How To Prepare For An Interview (Everything You Need To Know!)
So, you have an interview coming up! That’s great news! But sometimes you are not quite sure of how to proceed or how to prepare for an interview. In today’s article you are going to see all the tips you need to fully prepare for success in the upcoming meeting. Let’s dive in!
Research The Company
You saw some jobs on Linkedin and applied. Now looking at your inbox, you’ve got a hit on your resume and a recruiter interested in talking to you about the position to see if you are a good fit. You are now thinking: how can I prepare for an interview at this company? Research it.
Review Their Site: This is the first and easiest thing you can do. Find out what their site is from the job description or do a quick Google search. Discover what the company does.
Mission and Vision statements: As you are going through the company’s site, visit the About Us page to review the mission and vision statements. Find out what drives this company. Some companies live by these statements, so it is important to understand them and see if they are aligned with your values and what you want to do in your career.
Products and Services: What does the company sell? Are they in the education segment and selling courses to businesses and individuals? Are they in the software business and selling project management solutions to other businesses? Read about the company’s products and get a good understanding of what they offer. Many interviewers commonly ask the question, “Could you tell me a little bit about our product/service?” “What do we do?” You need to do your homework here and have an answer up your sleeve.
Read Their Blogs: Blog articles can tell you a lot about a company, can give you many insights, and help you prepare for an interview. Blogs allow you to learn more about a company’s products/services, what they care about, and other things associated with that company. I highly suggest reading a few articles before going into an interview. This also gives you additional things to talk about during your conversation. It also shows that you did your homework about the company.
Social Media: Most companies have social media pages. The vast majority have a Facebook page, and many have Linkedin pages. Check them out. You can follow them on the social media platform and even see other jobs that are open.
News: Has there been anything in the news about the company? Google the company and see what news you can find about it. This is a great way to keep tabs on a company.
Colleagues, Friends, Connections Who Work There: Do you know anyone who works at the company? If yes, reach out to this person and ask a few short questions. You might ask, “How do you like working at (company)?” Mention that you will have an interview at the company. Put them in the loop. Your colleague or friend may even be able to refer you internally.
Market Stability: What does the market look like for the company? Is it booming, treading water, or just getting by? Learn what you can about the market a company is in.
Compare Your Experience To The Job Description
If you want to successfully prepare for an interview, this is something that you must do. I suggest opening your resume on half of the screen and opening the job description up on the other half. How do they match up?
Look For Skills Needed: What kind of skills are listed on the job description; what are needed to do the job? Do you have these skills? Make sure you see what is needed and then you can showcase those skills during an interview.
How well do your skills match: Be realistic; you may have a little experience in an area, but it may not be enough for what the company is looking for. Read the job description carefully to ascertain whether your skills are adequate for the job and do indeed match.
Prepare and Practice Responses
Interviewing is a skill and must be practiced to get better. Practicing your delivery is a great way to prepare for an interview. Here are some ways you can practice your responses.
Typical Interview Questions: There are a series of questions that normally pop up during an interview. Practicing for the main ones is a great way to prepare and get you ready for your upcoming interview.
- Tell me about yourself.
- What is your biggest strength and weakness?
- Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
- Why should we hire you?
- Why do you want to work here?
- What do you consider your biggest professional achievement?
- Why are you leaving your current job?
- What kind of work environment do you like best?
- How would your boss describe you?
- How would you describe yourself in 3 words?
- What do you like to do outside of work? What are your hobbies?
- What makes a good team player?
- What are your salary requirements?
- How do you deal with pressure or stressful situations?
- What questions do you have for me? (This is addressed further down in the article.)
Interview Questions Related To The Job Description
Be ready to be asked several questions related to the particular job you are interviewing for. Interviewers want to make sure you have the necessary knowledge to do the job. Knowing this, look over the job description and think about possible questions the interviewer could ask regarding the job description. Do your homework here. It is definitely worthwhile to think about this as you WILL be asked some of these questions.
Practice Telling Your Story: I can’t emphasize this enough. Practice, practice, practice. Get in front of the mirror and practice answering some interview questions. Also invite friends and family to judge your delivery. Be self-critical as well. Think about certain things you could deliver better. Get feedback from your friends and family as well. Whatever you can do to deliver your answers with success is a great way to prepare for an interview.
Dress To Impress
Whenever you have an interview, make sure you wear a professional outfit to go to your interview. Even if you know the company is a shorts and t-shirt type place, look your best. The same applies for remote interviews. If you have a Skype interview, make sure you dress up just as you would for an in-company interview. This is super important. First impressions count, and they last. You’ve only got one shot, so make it a solid one.
Whenever you have an interview at a company, make sure you get directions. Know how to get there.
Google the place: put it into your Google Maps or Waze and find out how to get there. Know how far it is and how long on average it takes to get there.
Source: Google Maps
Leave with plenty of time. You never know what can happen: flat tire, traffic accident, bad weather, or any other incident may impede you from arriving on time. Don’t risk it. Leave extra early.
It is also suggested you have the recruiters contact info with you just in case something does happen. If for some reason something does, drop the recruiter an email and a phone call.
