How To Get Ready for a Job Interview
The old saying that “practice makes perfect” is appropriate when it comes to interviewing. If it doesn’t make you perfect, it will, at least, help you interview effectively. Don’t start getting ready late the night before the interview. Take time in advance to prepare for your interview.
If you have a family member or friend who will spend some time helping you, ask them to ask you some typical interview questions. The more you practice answering, the more comfortable you will be with your responses.
Tip: Need more help? There are free online interview practice tools you can use to get ready to ace a job interview.
If you can, record your practice interview so you can watch what you look and sound like. You’ll be able to see what you need to improve. Then do it again. Keep practicing until you’re comfortable with your responses and comfortable watching yourself interview.
Check your nonverbal communications as well as your verbal responses. Be sure you’re not fidgeting or twitching or disconnected—pay attention. Employers notice these nonverbal responses, so be aware of the demeanor you portray and try to stay calm and quiet while waiting for the interview and during it. Your goal is for your entire package, your image, to be perfect—and to make the best impression.
When Your Interview is Remote
Virtual interviews can be easier than in-person meetings. You don’t have to worry about getting there on time or stress over the details of interviewing in person. However, it’s still important to prepare in advance and pay attention to all the details of a remote interview so you can make the best impression.
Tip: Here’s how to look stylish and maximize your Zoom presence during a job interview.
When You’re Interviewing In-Person
There are some things you shouldn’t plan on bringing with you to the interview. If you’re a smoker, leave the cigarettes at home or in your car. Make sure you use a breath mint before you enter the building.
Don’t chew gum or munch on candy either. Silence your phone. The same goes for coffee and soda. Don’t walk into the interview carrying a cup of coffee, however much you might think you need it. Interviewees who have done some or all of the above have jeopardized their chance of getting the job.
Tip: Here’s the best interview attire for every type of job interview.
Interview Preparation Checklist
Here’s an interview checklist to use to get ready for your interview.
[ ] Review the job posting.
[ ] Research the company.
[ ] Review interview questions
[ ] Generate a list of questions to ask
[ ] Review your resume
[ ] Itemize the qualifications you have for the job
[ ] Get irections to the interview location
[ ] Get your interview clothes ready (the evening before)
[ ] Pack your portfolio with your resume, a notepad, and a pen
[ ] Double-check the name of your interviewer, so you know with whom you are meeting
Review Your Resume
Reviewing your resume sounds a little odd, doesn’t it? Believe it or not, I’ve interviewed job applicants whose answers didn’t match what was on their resume. They either didn’t remember what years they had worked at which job, or they were fuzzy on the details of what they had done at their previous jobs.
Tip: Make sure you know what you put on your resume and make sure your answers match what you tell the interviewer.
Research the Company
Researching the company is important, too, for a couple of reasons. First of all, one of the questions you may be asked is “What do you know about this company?” and you need to be able to provide an informative answer. Secondly, you want to know as much about the company because you need to decide if you want to work there.
Visit the company’s website (the easiest way to find it is to search for the company name on Google), and look at every section. Read the company mission statement and goals for the future. Learn what the company does and how they do it. Understand the products or services the company sells and how they market them. Review senior management bios as well as the information about the company and benefits available in the Careers or About Us section of the company website. The more you know, the more effectively you will be able to interview.
Check out the company’s LinkedIn profile, Twitter feed, Instagram, and Facebook page, if they have them. You’ll find a wealth of information about the company, its management, and its employees. Use LinkedIn to see who you know at the company. Those connections may be able to give you insider advice and tips on interviewing strategies.
How to Handle the Interview
Keep it Professional
Professional communications are as important during the interview as they are when you submit your resume and cover letter. That means all communications from the time you arrive at the interview until it’s over.
Arrive on time for the interview. On time means a few minutes early. You may need to complete an application, and you don’t want to be rushing into the lobby of the building at the last minute. If you aren’t sure where the office is located, do a trial run the day before so you know exactly where you are going, where you can park, and how long it is going to take you to get there. Give yourself a little extra time, so you have a cushion just in case you’re delayed.
If you’re nervous (and that can happen to anyone, even those who interview a lot!), visit the restroom, wash and dry your hands so your palms aren’t sweaty, and get a drink of water. If sweating is an issue, keep a tissue in your pocket so you can dry your hands discreetly before you shake hands with anyone.
Next, consider manners, because they do matter. Remember that teacher who used to tell you to sit up straight and pay attention? Well, that’s exactly what you need to do during the interview. Don’t slouch or recline in your chair, even when you’re interviewing from home. Listen attentively to the interviewer and don’t interrupt.
Pause Before You Respond
Do take time, if you need to, to consider your response, so your answer is complete. Don’t talk too much. I have interviewed some candidates who talked way too much. They were trying so hard to sell me on hiring them that they didn’t listen to a word I said. Rambling on and on didn’t make a good impression on me and isn’t going to make a good impression on any interviewer.
Send a Thank-You Note
Sending a thank-you note or email is the best way to cement the good impression you just left the interviewer with. Reiterate your interest and excitement about the opportunity, and use your message as a chance to mention anything you neglected to say during the interview.