How to Prepare for a Job Interview

February 23, 2016 by Margaret Townsend
Go to your Job Interview with Confidence

Use these job interview tips to settle your nerves, go to your interview with confidence and succeed in getting hired.

Reflect On Your Successful Job Application and Mentally Prepare Yourself

First of all, if you are reading this because you’ve got an upcoming job interview, congratulations! You’ve obviously impressed the recruiter with your application and they already feel you may be a good fit for the role.

Reflect On Your Application: Read over the items you submitted for this job. Something appealed to the recruiter and so it’s a good idea to be able to discuss with ease and confidence, the various sections of your resume and what you wrote in your cover letter. Be ready to back up claims you made with real examples that you can articulate well.

Study The Job Description: Remind yourself why you felt you would be a good fit for the job and why you wanted it. Tie in elements of the job description with your resume contents. Be ready to talk about this in an enthusiastic way. If you not only fulfilled the basic requirements of the job but you also possess the desired ‘nice to have’ skills, then prepare to restate that fact during the interview.

Get Your Facts Straight: If there were gaps between jobs you need to figure out what you are going to say when you’re asked about this. Don’t panic, it’s not necessarily a bad thing, but if you cannot explain easily, quickly and calmly, that will raise doubts about you in the recruiter’s mind.

Prepare for Difficult Interview Questions: You may be asked to tell the interviewer something about yourself that’s not already on your resume. This could be an excellent opportunity to fend off the possibility of being asked the other difficult question: do you have any weaknesses? You won’t have your weaknesses on your resume after all, so think of something you weren’t very good at before but that you have since improved upon. Then work on your delivery. Here is an example; ‘I used to be quite shy when I was younger but when working in customer service for XYZ Corporation I did a lot of ABC, during which time I developed the tools necessary to combat this weakness. That is why confidence is now one of my strengths’.

Work on Your Communication Skills: Not everyone is a born sales person and nobody likes opening up to strangers. However, there is a requirement to sell yourself in a job interview, on some level. You need to become comfortable speaking about yourself and your past and appear as relaxed and professionally confident as possible. Many people find this hard and if this is the case for you, find someone to practice with. Speaking about yourself out loud with another person is a great warm up for a job interview. If you don’t have anyone to practice with then try recording yourself answering potential interview questions, then listen and repeat until you are doing it in a natural way without hesitation.

Research Your Prospective Employer Before the Interview

This means to research the company where you applied for the job, not necessarily the interviewer. There are a number of reasons why this is important for you.

Culture: Learning about the company culture will help you to understand how you would fit into that environment, and most importantly you will then be capable of conveying that to the interviewer. This sometimes becomes the reason why candidates get hired or not so don’t underestimate the value of knowing how you will fit in. You can do this by searching for their website and reading about them there. You can also find their social media pages and check if you have any contacts in your network who already work there and who are willing to talk about it with you.

Company culture can incorporate various matters including management styles, collaboration and teamwork, innovation and even dress code. Apart from the top executives, it is influenced most often by the size and age of the company. If you are moving from a small firm to a much larger one or vice versa then you will definitely need to convince the interviewer that you are ready for the change, if asked. 

Work: The company website will have really good information about what type of work they do exactly, their product lines, service offerings, locations, type of customers, any innovations or awards, future plans etc. You might think you know about them already, but this will help you to formulate an intelligent question about the business for the interview and allow you to come across as knowledgeable about their company and industry. Showing that you have done a little homework will indicate that you really want the job.

Dress Code: At the interview you should dress either the same, or a little more formally, than you would normally expect to dress when working in the job. If you expect to be wearing a suit at work then you should wear a suit to the interview. However, if you find that employees at the company go to work in jeans or their website states that the dress code is casual then it will probably be acceptable to attend the interview in a shirt and pants. This way you will feel smart and confident, not overdressed and uncomfortable.

Job Offer Decision: Strange as it may sound, with all that searching, preparation and fretting over the interview, it’s easy to overlook the prospect that you may be offered the job. Have you prepared for this? In that case you will have to take into account the salary being offered, the job location, the company culture and where the business is going. Where do you see yourself in five or ten years’ time? Does this job help you get there? If you are unemployed and you don’t have any other job offer, it may be a ‘no brainer’ that you need to take it. But if you do get other offers or you are changing jobs then your next move will be an important decision. Having researched your prospective employer properly will help you to make that decision wisely.



About the Author

Margaret Townsend
An experienced recruiter and job seeker, now co-founder of www.globehook.com a private job search website. Blogs are full of practical tips and advice on career development, work-life balance, the job search and the job interview. Also writes in-depth unique articles about workplace issues such as gender diversity, HR practices, culture fit, employee engagement and gainful employment.

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