What To Bring With You
Here are a few things that you should consider bringing with you. Bring a few extra copies of your resume, probably 3 or 4, so that you can distribute them to other members at the table in case they have not seen your resume yet. The recruiter and the rest of the panel, if present, should have done their homework and reviewed your resume, but this doesn’t always happen. It is best to have some spare copies just in case.
Besides having your resumes, you may want to bring along a tablet in case you want to show any of your work, a portfolio or any other info you deem relevant to the interview. It can’t hurt. Also have the contact information of your references at your fingertips just in case it is requested. It is better to have it and not need it than to not have it and need it.
Be Aware Of Your Body Language
In every interaction, whether verbal or non-verbal, body language and other cues can be interpreted in different ways. You need to be cautious to not give the wrong message. Here are a few pointers:
Confidence: It is important to be confident in your abilities and the way you deal with/handle yourself in the interview. But do not come across overly confident as this can appear arrogant, and that is not the lasting impression you want to make.
Interaction With Others: Every encounter you have with people in the office could be part of a test or could be mentioned to the recruiter or hiring manager later. Think about this: you arrive, and you greet the receptionist cordially and then ask where you should wait, etc. You are shown the waiting area and then you kindly thank the receptionist. Showing professionalism goes a long way toward a good impression. The recruiter may ask the receptionist what he/she thought of you and how he/she was treated by the candidate. Remember, this is not only with the receptionist, but can be with anyone throughout the company.
Posture / Body Language: Your body language can tell a lot about you. Here is a short video of things to avoid:
Looking at others when talking: It is very important to make eye contact when talking with others especially the recruiter. If you are looking down at the floor or off to the side, you may appear shifty, as if you are trying to hide something, or are lying. You do not want to transmit this message. No need to stare though. Make it natural.
Watch your Facial Reactions: You need to appear like someone they will want to work with at the company. Be courteous and smile. If you hear some bad news in the interview or something that is a real turn off, like the salary is far below what you are looking for, play it cool. Try not to give them that huge disappointed face. Always explore the opportunity; you never know, maybe the salary isn’t there but there could be other benefits to compensate the low salary or maybe something you could negotiate into the package.
Asking The Interview Questions
As mentioned above, you should definitely prepare some questions before the interview. This not only shows your interest, but also shows you did your homework, especially if you ask specific things about the company. Here are some common questions you can ask:
- What do you think are the most important qualities for someone to excel in this position?
- Could you walk me through what a typical day is like in this position.? What can be expected?
- What can be expected of me in the first 30/60/90 days?
- Could you tell me about your experience at the company? What is it like to work at your company? Could you talk about your company culture and what it is like to work there?
- Is there a career path for this position? What is the growth potential for this position?
- What do you like best about your company? Could you tell me one pro, one con, and one thing you would change with the snap of your finger?
- What are some challenges the company is facing?
- What makes you better than your competitors? Why?
- Do you have any hesitations about my qualifications?
- What are the next steps?
For a more in-depth look at these questions, check out Questions To Ask In An Interview.
Last Steps To Prepare For An Interview
OK, you’re almost there! To wrap things up in the interview, thank the recruiter for his/her time. Make sure you seem genuine when showing your gratitude. You could say something like,
“Thank you very much for your time and candor today sharing about the company. I greatly appreciate it.”
Post Interview Thank You Note
It is a best practice to send a post interview thank you email. This can increase your chances of getting called in for a second interview. Additionally, take the time to add anything you may have forgotten to mention during the interview. Think of things that are relevant to the position. Consider adding links to your project portfolio, articles you have posted, and other relevant content to the position.
This not only demonstrates your interest in the position, but also keeps your name fresh on the recruiter’s mind. Here is a sample you can use:
Thank you for taking the time to meet with me today. It was such a pleasure to learn more about (company name) and the (position name) role. From our talk, I believe that taking on this challenge would be a great way to start and grow my career, especially with a great company, and from what I have seen so far, a great team!
Since this job is in (specific field, e.g. Marketing, Business, etc), I have added a few links below that showcase my college experience and projects I have worked on outside of school:
URL (Add link to a project you deem relevant to the position)
URL (Do you have a design portfolio, Blog, Slideshare, or any other site that shows work relevant to the position. Add them.)
I look forward to hearing from you about the next steps in the hiring process. Please feel free to contact me if you have any further questions, need additional information or recommendations.
For more tips on how to write a post interview thank you email, check out the article on Thank You Email After Interview.
Preparing for an interview can seem like a lot of work, but the more you do it, the quicker it becomes. The first couple of interviews will take some time, but you’ll get the hang of it. Just remember though, it is extremely important to prepare for an interview. You want to put your best foot forward and present yourself well. You never know if this is the next job of your dreams, a stepping stone to it, or you might be indicated by the recruiter for another open position within the company.
Failing to plan and prepare will lead to nothing. Plan, prepare, and practice and have a great interview.
Have you prepared for an interview in the past? What did you do to get prepped? Share your experience with the community in the comments section below.
For more tips and articles on job search and interviewing, check out the CareerPrep blog and for videos check out the English Interviews and CareerPrep Youtube channels.