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Well, you did it. You made a great resume, you sent it out, you followed up and now you’ve accepted a job interview…and the job looks perfect. Now to land the job.
To increase your chances of getting hired, you’ll need to be well prepared for what’s ahead. Read on for some great tips on how to prepare for an interview.
Read the Job Description
‘How to Prepare for an Interview’ Rule #1: Read the job description again.
It’s likely you read the job description when you first applied for the job, but now that you are being called in for an interview, you’ll want to do a thorough review. Look at what skills the company is looking for. Determine how you can bring these skills to the table, and be sure you are ready to explain it just in case you are asked.
Preparing for an interview will require you to think of ways you can show the interviewee why you are the perfect fit for the position.
RELATED CONTENT: How to Read & Respond to Job Descriptions
Research the Company
Your interview preparation will require you to research the company, and the more thorough you are the better. In addition to finding out what the business does, you may also determine areas where you can help them improve. If you show your interviewee how you can bring in more customers, increase sales, boost web site visibility and/or make the company run more efficiently, you are sure to ace the interview.
Research the Role You are Applying For
When you prepare for interview, you should research the specific role you are applying for. The job description will give you some clues, but you can take it even further by searching the company web site to find out about people who have held the position previously and what their duties entailed. You may also find out what it’s like to work in a similar position at another company.
Find Out About the Company Culture
When thinking about how to prepare for an interview, it is very important to research company culture. If the company you are applying for has a strong company culture, it should come through as soon as you look at the web site. Do they seem fun? Do they emphasize diversity? Are the focused on eco-friendly causes and giving back?
It’s advisable to go with a company that’s a natural fit culture wise, so don’t try to force it. But you can bring out why you work well with the company’s vision during the interview process.
Learn the Company’s Products or Services
When considering how to prepare for an interview with any company, your preparation should include learning about the products and services the company provides. You never know if this is going to come up in conversation, and it’s always a good idea to be prepared.
If the job you are applying for is not very technical, you may not need to know everything about what they have to offer as far as products and services. However, having solid background knowledge may go far in helping you land the job.
Think About Why You are Interviewing
At this point, you need to substitute the question “How to Prepare for an Interview” or “Why Am I Interviewing for this role?”
It’s not uncommon for an interviewee to ask you questions like: “What made you apply for this job?” And the last thing they want to hear are answers like:
- “It is closer to my home.”
- “I needed the money.”
- “There weren’t any other jobs I was qualified enough for.”
While something like that may be true, they want to know why you had an interest in applying to their company. Instead of stating the obvious, explain why you’re passionate about the position and how you think you can take the business to the next level.
Come Up with Answers to Common Interview Questions
If you go to enough interviews, you will notice that there are certain questions hiring managers tend to ask. When considering how to prepare for an interview, coming up with answers to these common questions is essential. Here are some to get familiar with.
“What are your Greatest Strengths and Weaknesses?“
When you get asked this question, you will be thankful that you took the time to review the job description. Be sure to include the soft and hard skills they are looking for.
The weakness part of this question could be tricky. A ‘good’ weakness could be perfectionism or a tendency to be early. So be honest without being overly honest. Tell them a time where you failed or one of your weaknesses, but then counteract that with how you learned from the experience or how you are working on improving that weakness.
“Why Should we Hire You?“
Here’s where you will really want to try to market yourself. Be sure to not only list skills you are strong in, but give measurable examples and mention how those skills can help you make an impact. For example, if you can offer skills that boost sales and revenue, and that is what the company is looking for, then it will speak volumes in your favor.
This is another toughie. It’s important never to say anything negative about your former employer. Instead, be positive and explain how you are looking forward to moving on to new experiences and opportunities.
Practice Speaking Clearly and Strong Body Language
It’s natural to be nervous for a job interview but it’s important to appear as confident as possible. Confidence will come though if you speak clearly and maintain strong body language.
The best way to practice speaking clearly is to:
- Enunciate your words
- Avoid using small words like “uh”, “like”, or “so”
- Use full sentences that make sense
Even though you are by yourself, you could practice interviewing in front of a mirror or by recording yourself. Be sure to practice coming up with answers to common questions aloud. Similar strategies should be used in your body language. Make an effort to maintain a strong posture. Use fluid movements and avoid slouching.
Prepare Your Own Thoughtful Questions
When you are preparing for an interview , it is important to not only focus on how you will answer questions. The hiring manager will also want to know that you are paying attention, and that you are interested in the job. You can show him or her that you are more than passionate about the position by asking thoughtful questions during the interview process. These can include:
- What is a typical day in the office like?
- What are you looking for your employees to achieve (in the first month, year?)
- What are the next steps in the hiring process?
