Whether you’re looking for your first job or a new job, landing an interview can feel like an achievement in and of itself. But that initial sense of relief can be quickly replaced with the anxiety of actually having to do the interview. What can you do to make the most of this opportunity?
Here are four tips to help you get ready for your next job interview. You can find more tips by signing up for one of our upcoming free Job Interviews workshops or by booking an appointment with one of our expert staff for job interview support.
One of the reasons you might feel nervous is uncertainty–you just can’t be sure how the interview will go. The simplest way to combat uncertainty is to inform yourself through research.
Research the company you have applied to. Look them up online. If they have a website, visit it. If they have social media pages, visit those. Look at how the company presents itself–this might help you understand what the company values.
Ask your friends or former co-workers about the company. They may have had some experience with the company in the past and may be able to give you a good idea about what you might expect if you worked there.
If you can find information, try to answer the following questions:
- What does the company do?
- How large is the company?
- What kind of clients does the company work with?
- Does the company have a good reputation?
- Is this somewhere you could see yourself working?
Research the position you have applied for. If you applied through a job posting, go back and re-read the posting to see what they said they are looking for. Visit some job boards and look at similar jobs. Look at what duties and responsibilities are listed for those positions. If there are salary ranges, make note of those too.
At the end of an interview, employers will often ask you if you have any questions for them. While you may be tempted to skip over this part of the interview–you’re passed the hard part, after all–you should use what you learned during your research and show the employer that you have done your homework and that you are thoughtful and engaged.
Doing your research will help lead to fewer surprises during the interview and more focus on what you’ve practiced.
Once you’ve researched the company and position, you can start to prepare for the interview itself. Practicing for the types of questions you may be asked is a great way to make sure you aren’t caught off guard.
Think about some standard interview questions and try to come up with answers that you are satisfied with. Some common interview questions include (but are not limited to):
- Why do you want to work here?
- What is your greatest strength?
- Describe a time when you had a conflict with a co-worker. How was it resolved?
- Why did you leave your last job?
Develop questions specific to your field. Are there expected skills or abilities you may be asked about? Are there industry standards or jargon that might come up? If you can’t think of any specifics, go back to do a little more research about the position.
Review your resume and be prepared to talk about it. Think of examples you can give regarding the experience and skills that you have listed.
Go over your answers multiple times. Speak them out loud so you are comfortable hearing yourself. Take notes on any key points or anything you might have trouble remembering. Find a friend or book an appointment with a professional to practice your responses.
Don’t write a script–you don’t want to be reading during your interview, while memorizing a script will sound rehearsed. You want to be able to give your answers in as natural, clear and concise a fashion as possible. The goal of practicing is to figure out what you want to say and how you can best say it.
Having a plan is one of the best ways to make sure you don’t get overwhelmed during your interview. If you always know what your next step is, you don’t have to worry about all the steps that follow. Try to plan as much of your interview day as you can.
Start by double-checking the interview details:
- Where is the interview taking place?
- What time is it taking place?
- Who should you ask for when you arrive?
What you should plan:
- What time you will arrive – Give yourself plenty of time and plan to arrive 15 minutes before the start of your interview. Showing up late gives a poor first impression.
- How you will get there – If you are taking public transportation, know the schedule and route and give yourself extra time. If you’re driving, account for traffic and try to get an idea of how and where you will park.
- What you will wear – Select professional and appropriate clothing in advance and make sure they are clean and ironed.
- What you will need for the interview – Print extra copies of your resume. Bring any notes you’ve taken and have something to write on and with. Keep everything organized so you won’t have to search during the interview.
Plan as many details of the interview as you can, but try to remain flexible. The point of having a plan is to leave as few things up to chance as possible. But you can’t control everything. Try not to get flustered if things do not go exactly according to plan.
One of the most important things you can do when preparing for an interview is to make sure you have given yourself enough time to do everything. Don’t rush, don’t cram, don’t wait until the last minute. If you’re panicked or on-edge the employer will likely notice– not the impression you want to leave. Through all your research, practicing and planning, make sure you are taking the time you need to do everything right.