So, you have a job interview coming up? Congratulations! You are probably excited about the interview, and maybe a little nervous. How should you prepare for what is coming up? What do you need to do to ensure your interview is a success?
Preparation is key to presenting yourself well in a job interview. Preparing in advance will help you anticipate any eventualities and allow you to rehearse what you are going to say.
In this guide, we’re going to discuss how to effectively prepare for your next job interview so that you can position yourself as the best candidate for the job.
Step #1: Read the job description
One of the most important parts of preparing for a job interview is reading over the job posting. You will already have read over this when applying for the job, but it never hurts to spend some extra time reviewing the requirements and responsibilities in the job listing.
Take note of all the skills and experience that the company is looking for in an ideal candidate. Now consider how your past experiences align with these needs. This will help you further down the line when you start to think about examples of your past work that you want to mention in your interview.
Step #2: Research the company
You should spend some time researching the company for which you are interviewing. This will give you some useful background on how the company works and its values, which will help you better understand what you can expect if you are hired. Also, going into an interview with some knowledge of the company will allow you to ask more relevant questions.
Your research should focus on two main areas. First, you want to know about the company culture. You can do this by reading over the company’s website, blog, and social media pages. This will help you develop a firmer understanding of how the company treats its employees. You can use this information to make a more informed choice about whether the company’s culture aligns with your own goals.
Next, spend some time exploring the company’s products or services. You don’t need to become an expert on everything the company offers, but it helps to have a basic understanding of the main products and services.
This information will help you get a better sense of the projects you could be contributing to if you are offered the job.
Step #3: Prepare for common interview questions
An interviewer could ask you a wide range of questions, and it’s impossible to prepare for every single one. However, there are a few interview questions that come up often in job interviews and that you should practice.
Here are a few questions that are commonly asked in job interviews:
- What is your main strength?
- What is your main weakness?
- Why do you want to work for our business?
- Tell us about yourself.
To practice, you may want to ask a friend or a family member to ask you these questions. Practice interviews allow you to recreate the interview environment and prepare for the intensity and unpredictability of a typical job interview.
If you don’t know anyone who can help you, rehearse the answers by yourself out loud. This will help you improve your answers and boost your confidence.
Step #4: Consider what makes you the best candidate for the job
Employers use interviews to determine which candidate is best for the job, which means you have one goal: to sell yourself and your unique abilities to the employer.
When preparing for a job interview, you should ask yourself why a company should hire you over someone else with similar qualifications. What is it that makes you stand out above everyone else?
The best way to do this is to consider your past experiences and come up with clear examples of how those experiences relate to the position you are applying. The more relevant your examples are, the easier an interviewer will be able to associate your prior work experience and the present needs of the business.
In your interview, you want to avoid underselling yourself. This is a time to be confident in yourself and your abilities. Even if you don’t fit every single requirement for a position, being confident and having examples of your past work experience will help you fill in the gaps and position yourself as the best candidate for the job.
Step #5: Make suitable travel arrangements
The last thing you want to worry about on the day of the job is how to make it to the company where the interview is taking place.
In the days prior to the interview, research how you are going to get there. Are you going to drive? If so, what time do you need to leave to make it to your interview on time? Are you going to take a bus? If that is the case, which bus will take you closest to the company’s office.
You should make sure that you leave as early as you can on the day of your interview. This will reduce the chance that any unexpected event — like a traffic accident or a bus delay — impacts your ability to show up on time. If you are driving to the interview, you may want to practice getting there beforehand so that you know the way.
Step #6: Print copies of important documents
Some interviewers print copies of your resume and cover letter before an interview, but others do not. That’s why it is a good idea to print copies of your resume, cover letter, and anything else you have submitted in your application.
Offering an interviewer a copy of your resume and cover letter shows that you are prepared for the interview. You should ideally print one copy for each person interviewing you. If you don’t know the number of people who will be in the interview, a good rule of thumb is to bring at least four copies of each document.
Step #7: Prepare some questions for the interviewer
The person interviewing you may ask if you have any questions about the business or the role.
This is an excellent opportunity to find out more about the company as well as the type of work you would be doing. In addition, asking questions in an interview shows that you have done your research.
The questions that you ask depend on what details you want to find out about the business. Here are a few example questions you could ask in an interview:
- What are the next steps in the hiring process?
- What does the day-to-day work look like for the person who will assume this role?
- How would you describe the company’s work culture?
- What are your long-term goals for a new hire in this position?
Step #8: Read over your notes
On the day of the interview, revise the notes you have taken so far about the company, and make sure to commit to mind all the key details.
Preparing for an interview is not like taking an exam: you don’t need to remember every fact about a business or the position for which you have applied. The last thing you want to do is memorize your answers to every question. Interviewers can usually tell if you are “reading from a script” or “reading from memory.”
Reading over your notes before the interview will ensure all the information you need to know is fresh in your memory. This should give you a boost of confidence as you walk into the job interview.
Step #9: Consider what to wear
Every detail, from your body language to your answers, will be evaluated by the interviewer. Your clothes are no exception.
If you show up in the wrong attire, you will appear unprofessional. At the very least, this will make you feel awkward during the interview; it may even discourage the company from reaching out to schedule another interview.
Prepare what you are going to wear the day before the interview. If you are unsure of what to wear, you can ask the company about its dress code. Alternatively, you can dress in business casual attire, which is widely accepted in job interviews.
Step #10: Sleep well
You don’t want to be the one candidate who lets out a yawn during the interview. To be successful in a job interview, you need to be awake and alert. The key is to get a good night’s sleep, even if you are stressed about the day ahead. Having a good night’s sleep will help you feel refreshed in the morning and give you the strength you need to get through your job interview successfully.
Like snowflakes, every job interview is different. No matter how much you prepare, something unexpected is bound to come up.
Preparing in advance will help you feel more calm and confident as you go into the interview. By following the tips in this article, you’ll have no trouble presenting yourself as a stand-out candidate.
About us: Career Karma is a platform designed to help job seekers find, research, and connect with job training programs to advance their careers. Learn about the CK publication.