Chances are that your interviewing skills are a little rusty, because it’s just not something that most of us do very often. We find a job we love (or like, tolerate, or can’t stand) and stick with it for some time before looking for something new. Job interviews can sneak up on us. Someone might call out of the blue asking about an opportunity when one might least expect it. And then there are the times it’s the position we’ve been dreaming about after submitting application after application.
Either way, going in for that big interview can be nerve-wracking. I’ve gone through the process quite a few times myself, and have also been the person on the other side of the table having worked in Recruiting and HR for the last 7 years. Here are a few simple ways to prepare for your next interview that will ensure you come across as prepared, qualified, and confident.
1. Analyze the job description.
The job description is one of the most underutilized tools out there. Remember that the person who put it together was essentially writing a wish list of everything they want to see in a candidate, so it has the potential to give you a ton of insight into what’s important to them, and the company.
Go through each of the responsibilities and think of things you’ve done that are related. Go through the skills section and find a way to pick up exposure to any skills you don’t yet have.
2. Brush up on your own story and experiences
I know it sounds a little silly that I’m telling you to actually get know yourself better, but it makes a big difference. Keeping the job description in mind, comb through your past experiences and highlight the things you’ve done (examples are great) that are impressive, relevant, and will differentiate you from other candidates.
That really great project you worked on 5 years ago, probably isn’t top of mind, but if it’s something relevant to the job (which you’ll know from the job description), make sure you remember all of the necessary details and most importantly, the end result and impact.
3. Know what the company does, and why you want to join.
If you’re joining a new company, there will always be an onboarding period and a learning curve, but baseline knowledge is still really important. Your interviewer will expect that you researched the company and you should know what they do, why they do it (their mission), what products they sell, and where in the world they operate, just to name a few.
Not only should you know all that, but you should also have a strong perspective on why you’d actually want to join that company. Is it because they’re doing something very innovative? Because you love their mission? Because they do good in the community? The best candidates are able to clearly articulate why they’re really excited about the prospect of getting that job. If you’re not actually excited about the job, reconsider going in for that interview to begin with!
4. Prepare for the most commonly asked interview questions
While no one out there has a crystal ball on what interview questions are going to be asked, there are some common ones that are worth preparing for. I’ve asked them hundreds of times myself and know recruiters across industries do too.
These are questions like “Tell me about yourself”, “Why are you interested in this job?”, “Tell me about a time when you’ve…”, “Where do you see yourself in 5 years?” etc.
5. Go in with confidence.
If you don’t have confidence going into an interview, you are majorly underselling yourself. If you’ve gotten to the point where you are sitting in the lobby, waiting for an interview that means someone in the company read your resume, believed you could do the job (at least on paper), and felt it was worth their while to meet you.
They want you to be “the one” and think you can be. So you better believe that, too!