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The surprise interview - how to be prepared

Thu, 06/07/2018 - 09:48
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It's not a common occurrence, but it does happen: you're applying for one job (or several) and waiting to hear if you've got an interview. You get the call and your relief and excitement quickly turn to panic as they tell you they want to see you in two hours. What do you do?

Many people may look in horror at the state of their clothes/shoes/hairs/nails, and scrabble around for their CV and anything they can find on the employer but don’t process anything because they are too nervous to read. Or they may think that the short notice gets them off the hook with regard to how prepared they need to be, and do nothing.

While most employers will make some allowance for last-minute call-ups, this is a chance for you to shine, and if you really want the job you'll want to do your best no matter what the circumstances. So rather than hoping for the best or doing eleventh-hour cramming, put a contingency plan in place. Here are four key tips to follow so you are ready when that all-important call arrives:

1. Keep a folder on every application. Simple advice, but having everything in one place will save you vital time. Include:
● Any job descriptions
● The tailored version of your CV that you sent to them - so you can refer quickly to your experiences and strengths and weaknesses
● A copy of your cover letter and or application form
● Any notes you made: about the role, why you're suited to it and what about it especially appeals to you
● Any contacts that you could call on to offer advice last minute or mention in your interview

2. Dress (daily) to impress. Wear interview-ready attire every day and keep a comb/make-up/a toothbrush in your bag or at work. You may not have time to pop home or to the shops.

3. Make honing your interview technique a way of life. Read interview tips online, think often about your answers to common interview questions, do mock interviews.

4. Remember to take a minute to breathe. No amount of planning will quell those last-minute nerves completely – whether it's listening to your favourite playlist or calling a friend for a pep-talk, take a minute to relax whilst you're on your way to the interview.

While you can't prepare for every eventuality, and you certainly don't want to spend too long planning for an interview that may never materialise, much of the above is a matter of getting into the right mindset when it comes to your job search. So don't go overboard with preparing specific materials, but do be organised. You'll be honing your job-seeking skills, which will give you greater confidence and make you more impressive in the long run.

Sources: Abintegro, The Muse

The views and opinions expressed in this blog are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Pearson


Hi there, I'm Charlotte and I joined Pearson in September 2017 after graduating from Royal Holloway where I studied French. During my degree I spent a year abroad teaching English and interning at the French parliament. Outside the office I enjoy going to the gym, shopping , visiting museums and going to the cinema with my friends, as well as walking my (not-so-small) puppy, Max!

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