The date is set, you’ve underlined it twice in your diary and spent the last few days planning your outfit. Yet as the interview draws closer, you spend your lunch break reading countless articles about power poses and feel your positive attitude slowly ebbing away. Here at Aspire we know all about pre-interview nerves and are here to help.

In a bid to help you make this the year you find your dream job, we asked 320 of the biggest names in digital, media and marketing to share the most common mistakes they see. The result? Most candidates fail before leaving the meeting room after turning up unprepared or having not researched the company.

Don’t panic, we’ve all been there. In order to inject some positivity into your job hunt, we’ve come up with a few top tips to make sure you’re not falling at the first hurdle.

1. Treat your job interview like you would a Tough Mudder

You wouldn’t enter a race without training, so why turn up to a job interview without doing any homework. We’re not saying stalk the CEO’s holiday snaps on Facebook, but have a browse of the website, download recent press releases, learn about the company culture by looking at their social profiles and work out where you’d fit in. Make use of your Aspire consultant - many of our clients have been clients over many years, so we can give you insight into what they look for from their employees, their culture and give you pointers on what preparation you should be doing.

2. Yesterday’s news is today’s interview fodder

One way to prove you’ve done your homework is to give praise where praise is due. A quick Google news search will usually tell you whether the company (or your interviewee) has been nominated for any awards, or got something to celebrate. If you’d rather stick to something more subtle, just displaying a level of knowledge about the company’s product or services will also impress. For this kind of information, the company LinkedIn page or press release section are always good places to search.

3. Have a few examples up your sleeve

Ahh, the ‘what makes you want to work for us’ question. Prepare a few relevant examples of projects the company have worked on to show you’ve done more than scroll through their blog. Think outside the box – you don’t want to disappear into the crowd by giving textbook answers.

4. Go back to the job spec

Remember that job specification we sent you a few weeks ago? Dig it out and have another read. If a client wants to interview you, they obviously think you’re a good fit for the job, so prove it. Create a ‘job shopping list’ with what the company’s requirements are on one side and your own matching achievements and experience on the other. Have relevant, quantifiable results to back up what you are saying and leave the interviewer in no doubt that you are the strongest candidate.

5. Don’t be a know it all

We don’t think you can ever be too prepared, but don’t let your homework go to your head. Nobody likes to have their hard work criticized and one sure fire way to get off on the wrong foot is to appear arrogant. Experts suggest listening to the interviewer’s language and mirroring that; if they focus on targets and performance, mirror this in answers to other questions.

6. Ask questions

Another mistake that came up was a candidate’s lack of questions. What you say in the last two minutes can make or break the interview, so be sure to prepare. Don’t ask anything obvious (you should already know the answer from doing your homework), or mention salary, but get a better understanding of the role and your future in it. Our final piece of advice, take a deep breath and be yourself. Putting in proper preparation beforehand could make all the difference. Congratulations on securing an interview!

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