How to Prepare for a Job Interview
After putting in the time and effort to writing a great resume and cover letter, you’ve found yourself among one of the few applicants to get a job interview. But getting that new job is a full-time job in itself, so there’s still plenty of time and effort required. If you really want to nail your interview, then most of the work you’ll need to do, will be for preparation.
Here are some of the main ways you can prepare to ace a job interview.
What to wear to a job interview
You can’t make a second first-impression, and unfortunately the first thing that the interviewers will notice about you is not likely to be your skills, knowledge, or even your demeanor – the first thing they’ll see is what you’re wearing. Therefore, it’s important that you dress properly: no jeans or shorts; no sandals or running shoes; and no loose fitting casual outfits. Instead, dress yourself in shirts, pants and dresses or skirts that are sized properly and do not show your underwear; and socks that match the rest of your outfit.
We advise that you avoid dressing for current trends, unless you can afford to replace your wardrobe in the future. A more cost-effective and safe strategy is to dress more traditionally with a classic suit or dress. Whatever you wind up picking, make sure it’s comfortable as you don’t want to be constantly fidgeting and grimacing during your interview. Make sure that your outfit is washed and laid out the night before, and make sure there are no wrinkles or tears. The same can be said for your person – make sure you’re freshly washed and shaved.
The better you look, the more confident you’ll feel and the more confidence you’ll project.
Research the Company
If you followed our advice for writing your resume and cover letter, you’ll already have done a fair bit of research into the company already. However, there’s a good chance you’ve also researched other companies for other applications, so it’s time to give yourself a quick refresher. There are a few things you should focus on in particular that will help you during your interview:
Pick out the keywords they use most often, as the company obviously thinks they’re important. When you’re preparing for answering standard interview questions, practice using some of the keywords in a natural way. Doing so will help convince the interviewers that you’re a fit for their culture.
Leadership Team & Interviewers
LinkedIn is your friend here. Knowing the background, style and interests of those who will be interviewing you will really help when it comes to breaking the ice. Not only will it help develop a bit of a bond with them, but it will also further convince them that you can fit in with the rest of the company.
Recent Press Releases
This will help you learn of any new expansions and initiatives to their business (or reductions). Pick out bits that you genuinely find the most interesting, and form a few questions to ask them when you get your chance. This will show off your knowledge and interest in them and their big projects, and if you can seem sincere when doing so rather than just going through the motions, you’ll stand out over your competition.
Common job interview questions
The purpose for knowing the kinds of questions the interviewers will ask you is not to have a pre-set answer memorized, but so you’re ready to answer it comfortably and honestly. You want to sound sincere, not like an audio recorder. This isn’t just because you’ll sound boring and unimpressive, but a good interviewer might start asking you things in a way to trip you up. Or you might start reading the interviewer to the point where you realize, on the spot, that you have a better way of answering. Either way, you want to be flexible with how you can answer their questions.
So when you’re reading through a list of common interview questions, start thinking about how to combine the research you’ve done with the top skills and qualities about yourself that you want to project to them. You might want to spend more time on some of the more difficult questions you’re likely to be asked.
Dealing with Interview Anxiety
In recent years we’ve all become more aware that anxiety and depression is something a lot of people have to deal with, and I’m willing to admit that I’m one of them. I know first-hand that stressful situations will always exacerbate it, and it’s a safe assumption that there will be people who will feel some level of anxiety about their upcoming job interview. The rest of the preparation we advise you to do above will help it feel more manageable, but there are a few other tips I can give that I know have helped me keep calm.
The biggest help for me is mindfulness meditation. It’s not the kind of spiritual meditation you might think when you first hear of it, but it is incredibly helpful in dealing with stress of any type in any situation. With practice, you can be ‘meditating’ while walking down the street.
Another way to help keep your stress under wraps leading up to your interview is to cut out food and drink that make it worse. Coffee might help you feel awake, but it will also make you feel more jittery and nervous than you would otherwise. If you think you need a pick-me-up, try Gatorade or something else that doesn’t have caffeine. Sugar and alcohol are also things to avoid before your interview.
Lastly, sleep. Hopefully these tips will help prevent stress from keeping you awake, but do everything you can to be rested and alert the day of your interview. A good night’s sleep will not only keep you alert, but will also help you feel more relaxed and calm.
Have no regrets
The last thing you want to do is leave an interview feeling like you could have done better. The more you prepare, the better you’ll be able to deal with whatever the interviewers can throw at you. Even if you wind up not getting that job, if you impress them enough you’ll surely be on their radar for the future. Maybe the person they hire doesn’t work out, or maybe there’s another job opening they have that they think you’ll fit.
Be as ready as you can be, and make them want you.
Brian Stewart is a graduate of George Brown College and the University of Toronto, and is a Career Content Writer at ResumeTarget.com. They are the only resume writing company that offers a professionally written resume, coupled with the guidance of recruiters, to guarantee that your resume will get results.