Preparing for a Job Interview

Preparing for a job interview is a crucial time in your job search. You have spent the time looking for job openings, perfecting your resume and cover letter and submitting multiple applications.

Once you get invited in for an interview, this is a major step toward a successful job search. But you certainly cannot walk into an interview unprepared. Make sure you know what might happen and learn as much as you can in advance so you feel prepared to handle anything that comes up during that important meeting.

To properly prepare for your interview, start with gathering information about the exact role you will be interviewing for, which should include obtaining a job description and the details of the role within a specific department or group within the company. You should also inquire as to with whom you will be interviewing so you can better tailor the information you provide. An interview might be conducted by your potential direct supervisor, by a department supervisor, by the CEO or by a panel of employees and senior staff. Having an idea of who to expect on the other side of the table can help you feel ready and to avoid big surprises on the day of the interview. Once you have the basic details, it is time to dig deeper to prepare yourself for this job interview so you can make the best impression possible.

Research the Company

Go beyond the company’s homepage and delve into its inner workings as best as you can. Look through quarterly statements, read through recent blog posts, check out its social media accounts to see how it interacts with the public and listen to any recorded calls or podcasts the company has. Take notes of what you learn so you can refer back to this information during the interview.

Being able to mention something specific you learned while answering questions can show your interest in the company and make you stand out above the crowd. You can also use what you learn to formulate questions you want to ask your interviewer. Think about recent company announcements or posts and how those might impact the role you are applying for. Ask relevant questions to show you have done your research and are interested in the impact recent news could have on the position you want.

You can set up news alerts to receive notifications and remain up to date on what is going on with the company. Also be sure to follow its social media accounts to see regular updates. Read any reviews about the company so you can address positive or negative reactions as appropriate.

Research the People

Once you know who will be interviewing you, take the time to research that person. Being able to get a feel for the interviewer’s professional and personal background can help you connect and make a good impression. Search for the interviewer or interviewers online, check LinkedIn pages to see if you have mutual connections and review the person’s role at the company.

Building a rapport with your interviewer is essential to leaving a positive impression. Mutual contacts can help establish a connection if you have any. Be sure to use the interviewer’s name during the interview, which shows that you paid attention during an introduction and that you care enough to personalize your conversation with this individual. Build the connection from the moment you first interact by demonstrating your enthusiasm for the job and for the company. High energy is important and memorable for an interviewer.

Practice, Practice, Practice

Practice your own story so you feel confident in your delivery when your interviewer asks you questions. This should include all of your professional background and your education details, with dates and names and highlights all at the ready. Practice your personal mission statement: Why do you want this job and what do you foresee for your future career?

If you can, have a mock interview with a friend or family member. If you know the format of your upcoming interview, try to replicate that in the mock interview so you can feel more comfortable on the actual day. During the mock interview, practice sharing your personal and professional information until you feel confident in what you want to say and how you say it. Practice answering questions you think you might receive and ask your friend to also surprise you with new questions so you can get used to thinking on your feet. Ask for feedback on your body language and your word choice. See if your friend noticed any funny language habits you have, such as filling a gap with “um” or “like” too frequently. Practicing will help you to smooth out how you present yourself and make you feel much more confident for your interview.

Prepare for the Actual Day

There are many steps you can take to adequately prepare for the day of the interview. First, know where you are going. This includes being familiar with driving directions or public transportation timetables, as well as parking availability and who to ask for when you walk into the building. Knowing where will be going will allow you to arrive to your interview with enough time to spare.

You should also bring copies of your resume and any samples as appropriate; bringing up to five copies is a good idea in case there are multiple people in the interview. Bring copies of letters of recommendation if you have them, otherwise make a list of references with full contact and professional details included.

Bring a list of questions to ask, bring an interview cheat sheet with all your own details and make sure you have a way to take notes comfortably. Your cell phone should be on silent, make sure you are not chewing gum and leave your coffee mug at home or in your car. Feeling prepared and ready to make a good impression will give you confidence as you walk into this important meeting. Make sure you know the questions you can expect to receive and also decide the questions you want to ask before you arrive, bringing those details with you on the day so you feel ready to succinctly and accurately convey your information.

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