Effective interview preparation will help you to secure your ideal role, progress your career and achieve your full potential. However, many people find interviews to be uncomfortable and stressful because they are being asked to discuss their personal situation in an unfamiliar environment.

Perhaps you feel uneasy at the prospect of attempting to “sell yourself” to a prospective employer, particularly when you don’t make a habit of telling complete strangers how wonderful you are! The good news is that there are some really simple things you can do (and avoid) to maximise your chances of securing your next health and safety job.

Preparation

Most companies will not expect you to know much more than the basics of their business, so memorising company facts and figures is likely to be a waste of time. It’s far more productive to use your research time to consider the structure of the organisation and how your skills and experience will fit with the needs of the business.

Understanding the role in the context of the wider organisation will show that you understand the purpose of the job and will enable you to answer interview questions clearly and concisely. As part of your preparation, I recommend thinking of 3-4 relevant examples you can draw upon to demonstrate your suitability for the role. Try to use the STAR technique (Situation, Task, Action, Result) to ensure that examples are well structured and focused.

Presentation

Being well-presented is about more than dressing appropriately for your interview – try to think about the overall impression you give to a potential employer. If you get the basics wrong, you will create obstacles and significantly reduce your chances of securing a job offer.

Bear in mind that the interviewer will be making their decision based on what they see and hear from you on the day, so it’s essential that you give a good account of yourself. Qualifications and technical ability in isolation are usually not enough to secure a new job. Employers must consider how you will fit with their team, how you will interact with customers and how you will represent the organisation.

A cautionary tale…

Just last week I had a situation where an executive-level candidate arrived late and flustered, his phone rang during the interview and went on to openly criticise several of his former employers. His excellent technical ability and industry experience eventually counted for nothing. He left a poor overall impression and the employer lost confidence in him as he sowed seeds of doubt with the interview panel and created questions and concerns around his timekeeping, organisational skills and attitude.

The perfect interview

When you arrive at your interview well-prepared and well-presented, you will feel confident and relaxed, which in turn will make it easier to answer questions, maintain focus and build rapport with the interviewer.

You need to show the interviewer that you can not only do the job, but that you also have the right attitude, personal qualities and soft-skills, all of which can be demonstrated through your effective interview preparation and presentation.