How to prepare for a job interview

Job Interview

The days before a job interview can be extremely difficult and stressful, particularly the night before. There is an array of things you need to ponder over to create the right impression on the interviewer during the interview. Thankfully, you need not feel so tense going into an interview. You just need to prepare well in advance to increase your chances of doing well at the interview. And by preparations, we mean truly preparing.

Know more about the position

If you have solid information about the job you’re applying for, put some time and effort into analysing or learning more about it. Find out what your potential employer is looking for in the ideal candidate. List down the knowledge, skills, personal and professional attributes that the employer is seeking and/or are vital for the job.

Once you’ve ascertained what’s required, try to match them with your skill set, work experience, and personality traits. Think of past work experience examples that denote you possess the qualities needed for the current position. This way you would be ready with a response if the job interviewer wants you to recollect past instances wherein you actually exhibited the ability or skill you claim to have.

All this homework would help you highlight your assets relevant to the job position during the interview. Such level of preparation would help you breeze through questions relating to your job-specific skills and behavior.

Know the firm

Before you enter the premises of the company you’re interviewing with, it’s imperative you know not just what the job is all about but also the company that’s offering the job. Company research is a vital aspect of interview preparation. With proper research, you would not be dumbstruck when the interviewer asks you questions pertaining to the company.

You would also be able to put forth any questions you may have about the company. By doing so, the interviewer would get the message that you did your homework. If nothing else, it would at least show that you’re truly interested in working for the company.

To get proper understanding of the firm, head to the company’s website. Do a fairly thorough scan of the site, learn about the company’s services, and its history. The About Us page of the site would usually give you all the details you need.

Do read some articles about the business on third-party websites so that you understand where the company stands in relation to its competition. If you’d like to know employee perspectives, check out forums. Go through review articles if you’d like to know the client or vendor side of things.

Also, talk to people within your circles who could help you learn more or give you insider perspective about the firm. All these valuable nuggets of information would add up and enhance your job prospects.

Practice interview questions

Practice answering questions you are almost certain of being asked during the interview. For instance, pretty much every job interview starts with the question “Tell me about yourself”. Since it’s a pretty broad and cliched question, you should know how to answer it in the most convincing way possible.

Also, learn beforehand job-specific questions you could be asked. For this, you may once again have to pull up information from the Internet. A simple search online would get you the sample questions and also the answers to them. List down a set of questions and practice answering them. This should help you calm your nerves and get accustomed to the act of answering questions.

If you have attended multiple job interviews before, you may skip this step. But if it’s going to be your maiden interview, you would absolutely benefit from enacting things out. If needed, get a family member or friend to help you out. They may play the interviewer.

Carry out the practice interview sessions with utmost sincerity and seriousness. Resort to the format as your real interview. For instance, if your interview is going to be on the phone, get your friend to actually call you on your phone and ask questions. If the interview would have a panel of interviewers, get some of your friends on board and ask them to recreate the panel interview scene.

Get your clothes ready

Do not wait till the last moment to get the right clothes ready for the interview. You must have your interview outfit ready to roll with on the night before the interview. The last thing you want to do before leaving your house is break your head over what outfit to wear.

Irrespective of the kind of job you are interviewing for, the first impression you create on the interviewer should be great. Needless to say, wear formal clothes, particularly if it’s an office job. Jeans, chinos, polo shirts, etc. are a strict no even if the interview is being held on a weekend.

If you are applying for a post in a restaurant, store, or any casual environment, you need not be in your business attire. However, you should still be in tidy, neat, and well-pressed attire. Also, be wary of the accessories or makeup you wear to the interview. As a general thumb rule, go light.

Things to carry

Know what you should be bringing to the interview. Items you should carry include your portfolio with additional resume copies, a references list, a questions list for the interviewer, and a pen. You would need a pen for written tests (if any) or note things down during the interview.

You should also know things you shouldn’t be bringing into the interview room/hall, which certainly includes your mobile phone. If you cannot keep your phone at home, you should at least put it on silent mode during the interview with vibration turned off. The vibration may not be audible when your phone is in your pocket, but it can certainly be distracting when it goes off.

Other things you shouldn’t be carrying include gum, coffee cup, or anything else that’s distracting or is not needed for the interview.

Learn interview etiquette

During an interview, you are not just assessed for the way you dress, how confidently you answer the interviewer’s questions, but also how you carry yourself while at the company’s premises. In other words, greet the interviewer, receptionist, and pretty much everyone else you bump into on-premise. Remember to greet people politely, enthusiastically, and pleasantly.

Keep a tab on your body language during the interview process. Shake hands firmly. Make proper eye contact with the interviewer when answering questions. Be attentive, pay attention, and look interested throughout the process. If you want, you may work on the same during your mock interviews.

There are particular etiquette tips for phone and other types of interviews such as a panel interview, a dinner or lunch interview, a video interview, or a phone interview. All these things help make a strong impression on the interviewer(s), increasing your possibilities of bagging the position.

Thank the interviewer

Once the interview is over, thank the hiring manager and others for the opportunity through a letter. In the written note, restate why you’re interested in the job, your experience and qualifications, the additional things you could bring to the table, etc. In the letter, you may also discuss points you failed to raise during the interview or things the interviewer did not ask.

Wrap up

Having a good understanding of the firm, the position, as well as preparing for other aspects of your interview will get you in the a good state of mind when it comes to interview time. Try to not put pressure on yourself for getting the job, as any indication of stress may make an interviewee look desperate. Stay relaxed and you will naturally feel more confident during your interviews.

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