posture and body language also need attention - sit up straight and avoid slouching or fidgeting to help you appear more alert and engaged in the conversation. Try to avoid crossing your arms or legs, as this can make you appear closed off or defensive. Just stay nice and relaxed.

Hand gestures and movement can be powerful tools for emphasising key points and demonstrating enthusiasm. However, don’t overdo it. Too many gestures can be distracting and make you appear nervous or unsure of yourself. Excessive movement can also be a distraction. Try to remain still and focused and if you need to shift positions or adjust your posture, do so slowly and deliberately.

Reviewing Your CV and Cover Letter

It’s important to review your CV and cover letter to make sure you’re well-prepared for the questions about your experience and skills that are sure to come your way. This is where you need to ensure you haven’t embellished too much and can easily recall accurate facts about your past career or education.

Highlight Relevant Experience and Skills using bullet points to make it easier for the interviewer to quickly see your key strengths. If you have any achievements or awards that are relevant to the job, make sure to include them.

Explain Employment Gaps or Career Changes and be honest about the reasons for the gaps or changes, highlighting any transferable skills that you gained during that time. This will show the interviewer that you are proactive and have a positive attitude towards challenges. Too many people think if they don’t talk about them, they didn’t happen, but being transparent is always best.

Address weaknesses or challenges you may have faced in your career if asked and, again, be honest about any areas where you may need improvement. Be sure to also highlight any steps you have taken to address these to show you are self-awareness and committed to personal and professional growth.

Prepare Questions to Ask the Interviewer

Asking thoughtful questions during a job interview can go a long way to demonstrating your interest in the position and the company, as well as helping you determine if the job and company are the right fit for you. However, it’s not all about you – the person interviewing may be all that stands between you and your dream job, so be sure to build rapport and find anything you might have in common, so they like you and want to give you a job.


Company Culture and Work Environment

  • What is the company culture like?
  • How does the company promote work-life balance?
  • What is the typical workday like?
  • What kind of team-building activities does the company offer?


Training and Professional Development Opportunities

  • What kind of training and development opportunities does the company offer?
  • How does the company support employee growth and development?
  • What kind of mentorship or coaching programs are available?
  • How does the company encourage employees to stay up to date with industry trends and best practices?

Performance Expectations and Goals

  • What are the key performance indicators for this role?
  • How will my performance be evaluated?
  • What are the expectations for this role in the short-term and long term?
  • What are the opportunities for advancement within the company?

Remember, the questions you ask during an interview should be tailored to the specific company and role. Use these questions as a starting point but be sure to personalise them based on your research and the information you gather during the interview.

Final Preparations

It may go without saying, but failure to turn up on the right day or at the right place will make your part in the recruitment process a short one. Before the interview, make sure to confirm the date, time, and location of the interview and double-check any instructions they may have given you, such as what to bring, the dress code, or any other specific preparations needed.

Arriving early will give you time to compose yourself and prepare mentally for the interview. Even the best-laid plans can go awry, with traffic, unfamiliar areas, and other things outside of your control that can impact your timings. Being late is usually frowned upon, so make sure you plan and save yourself unnecessary last-minute stress on the day.

Finally, make sure to bring all the necessary documents and materials with you to the interview, such as a copy of your CV, a portfolio of your work, and any certificates or qualifications relevant to the job. Keep them on hand so you can easily access them when needed. A notepad and pen can also be useful for taking notes and showing how organised you are.

Apache Associates are specialists in IT and Sales recruitment, and we pride ourselves in treating every candidate as a unique individual and go above and beyond to match the right people with the right role. We have a clear approach to recruitment based on people, not on numbers. Our clients receive a friendly and cost-effective service from experienced recruitment specialists designed to provide qualified candidates fast and effectively and we invest time to understand each candidate to ensure we offer openings that meet their dreams and aspirations.


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