As the interview moves forward, you may have a lot of questions…and that’s great. But you never want to interrupt your potential employer as he or she is talking. They will more than likely give you time to ask questions at the end of the interview.
Role Play Your Interviews
Role playing should be incorporated when preparing for an interview. The best thing to do is think up questions you are likely to be asked. Then sit down with a friend and go through them to come up with the answers you feel are best.
Practicing may seem silly and a bit tedious, but the more you repeat the questions, the more familiar you will get with the answers and more confident you will be at your interviews.
Turn Off Your Phone Before the Interview
It may be hard to believe but some people leave their phone on during interviews and will even walk out of the rooms to take phone calls. This type of behavior is NEVER ACCEPTABLE.
Not only should you not be on your phone during the interview, but it’s best to turn the phone off before the interview begins, especially if you have people trying to contact you throughout the day. If your phone rings and beeps while the interview is happening, it will be distracting and unprofessional. Stopping in the middle of the interview to shut it off will not earn you any points either.
Have Your Resume Printed and Bring it to Your Interview
The hiring manager will have received your resume when you initially sent it in to apply, but don’t assume they will have it on hand during your interview. In fact, it’s very common for the hiring manager to ask the applicant for their resume before the interview gets started. If you don’t have one on hand, that will be a strike against you.
Though it seems small, a major part of interview preparation is making sure you have a printed version of your resume available at your interview. Take it along in a folder or notebook so it won’t be wrinkled when you present it.
It’s also advisable to look over your resume before the interview begins. You may have a few versions printed so you want to be familiar with the one you sent in for the position you are interviewing for. You will be asked questions based on the resume and you won’t want to get thrown off because you’re not sure what it says.
Dress the Role
A big part of job interview preparation is knowing what to wear. This can vary greatly depending on the position you are applying for and the office environment.
A good rule of thumb is to determine how you think people in the office dress on an average day of work. Then take it up a notch.
So if the office has a casual atmosphere (say jeans and a t-shirt would be okay for a work day), then a button-up shirt and slacks would be acceptable for the interview. But don’t overdo it. If you wear a suit for a casual position, you’ll look like you don’t fit in.
Remember that hair and accessories also come into play in your overall interview appearance. Your hair should be neat, and your jewelry should be minimal and tasteful. While dress shoes may be in order, it’s important not to wear anything that will make you uncomfortable.
Make Sure You’re on Time
This may not seem like an important aspect when creating an action plan for how to prepare for an interview you have coming up. However, being late for an interview is never a good idea. Promptness and planning is a must when it comes to preparing for an interview.
Make sure you are on time by leaving for the interview a little early. Check with your map app an hour or so before you have to leave so you can assess current traffic conditions. Then give yourself an extra ten minutes in case anything changes.
Keep in mind that being too early for an interview can also seem rude. If you are excessively early, stay in the car until about ten minutes before your meeting. This is a great time to review your resume and check your hair and clothing.
Finding a spot and parking can also make you late, so it important to consider it while you are preparing for an interview. Check out the area in person or on the internet to see if there is ample parking. If parking seems challenging, build even more time into your commute.
Despite your best intentions, you may still find yourself falling behind. There may be an unexpected accident or your car may break down. Who knows what can happen? If one of these situations arise, it’s vital to call the hiring manager to keep them apprised of the situation. Take along their contact information for these purposes.
Get Ready to Sell Yourself
Preparing for a job interview involves learning how to sell yourself. This doesn’t come as naturally for some as it does for others, but if you don’t make yourself seem like a good candidate, you won’t land the job.
There are plenty of things you can say without overselling yourself. Just think of the assets you have that will work best in getting the company functioning at its highest potential. Use short, clear, concise answers to put forth a professional attitude that shows you in the best light.
Be Prepared for Any Inappropriate Questions
Though inappropriate questions should never come up during the interview process, it is important to build them into your interview preparation. You should never be asked questions about your race, age, gender, religion, marital status or sexual orientation. If you are, and you still want the job, you may say something like, “I’m not sure how that’s relevant to my profession” and move on.
Get Ready to Follow Up
Follow up is essential. After the interview is over, you will want to follow up with a phone call or email letting the employer know you are interested in the job. This also gives you the opportunity to mention points you may have forgotten to bring up.
A well-crafted follow-up email will include the following:
- An opening paragraph that thanks the hiring manager, mentions the job you applied for, and mentions the company name.
- A second paragraph that briefly summarizes what you can do for the company.
- A final paragraph that invites them to ask additional questions and let’s them know that you are looking forward to hearing from them.
Getting a call back is winning part of the battle. But you must do a fair amount of preparation to ace the interview.
The tips in this article tell you how to prepare for an interview so you have a great chance of getting the job of your dreams. If you are still unsure, and need more tips, check out 14 Interview Tips to Help Smoothly Navigate Your Interviews.