For the purpose of this exercise, we’re going to assume that you have been given ten days’ notice. Here’s a rough guide to where your efforts should be invested each day.
If you haven’t already done so, accept the interview invitation. Record the time, date and location somewhere that will be easy to find, for example on your phone calendar, with an alert. Don’t forget to add the name of the contact you’ve been asked to report to. Read through the details you’ve been sent. Will there be tests or assessments? Do you have to give a presentation? Who is on the interview panel?
Read through the job description and person specification again. Highlight key aspects and make a list of essential skills and attributes. Do you tick all the boxes or are there gaps? Work out how your experience links to the role, and what examples you can give to back this up.
Following on from Day 2, try to address any gaps in your skills and personal qualities. Perhaps you will need to use a particular type of software that is new to you. Could you sign up for a free trial to learn the basics, or ask someone who has more knowledge to give you a tutorial? Or maybe you are lacking managerial experience. Could you take charge of a local club or church ministry?
Do some general research on the company. Read the website and take notes of important details. Research any current industry news and find out about their key products, customers and markets. Get a feel for the company size and culture. What are their main growth opportunities? What jumps out to you about the company’s practices and ethos? How does it fit with your style and outlook? Do you have any questions? Note these down.
Decide what you’re going to wear for your interview. Make sure you dress smartly, even if the interview has been described as an ‘informal chat’ or is happening over Skype. Check that you have everything you need so there are no last-minute panics to find tights or cufflinks! Ensure that everything is clean, ironed and polished.
Practise answering some of the most common interview questions, for example: “What are your strengths and weaknesses?”, “What attracted you to this role?” and “Where do you see yourself in five years’ time?”
Refamiliarise yourself with your CV. Make sure you can talk about your experience confidently and without too much hesitation. Remember that your aim is to convince the hiring manager that you can do this specific role, so keep it relevant and avoid waffle.
Work out how to get there. The last thing you want on the day is to get lost or arrive late. It may even help to do a practice run. How long does it take to get there? What mode of transport will you use? Does your route involve a lot of walking (make sure you have comfy shoes, if so)? Can you park on site?
Review your notes and practise answering the questions again, perhaps in front of the mirror so you can focus on your body language. You might want to wear your interview gear for this as a sort of dress rehearsal. Spend the rest of the day relaxing if you can, and get an early night.
Day 10: the interview
Hurrah! The day has arrived and you’re as prepared as you can be. Don’t forget to take any documents you’ve been asked to present, along with a copy of your CV and the job description. Be professional from the moment you walk in (on time!) until the moment you leave. Remember to ask the questions you have prepared. Try to relax and smile at the right moments, maintaining good eye contact throughout. And don’t forget to turn your phone off!