You’ve done your research, emailed your cover letter and resume, and waited (patiently?) to hear back.
And now, you get the call for an interview. Congratulations!
But the job is not yours yet. The interview is a big step, and it is time to prepare.
You need to be as prepared as possible for the day of your interview. Nothing can hurt your job prospects more than scrambling at the last minute, getting to the interview late and appearing disorganized. Here are seven tips to prepare for your interview so you project the confidence and readiness necessary to get the job done.
1. Look your professional best.
Personally, I don’t wear a suit every day, but I always have one ready. It is a must for job interviews. If you do not have one, I suggest purchasing one. If you already have one, try it on a few days before the interview. Does it fit? Make sure it is clean and pressed and that nothing is ripped or stained.
Also, consider the shoes you plan to wear with it. Do they need to be polished? If you have a some walking to do, are the heels manageable to get around in? You do not want to wince in pain with every step if the interviewer is offering a tour of the company’s facilities. Lastly, do you need a haircut? If you do, try to get that about a week ahead of the interview so you aren’t rushing at the last minute. You want to present yourself in a manner that makes you feel good because when you feel good, you appear confident and assured, and that can go a long way in an interview.
2. Figure out where you are going.
If this is a phone interview, set up a comfortable space that allows you to focus and engage with the caller, without interruptions. Phone interviews are a great tactic for both the company and the candidate to gauge each other on some of the basic things each party is looking for. However, you have to be sharp because you won’t be able to see the reaction to your answers.
If you have an in-person interview, test drive the route, if possible. Learn how long it will take to get there as well as your parking options before the day of the interview. The last thing you need to worry about right before you arrive is not knowing where to go or where to park. Or worse - spending the entire interview worrying if you’ll get a ticket because you didn’t have enough quarters or could not find a legal parking spot.
3. Come up with a list of questions.
Take a padfolio with you that includes your list of questions for the organization and the interviewer. Review the job description and the organization’s website a few days before the interview to compose a set of questions that answer your queries but also show your due diligence and preparation skills.
Bring extra copies of your resume in case additional people participate in the interview. Also, include a listing of your references in case the interviewer asks for them. Lastly, if your industry requires work samples, be prepared to leave materials behind for additional review. You will likely not get those back.
4. Get your sleep.
You should be as well rested and attentive as possible for your interview, so avoid staying up late the night before or getting up too early to prep. Also, try to avoid eating or drinking anything the night before that will impair your sleep or affect your focus for the day of the interview.
5. Be prepared for those tricky questions.
A good interviewer has done a comprehensive review of your resume and will find interesting and unique things that you have done to talk about. So ensure that you are fully versed on what you have on your resume.
Work out how you will answer some of the most popular questions, like:
- What is your current/required salary?
- is your greatest strength/weakness?
- What will you bring to this role?
- Why do you want this position?
- Tell me about yourself.
Review the details of the job description and note your strengths as good talking points. If you are asked about a certain area that you are not as skilled in, do not lie. Instead, find ways your stronger skills can support the areas you lack.
6. Arrive 5 or 10 minutes ahead of the interview.
This will give you time to settle into the space and get a feel for the company. Use this time wisely. Avoid scrolling through your phone and instead, review your notes and talking points.
When you are called in to talk with the interviewer, stand and sit tall, have a firm handshake, speak clearly and be yourself. Be prepared to talk about things you have recently read or your favorite hobby.
7. Say thank you.
Even if your gut is telling you this is not the job for you, you should still show your appreciation for the opportunity. Write a thank you message, either in a handwritten card or email. Use the opportunity to briefly follow up regarding a topic that was discussed in the interview if you feel your answer wasn’t complete.
Overall, be your best professional self. Be confident and ready, and you have a better shot at making it to the next round of the hiring process. And remember that you are interviewing the company just as much as they are interviewing you!
Written by Meg Frantz, MPSL '20