Job interviews are exciting! An invitation for an interview means that your application materials were solid enough to get your foot in the door and land that coveted meeting with the hiring manager. You’re one step closer to actually scoring the job you desperately want.
But, on the other hand, interviews are also incredibly nerve-wracking. You have a limited amount of time to make a good impression and demonstrate that you’re the perfect fit for a job. Needless to say, placing that much pressure on one brief meeting is definitely enough to make your breathing shallow and your pulse quicken.
As with anything, adequate preparation is key for not only calming your nerves, but also ensuring that you knock the interview out of the park. However, getting your ducks in a row for an interview can feel daunting and overwhelming. With so much ground to cover in a short amount of time, where should you start?
Follow these five steps to get prepared for your next job interview, and you’re sure to set yourself up for success—and maybe even a new job!
1. Review the job description.
You likely took a magnifying glass to the job description when crafting your cover letter and tailoring your resume. But, you’ll want to take another look at it before heading into your interview.
So print it out and grab a highlighter. Identify the key skills the employer is looking for and responsibilities the position entails. Make an effort to determine which duties make up the majority of the position. That way, you’ll know the exact points that should be emphasized throughout your interview.
You not only want to be informed about what the company is looking for, but also how exactly you meet those requirements.
While doing this, it’s also a great idea to list your own strengths and what exactly you bring to the table. Remember, the interview is your chance to sell yourself. So, you not only want to be informed about what the company is looking for, but also how exactly you meet those requirements. Knowing the qualifications is one thing. But you also need to be able to adequately demonstrate that you possess them.
2. Research the company and interviewer.
It’s interview advice you’ve heard time and time again—you absolutely have to research a company before you walk through their office doors. And it’s true! To make a good impression, you need to be well informed about the organization.
Review their website and social media accounts to familiarize yourself with their overall company mission. Beyond that, ensure you have a good handle on what exactly the company does as well as why they do it. Dig in to find out as much as you can about their company culture, and scour the Internet for any announcements or recent happenings from the organization—such as expansions or new product launches. These will be great conversation starters to show that you’re informed and engaged in the company’s well being.
Finally, if you can, find out who you’ll be interviewing with and don’t hesitate to also find out some facts about that person. What’s his or her role within the company? Would you working directly with that person? Even further, is there something personal you can connect on—such as a common alma mater or the fact that you’re both runners? Knowing a few things about your interviewer will help for a few reasons. First, it’ll calm your nerves by reminding you that he or she is only human. Secondly, that personal tidbit will make you that much more memorable to the hiring manager. Beginning with small talk can help ease fears!
3. Rehearse your answers.
I know, the word “rehearse” is probably enough to inspire visions of standing in front of your bathroom mirror while trying to polish your perfect professional—yet friendly—smile. But practicing for your interview doesn’t need to be anything that involved or complex.
To get started, think through your responses to common interview questions such as:
- What are your greatest strengths?
- What’s your biggest weakness?
- Why do you want this job?
- Why should we hire you for this position?
Walking through your answers ahead of time will help you respond with replies that are poised, polished, and—most importantly—actually answer the question.
You’ll also want to have a few anecdotes on hand to address those pesky behavioral interview questions. You know the kind—the questions that start with “Tell me about a time when…” Here are a few examples you might want to have ready to go in your back pocket:
- A time when you solved a problem.
- A time when you overcame a challenge.
- A time when you worked with a team.
- A time when you filled a leadership role.
Needing to tell a spur-of-the-moment story in an interview is enough to send your stomach leaping into your throat. So working through a few ahead of time is always a smart idea.
4. Brainstorm your questions.
Rehearsing your answers to the interviewer’s questions is definitely important. But, you should also have a few of your own questions prepared. There’s nothing worse than hearing crickets chirp when the hiring manager asks, “So, what questions do you have for me?” at the conclusion of your interview.
Grab a notepad and think of a few questions to ask in your interview. Even if you don’t have any burning questions that you’re desperate for answers to, think of at least two that you can use to demonstrate your interest and engagement in the position and hiring process. Something simple like, “What does a typical day in this position look like?” or “How would you describe the culture of this company?” will always suffice.
5. Take a deep breath. (You got this!)
Do what you need to do to ensure the morning of your interview is as easy and low-stress as possible.
Now that all of that preparation is done, it’s time to get yourself in the right headspace to knock that interview out of the park. The night before, make sure that you pack up your work bag, select your outfit, and ensure that it’s cleaned, pressed, and comfortable (you don’t want to be fidgeting during the interview). Also, confirm the meeting location, how to get there, and set out anything else you’ll need the following morning—like your keys.
Do whatever you need to ahead of time to ensure that your morning is as easy and low-stress as possible. That way, you can show up feeling confident and put together—rather than frazzled.
Job interviews can be an even mix of both thrilling and anxiety inducing. But if you’re adequately prepared, you can nip some of that stress in the bud and actually make the most of the experience. Follow these five steps, and you’re sure to ace your next interview!