Foolproof Job Interview Success – 4 Step Preparation Process

Photo by Headway on Unsplash

I wrote earlier (What Makes a great CV – 2 Differentiators to get you that Job) about how to improve your CV to secure a job interview.

What’s next though?; How do you ensure that this one shot goes smoothly during the crucial face to face part of the recruitment process.

It should be easy (!), all you need to do is convince the interviewer that you will make their life easier by them selecting you for the job. But how do you go about that?

For many years, all the interviews I went for consisted of me preparing to justify my work background, skills and accomplishments against the role. I was always on the back foot. Sometimes I convinced them and was offered the job; sometimes I wasn’t.

My last interview was for a role I really wanted, the stakes were higher than they had ever been before. I couldn’t be on the back foot for this one. I received some of the best interview advice I have ever heard from a friend. He showed me how to get on the front foot.

I was so amazed with such as simple and effective process, I wanted to put this into writing and share it with you all. (In case you are wondering, it worked for me and I got the job.)

The Process

Its all about preparation of course, but luckily it isn’t complicated and you can do this all for free with access to the internet.

By working through these 4 preparation steps in the days leading up to the interview, you will go into it ready to set the tone of what you want to cover in the interview.

  1. Business Context
  2. Role Challenges and Approach
  3. Key Areas and Aims
  4. Other Areas of Focus

The 4 Steps in Detail — Work through the 4 areas and take your notes

Step 1 — What is the Business Context?

The purpose here is to understand the viewpoint of the interviewers. By empathising and demonstrating knowledge of their challenges, you immediately engage with them.

Search online to find out:

  • What information about the company is on their website (History, where they have come from and current events?
  • Read the most recent CEO announcements for key company themes?
  • Read the most recent Company Report for key company themes?
  • Search LinkedIn to find out about company structure and individuals involved in the hiring process.
  • What information about the company is in the news?
  • What are the competitors doing and how might that impact them?
  • Anything about the customers in the news that is impacting the company (positive or negative)?

Step 2 — What do you believe the specific challenges of the role will be? And what will be your proposed approach?

  • Think through how any of the information in Step 1 impacts on the role directly or indirectly?
  • What will you bring to the job to tackle these challenges? Think big and show some of the skillsets you might bring to the role.

Step 3 — What are the 3 key job areas you would target based on the above? And what would you like to achieve?

Use this opportunity to show that you are engaged in the role and motivated to succeed.

  • By bringing 3 areas of aligned, thought through priorities, you show complete focus to delivering value to the business.
  • “What’s in it for them” (for the interviewers to know) — make it relevant and personal to them and how you can help them. Make them want to give you the role.

Step 4 — What areas do you plan to add value in addition to the main approach to the role?

  • Have you seen anything from Step 1 that you can support such as corporate events, wellbeing initiatives, etc.?
  • Despite excelling so far by showing how you align to the business and role needs in Steps 1–3, what icing on the cake do you bring that other candidates don’t have?

In the interview you need to be respectful that they have their process to go through but you can start at the introduction with something like: “I’ve prepared some information that I would like to share with you during the interview; if thats ok with you.” You can share what you prepared verbally or perhaps you might want to professionally write up a summary of your key points to share with them.

What do the 4 steps do?

You want to tell a story (not a literal one!) about you and your suitability for the role. The quickest way to do this is show that you understand the business, the role & the work ahead and then how you can deliver on that (steps 1–2). By summarising what you would do in the initial period of the job whilst providing other supplemental background/experience linking you and the role (steps 3–4), you’ve closed the gap between you and the role in the interviewer’s mind. I guarantee only the minority of people will come prepared to this degree and you will stand out from the other candidates.

This all allows you to discuss the future, rather than the past. You can show your enthusiasm to the work and challenges ahead. And by debating the future possibilities, you are connecting and building a working relationship with the interviewer, often the future manager.

Top Tip: Close the Gap, Stand out from the Crowd, Build a Relationship, Secure the Job

There are other indirect benefits of course to this approach. You demonstrate commitment to the role, that you can prepare an argument, that your attitude is right, and probably most importantly, that you can you can identify business need and create value adding actions to deliver.

Key Takeaways

  • Complete the 4 steps to guide your preparation
  • Summarise your findings to share on the day, either on paper or verbally
  • Respectfully ask to share your preparation during the interview
  • A systematic approach makes you stand out from the crowd and builds a future orientated relationship to help secure the job

Feel free to leave a comment below with your interview success stories. Best of luck with your next interview.

I’m a global corporate Talent & People Development leader trying to ‘get out more’ and share my experience with those looking to learn and develop their careers.

If you’re here to learn, I’m here to help.

You can find out more at
and on LinkedIn at

"Not Doing it for the Clicks" Stories based on my experiences; making sense of the world of work. Gen Xer - Technology/Personal Development/Careers/Talent

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