Interviews can be intimidating, and having a good system in place to prep for job interviews is essential. From knowing what to wear to how to handle sensitive subjects, job interviews are full of formalities, emotions, and questions.
Preparing for a Job Interview
To help you make the most of your time in front of hiring managers, consider the following tips.
— Start With Research
You probably did some research before applying, but now is the time to kick your efforts into high gear. Scour social media and the company’s website for insight into workplace culture, current projects, and future goals. Run a Google search to check for any recent news. Contact network connections who might be able to provide input.
If possible, follow companies of interest on Facebook or Twitter to stay up to date on their latest happenings and get a sense for how they interact with the public. Be prepared to answer questions like, “What do you know about our company?” and “What attracted you to our business?” and “What did you think about our big news last week?” The more you know about a company, the better prepared you’ll be to demonstrate your sincere interest during the job interview.
The employer is ultimately looking for passionate, creative, and productive employees, and you’ll communicate this to them with your company knowledge. Plus, if you feel confident about the company and wanting to work there, this natural enthusiasm will shine through during the interview.
— Research the Interviewer
Understanding who will be interviewing you is a great way to prepare for a job interview. Search LinkedIn for the interviewer’s profile. See if they’re active on Twitter. Check if they have a bio on the company website.
It helps to know what the person looks like, but having some background information on them can help as well. Maybe you have some of the same connections, or you even went to the same school. These commonalities can put both of you at ease during the interview, and may even give you a leg up on the competition.
— Prepare Your Answers
To prepare for your job interview, come up with memorable answers to common interview questions, tough interview questions, explanations about employment gaps and transferable skills, and stories and numbers that back up your qualifications.
In relation to the job you are being interviewed for, consider rare skills or experiences that could be applicable. Think about how these skills or experiences apply to the position, how you would use these in the job, and how you would use them to help the company.
This may be your dream job, but consider if you are missing a skill or two. The employer has most likely noticed this too. Make sure you know what these skills are and provide examples of how you can overcome it. Think about ways you can obtain the skills or experience to support the job.
Lastly, practice your interview answers out loud. Say your responses aloud until they flow from the tongue. Enlist a trusted friend to act as the interviewer and provide feedback. Consider videotaping your practice session to evaluate factors such as posture and eye contact. (Learn more about using the STAR Method for interviews.)
— Prepare Questions to Ask
Thinking of the right questions to ask is an important part of job interview preparation. Draw from your research to create thoughtful interview questions that demonstrate sincere interest in the position and the company. For example:
- If I’m hired, what are the three most important things you will want me to accomplish during my first six months at the company?
- What are the biggest challenges of this job?
- What kinds of people fit best with the company culture?
Also ask for clarification about something you read or for more information on an intriguing project. Generating conversation makes the interview livelier. And as the interview takes place, if something intrigues you, try to revisit it during this time.
— Take Care of Details
The morning of the interview isn’t the time to discover there’s a difference between Jefferson Street and Jefferson Avenue—or that your internet connection isn’t strong enough to support a video conference.
If your interview is in person, fully map out your journey from home to the interview’s location. An actual trip to the site a day or so before the interview will provide clues about commute time, parking or bus stops, and construction. Scout out a nearby coffee shop or park that you’ll be able to wait at if you’re early to the interview.
If the interview is via phone or video, test drive your technology, make sure your computer is working and your internet connection is strong. Pick a quiet spot to have the interview, and remove any distractions (turn off your computer, put away random objects on your desk, etc.). Also make sure you know your video conferencing login is functioning properly. Technical glitches can be stressful, and you want to remain as calm as possible before your interview.
— Plan Your Outfit
For an interview, you want to dress in neat business attire. It’s not a bad idea to dress more professionally than you would on the job. Slacks and a nice shirt are appropriate for everyone.
You may have a few interview outfits that you rotate through, but don’t leave this part of your preparation for the day of your interview. Pull everything out and ensure clothing fits and isn’t wrinkled. Set out any accessories and shoes. This will allow you to simply grab and go on interview day.
While you’re at it, be sure your keys, phone, portfolio, extra copies of your resume, and any other pertinent material is ready to go. You’ll get a better night’s sleep knowing you’re prepared!