Preparation, Preparation, Preparation. The key to being hired

How to get hired for the job you want

So, you’ve sharpened up your CV, you’ve written that winning cover letter, and you’ve submitted the supporting documents required – and now you’re being invited to interview: the final hurdle, where first impressions count and you can’t hide behind a paper (or digital) version of yourself.

You may have made it to this crucial stage in the recruitment process, but you’ve been here before – only to be overlooked by someone with “more experience”, or someone who seemed more prepared to hit the ground running. However, what if we told you there is a relatively simple way to make it through ‘crunch time’, and give you a greater chance of getting hired into that dream role you’ve been chasing?

When working towards your dreams and end goal, it takes preparation. No matter how impossible you think that goal might be, you need to put in the groundwork. So, how can you ‘put in the groundwork’ where your future career is concerned? In this blog, you’ll learn 5 ways to make a great impression, upping your chances of being hired and landing the job role of your dreams – purely through the art of preparation.


1. Read background material

It’s likely you researched the company you’re interviewing for earlier in the recruitment process – when you were writing a cover letter, or deciding whether it was a role you wanted to apply for.

However, it’s absolutely vital to build on and refresh your research findings prior to the interview process, so you can thoroughly understand as much background information about the organisation and job role as possible. By committing to background research, you may find out some unique features of the role or company that really excite you, but also some information that could come up in the interview. Remember, interviews are all about presenting yourself as an impressive candidate, and someone who’s clearly done their homework tends to leave a positive stamp on the minds of interviewers.

Every interviewee should start by visiting the organisation's website to understand who they are and what they do. Failing to understand the organisation or job role is cited as one of the biggest reasons why employers reject candidates. Use the below as a checklist to make sure you have all bases covered when completing your background research on the company you’re interviewing for:

  • Check the company website and general news sites for any relevant updates
  • Read over the company website. In particular, the ‘About Us’ section (or mission statement), news and media press releases, organisational culture and key staff members
  • Have a good understanding of what they do, their market, competitors and partners. It will help you answer the question, “Why do you want to work here?”
  • Know about the company’s current strengths and weaknesses, and how it compares to competitors
  • Check its social media presence on all platforms
  • Check the online presence of key staff members (CEO, directors, managers, etc.) and interviewers, if you know their names
  • Read over the reviews on sites such as Glassdoor or LinkedIn. These reviews can give useful tips on the recruitment process
  • Use your network to learn about the company
  • Understand the job description and expectations
  • Look up any unfamiliar terminology
  • Review online discussion boards or forums that discuss similar positions.
  • When invited to an interview, contact HR or your recruiter (if applicable) to find out as much specific information as you can to help you prepare

Look at how they work, what they’re good at, particular projects they’re known for, and mentally verbalise why it aligns with where you want to be – or who you want to work for.


2. Consider how you’re presenting yourself

Experts in interpersonal communication have estimated that nonverbal communication makes up around 80% of the impressions we leave on others, with 35% coming from our tone of voice, and 45% contributed by facial expressions and posture.

With this in mind, it stands to reason that presentation skills and subtle mannerisms may ultimately be the difference between whether we’re hired or not. Whether it’s the tone or excitement in the way we answer interview questions, how energetically we gesticulate when we talk, or even the clothes we wear or how we sit in our seat, our behaviours tell an interviewer a lot about ourselves. Remember, you’re making a first impression, and first impressions count.

When you finally land an interview at the job you want, make sure any nerves or anxiety is kept in check with preparation, allowing you to communicate your intentions and wishes clearly without the use of words.

Small actions can give away things we don’t intend to reveal. Leaning too far back may indicate hostility or laziness while leaning too far forward can indicate a disagreeable nature. You could be crossing your arms to warm yourself up from the cold, but this may inadvertently send a nonverbal statement that you’re feeling resistant or are less approachable. Without using words, it’s likely your interviewers won’t know the difference.

Practising in front of a mirror – or via video call with a trusted friend – can help identify some of your nervous tics or traits you may be unaware of. Start here and make a mental note to dress smart, sit up straight, keep natural eye contact and smile during your interview – a few small visual cues to demonstrate that you’re engaged, keen and dedicated to the interview and the role.


3. Familiarise yourself with your application

In today’s world of job-seeking, it’s likely that you’ve applied to dozens of roles before obtaining an interview invitation – each with a different cover letter and tailored CV to the role. In the days before your interview, it’s therefore worth reading back over your application for this role – and the job description and advert – to familiarise yourself with the characteristics and skills your potential employer is looking for, and to make sure any answers to questions posed during the application process are consistent with the interview.

Make sure you look out in particular for keywords, and think about scenarios that demonstrate how you may have put this into practise. This will help set you up for your next mode of preparation: interview questions.


4. Practise interview questions – especially the odd ones

Hesitating before answering a difficult question is a natural part of the interview process, however if you’re pausing before answering several questions it might signify to your interviewer that you’ve arrived at the interview ill-prepared.

There are a number of different types of interview questions that interviewers can ask, some of which are created solely to throw you off of your game – no matter how hard you’ve practised. The risk of this happening is greatly decreased though if you run through interview questions beforehand, practising your answers against the role and company you’re interviewing for. There are eight basic types of questions you may face during the course of your interview:

  • Credential verification questions (“How long were you at X?”, “How long have you been in Y role?”)
  • Experience verification questions (“What were your responsibilities in that position?”)
  • Opinion questions (“What is your greatest weakness?”)
  • Behavioural questions (“Can you give me a specific example of how you did that?")
  • Competency questions (“Can you tell me about a time where you demonstrated Z skill?”)
  • Brainteaser questions (“How many tennis balls could you fit in a limousine?”)
  • Case questions (“How many petrol stations are there in Europe?”)
  • Nonsense questions (“Who would win in a fight – a badger or a baboon?”)

 It’s worth pointing out that even if after all of this preparation a question still completely stumps you, it’s perfectly acceptable to request a few seconds to consider your answer – just make sure to verbalise it with your interviewers.


5. Flip the interview on its head

Shift your side of the dynamic by taking a non-traditional approach to interviewing, and act like you already have the job, or even that you’re the one interviewing them.

Remember: the company and role are just as much at trial during an interview as you are. As a professional, regardless of seniority level, it’s important for your personal growth that a particular role serves your needs and goals as much as you may fit into theirs. Prepare questions you’d like answered based on your values and needs, and you’ll display ownership of your own value and confidence – two of the top traits hiring managers seek

You can also put together some add-on answers to key interview questions as though you already have the job. This helps you get into the mind of the interviewer, who is trying to mentally place you in that role as they ask you questions. Relate to their mindset by giving them what they want: if they’re asking how you would solve a particular problem in a previous role, extend this answer to suggest how you might solve that problem in the job role you’re interviewing for.


Get ready to get hired

The time between being invited to interview and the appointment itself offers the most crucial opportunity to secure success – by spending the time preparing effectively, you’ll be able to better shape your first impression, ensuring it’s a positive one. Engaging in these five steps of research, perfecting your presentation, familiarising yourself with the job role, practising interview questions and adapting your perspective will give you confidence in the interview process, proving you can hit the ground running and up your chances of being the winning candidate. Ultimately, the key to being hired is to prepare fully and to put yourself into the shoes of the hiring manager or interviewer. Now go and prepare, and good luck!

As specialist recruiters in Malta, BOSTON LINK has established relationships with leading employers in Malta and around Europe. Check out our full list of vacancies where you can filter by location, specialism or salary, or get in touch if you need help preparing for entering a new job market in 2021.