Interview Prep – The Working Mum way!
As you are probably aware from my recent posts I have started a new job and as I write this I am in my first week and it is already busy, busy, busy…but I am still very excited to get into the role. However I’ve realised that I never finished telling you my interview process and what I do to prepare for an interview. Read on if you want to know more.
1. Planning my interview outfit – for me this takes place sometimes a week or two before the interview. Mainly because I haven’t got a big wardrobe (actually it is kinda getting bigger) and I want to know that I have my outfit washed, ironed and ready for the day. I don’t think you always have to wear a jacket or even a skirt/ trousers suit to an interview. A nice blouse/shirt with a skirt or trousers will look equally smart and if you are in the creative industry you can play around with your look a lot more. Basically you have to be comfortable in it and something you know you look good in, so asking the opinion of your partner or a close friend is always helpful. In my interview for my new job, I wore a pencil dress, with a smart black jacket over. Try your outfit with the shoes and have everything hanging and ready to wear the night before or earlier if you can (there is a good reason for this with kids).
2. Practice dummy questions – Try to re-read the job description/ person spec and your submitted application or CV. I will compare them and draw out what is in my CV that matches with the role. I will also run through dummy questions they may ask and prepare a response in my mind. I have a notebook which I updated myself with interview questions I have asked in previous interviews and the answers I gave (see my writing my job application post). Before my notebook I got questions off the Internet and I would role play by asking myself the questions and giving the answer as if in the interview, sometimes in front of the mirror (hee hee – sounds strange but works). I find speaking out aloud to myself a great way to hear how your answer sounds and also if you are prone to waffling. I pretend I am in the interview, I might as well mess up my answers while I’m alone. I think this is also my method of calming my nerves and getting into the right head space.
Remember the questions they will ask may be completely different but it helps you get in the right mindset and think broader in terms of the experience you have to bring in to the role. It also gets you use to answering questions about yourself. Please keep responses positive and if you get stuck on a question, which is not clear to you, you can ask the interviewer(s) to elaborate on it further.
3. Prepare MY questions – interviews are not just for the employer they are for the employee also, this is your chance to see if you want to work for them also. I always have questions prepared for me to ask in the interview, with regards to the role, their expectations of the candidate in the first month, anything that wasn’t clear in the job description. Don’t think you have to stick to script either if they say something in the interview and you want to know more about, then ask. As a working mum I always ask about their flexible working policy. However this can be a tricky question as I never know when is a good time to ask this, so I mostly wait until I have been offered the job and then I’ll ask.
I don’t ask more than 3 or 4 questions here. If they have answered all my questions during the interview, then I would usually say that “I had prepared some questions but they have more or less been answered”.
4. To relax and prepare my mind – I know that my morning routine on the day of the interview will be just as manic as normal and sometimes I have to go work and then interview later, so I prepare everything the night before, the kids clothes are organised and hung up (this is my usual nighttime routine). I would organise my route to the interview and checked everything I need for the day is in my bag (including tissues).
I am extra strict with my children’s bedtime for that night, as I need the down time. I will try to have a bath and relax after with a book or a light hearted show (something funny is perfect) on TV and then into bed at a decent time (not that I always fall asleep on schedule, so sometimes I’m exhausted at interview…but let’s not focus on this). I set my alarm for the next day and I am good to go.
5. Day of the interview – I try to keep my routine as normal as possible, which includes a bit of exercise (now my miracle morning). This helps calm my mind tremendously. I would wake up earlier if I had to leave earlier and made plans with hubby regarding this. I try to get to the interview about 30mins or so early, just so I can relax before I go in and I am not rushing in after being late. Although I have been late for an interview before and fortunately got the job (phew..)
Finally, just take some deep breaths, calm down by focusing on your breathing…”Don’t think, just do” – your ready now… Let the interview commence – who knows you better than you and that’s who you’re selling!