Job Interview Preparation
You’ve applied for a job and now you’ve been ask to come in for an interview. Great! But how do you guarantee to put your best foot forward in the interview? You prepare.
Review & Research
You will want to review the job posting or description closely. Pay close attention to the key skills, knowledge, education, and other attributes the company is looking for as well as the job duties and functions. How do your skills match up to with what you have just highlighted from the job description? Create a profile of yourself; skills, education, work history, etc. with the job description in mind. This will make it easier for you to sale yourself for the specific position you are interviewing for. That’s all an interview really is, an opportunity for you to sale yourself and your skills to the company that you are interviewing with.
Research the company you are interviewing with. Go to their website and review it pick out and note a couple of interesting facts about the company. A good place to look for those facts is the history/ founding of the company, place in the market, growth, recent awards and accolades. Know what the company does not just the job function of the position you are applying for. Another way to research the company is to look for news articles and features related to the company to see what current and newsworthy things are happening with the company and that the company is involved in. You don’t have to be an expert, but you do want to be able to have a basic understanding of the company and answer basic general knowledge questions. This comes in handy for when the interviewer ask you if you have any questions, you can ask a question about the company. Sometimes interviewers will ask what you know about the company. You don’t want to be left looking like a deer in the head lights, do your homework so you will be able to tell them something you know about the company you’re applying for.
Know Your Resume
Know your resume!! I’ll say it again, know your resume. During an interview it is almost a given that you will be asked about at least some of the things you put on your resume. You should be able to comfortably speak to previous employers and the time frames you were with them. Also you should be able to discuss your job duties/ responsibilities, what you liked most/ least about any given previous job, why you left, and any gaps in employment. Have these answers thought out and rehearsed so that they easily roll off your tongue. It sounds silly, but many hiring managers report that applicants have a hard time recalling and answering questions about what is on their resume. You wrote it, so you should know it. Be prepared this should be an easy part of the interview.
Get your outfit ready in advance. Preferably you want to have an interview outfit and a backup outfit (in case of wardrobe malfunction) ready at all times so you’re never caught off guard. Remember that you never get a second chance to make a first impression. So make sure that you are well put together, and dressed to impress.
You should always wear some form of business attire. If it is a more professional or corporate setting you should dress in business professional attire for the interview. If it is a more casual, less professional environment you can dress business casual. You always want to be neat and tailored. Try on your outfits with shoes and accessories in advance to make sure everything works together and fits well. Make sure your outfit is clean, pressed, and fresh. Remember just because you are applying for or starting off in an entry level position doesn’t mean you shouldn’t dress well.
In addition to preparing your outfit you will want to prepare a few questions to ask the interviewer. Typically at the end of an interview the applicant will be given the opportunity to ask a few questions. Just in case nothing during the interview strikes you you’ll want to have two to three interview question prepared in advance. If you did your research on the company earlier you can always ask a follow up question on something you learned about the company. Additionally here are some common questions you may want to consider asking:
- How would you describe the company’s culture and leadership philosophy?
- Why do you like working here?
- What does a typical day or week look like for the person in this position? Is there travel, flextime, etc?
- How do you see this position contributing to the success of the organization?
- How do you see me as a candidate for the job in comparison with an ideal candidate?
- Do you have any concerns about me or about my qualifications that may prevent you from selecting me for the job?
- What is the next step? When do you think you will be making a decision?
The last and possibly most important prep item is getting directions in advance even if you think you know where it is. The last thing you want to do is get lost on the day of your interview. Even if it doesn’t make you late the added stress may throw you off your game.
What to Have Ready to Take with You
You’ll want to have several things prepared in advance to take with you on the day of your interview. Make sure that you have two or three copies of your resume, a typed copy of your references, a pen and paper, and depending on the position you are interviewing for a portfolio or samples of your work. You want to have two to three copies of your resume, because you may have more than one interviewer and want to make sure each has their own copy of your resume. Additionally the interviewer may ask for an extra copy of your resume for their file or to pass on to someone else. Companies often want three to five professional references. Proactively have them ready. You will want to ask your references permission to use them in advance, don’t use relatives, and try to use previous colleagues or those who can speak to your professional performance. Include your references first and last name, phone number, and email address if possible. It is important that you speak to your references in advance so that they are aware they may be getting contacted by your prospective employer. Take a pen and paper with you in case you need to take any notes about the position or jot down any questions you have. Also you may want to note the name of your interviewer for future follow up.