Preparation is the key – 5 tips for nailing your job interview

Ange Connor

Job interviews are nerve racking and all too often are associated with sweaty hands, stumbling over your words, having mental blanks, being too nervous to look the interview panel in the eye and a racing heart. Sound familiar? Very few people enjoy attending a job interview but if you are looking for a new position, nailing your interview is crucial for career success.

But how can you prepare for an interview when you don’t know what you are going to be asked at interview. Can you really prepare for the unknown? Absolutely you can! If you want to ace your interview; preparation is the key.

Don’t want to feel like you are in the hot seat at your next job interview? Follow our top 5 tips for interview success.

1. Review the key selection criteria in the position description 

You are never going to be able to guess exactly what questions you are going to be asked at interview. Instead of trying to think of every interview question under the sun and preparing an answer, focus on knowing and understanding the requirements of the role. Have examples prepared from your past experiences that demonstrate your skills in each particular area. Invest the time in having these examples fresh in your mind so that you can recall them easily at the interview. More often than not it’s the struggle to recall an appropriate example at interview that causes the heart to race and those seconds of silence while you try and think of an example seem like hours.

2. Research, research and research again 

Everyone knows to research the company in preparation for your interview. There is nothing worse than being asked what do you know about company XYZ and having to answer with nothing. In today’s world with google at our fingertips there is no excuse for not being able to answer this question. Because the internet makes life so easy for us, simply reciting a few key points from a company’s website no longer makes you stand out from the crowd. Think outside the square. Get creative. Do some real research that demonstrates your initiative and shows that you have made an extra effort to find out about the company. How do you do this? Ask around. Someone in your network is sure to know someone who knows someone who can give you a different insight or feedback. Check out the management team on Linked In or other social media channels. Read media articles about the company. Research and review their marketing and their key messages – not just from their website.

3. Mindfulness 

Mentally preparing yourself in the lead up to the interview and on the day is crucial to get your mindset right. You need to be in the right head space to nail your interview. Be aware of how you feel and specifically is causing you to feel anxious. When you understand what’s driving your nerves you can address them and try to eliminate or at least reduce the issue. How you do this is going to be individual to you and you’ll know how to achieve your own mindfulness. Maybe you need to focus on controlling your breathing, for others it will be about visualising yourself in the interview. Make sure you leave time for this just prior to your interview. You certainly don’t want to be running from one environment to another to your interview. Build in time prior to your interview to do something that will get you in the right head space. Maybe that’s taking a walk in the park or having a coffee at your local café. Do whatever works for you.

4. Dress to Impress 

Give some thought to what you are going to wear to interview and if need be invest the dollars and buy a new outfit if you don’t have anything appropriate. Dressing to impress is crucial for a few different reasons and giving it some preparation time prior to your interview will be worth it. Presenting for interview in appropriate business attire or whatever clothing is suitable for the position and company you are applying to will make a positive impression with the potential employer. Sometimes that little bit of added effort in suiting up can make all the difference in impressing the interviewer. The other benefit of being well dressed is it will give you confidence. Power dressing works. Maybe it is a jacket you really like and feel comfortable in. It could be the colour of an item of clothing that gives you confidence. When you feel good in what you are wearing it significantly impacts how we present ourselves and our demeanour.

5. Be prepared to swap roles and become the interviewer

Have some great hard hitting questions to ask the interviewer/s. You may be able to ask them throughout the interview or you’ll get the opportunity at the end to ask questions. Or take control of the situation and let them know you have some questions you would like to ask. This is your one chance to gather information. You don’t want to walk out of that interview and go and sit back in your car wishing you had of asked something you wanted to know more about. Think outside the square. Don’t just ask the standard questions like what is the hourly rate or salary or when do you want someone to start. Show me you have really thought about the company and the position and ask me some questions that show me your intelligence. You need to interview the company equally as much to ensure it’s the right company and job for you.


Being prepared across each of these 5 key areas will make you stand out from the crowd at interview but most importantly you’ll feel much more prepared. When we are prepared and confident in the work we have done to get to the interview table, we execute our delivery of responses to a much higher standard. Put yourself in the shoes of an elite athlete. Training intensively for a major event or competition is crucial for their success. You never see an elite sportsperson attend a competition without an intense preparation/training program. Apply that same theory to your next interview. Be sure to let me know if it makes a difference in helping you land your dream job. I’d love to hear your feedback and if our tips have worked for you.

About The Author
Ange Connor

Ange is the Founder and Director of Inspire HQ, one of regional Victoria’s leading recruitment, human resource (HR) and careers agencies. Ange is an ‘ideas’ person and a ‘big picture’ thinker. She loves to challenge the status quo – in fact, that’s how Inspire HQ began.

Ange has supported hundreds of businesses across Ballarat and regional Victoria to attract, engage, motivate, develop and retain their greatest assets; their people. Ange’s unyielding passion and invaluable knowledge of the recruitment and HR industry ensures she delivers the best solutions for her clients.

Ange has held various board positions and regularly volunteers her time to share her industry and market knowledge. She was recently a Councillor for the Victoria and Tasmania region of the Recruitment Consulting and Staffing Association (RCSA) of Australia and New Zealand, and she is a current Board Director of the Committee for Ballarat.

For more useful information, follow Ange on LinkedIn.

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