Interview preparation is key, success is never accidental.
A job interview is your opportunity to make a great first impression on a potential employer. The key to nailing a job interview is preparation. By taking the time to research the company, brush up on your interview skills, and put together a compelling value proposition, you’ll be putting your best foot forward and significantly increase your chances of landing the job you want.
Interview preparation is about knowing what to expect and preparing for potential questions. When you are prepared for your interview you can make a great impression on your interviewers. The more prepared you are, the more confident you will feel – and that confidence will show in your interview.
Here is our ten-step interview success plan with your interview prep checklist:
1. Get To Know The Company and The Culture
The interview process can be nerve-wracking, but if you take the time to research the company and its culture before your interview, you’ll be better prepared to answer questions and make a good impression. Here’s what you need to know.
One of the best ways to prepare for an interview is to research the company. Not only will this give you a better understanding of the company’s products or services, but it will also help you from talking points about why you want to work there. When researching a company, look for information about its history, mission statement, and values. You can also check out online reviews from employees and customers, as well as press coverage. All of this will give you a well-rounded view of the company.
In addition to researching the company itself, it’s also important to research the company’s culture. Culture fit is important to employers, so they want to make sure that you would be a good fit for their team. When researching a company’s culture, look for information on the company website, social media channels, and employee review sites like Glassdoor. You can also reach out to current or former employees on LinkedIn and ask them about their experience working at the company. By doing your research, you’ll be able to show that you’re knowledgeable about the company and that you would fit in well with its culture.
If you take the time to research the company and its culture beforehand, you’ll be better prepared to answer questions and make a good impression. Company research will give you a better understanding of what the company does, while culture research will help you assess whether or not you would be a good fit for the team.
2. Familiarize Yourself With the Job Description
When you’re on the hunt for a new job, it can be tempting to just skim through the job postings and jump into the interview. After all, who has time to read through all of that small print? But taking the time to read job descriptions carefully (and we mean carefully—all the way through, not just skimming!) can make a world of difference in your interview performance. Here’s why.
You’ll Discover What the Job Entails
A job posting should give you a pretty good idea of what the day-to-day duties of the position will be. But reading carefully will also give you insights into the company’s culture, what type of environment you’ll be working in, and what kind of personalities would be a good fit for the team. All of this information can be extremely valuable as you decide whether or not to apply for a position.
You’ll Have a Better Chance of Acing Your Interview
If a company is looking for someone with a specific skill set or experience level and you meet that criteria, be sure to mention it specifically during the interview (along with any other relevant qualifications, of course). The more closely you match what the employer is looking for, the better your chances are of getting the offer.
It can be helpful to make a list of your qualifications and experiences to match the qualifications and responsibilities on the job ad or description and reference it during your interview. While. you are in this process you can also jot down some common job interview questions you expect to be asked and use this in your mock interview later.
You May Discover That You’re Overqualified (or Under-qualified) for the Role
It’s important to discover in an interview whether or not you’re qualified for a position. If you’re overqualified and end up getting hired, there’s a good chance you’ll eventually become bored with the work and start looking for something else.
On the other hand, if you’re under-qualified, it may become apparent during an interview that this isn’t the right role for you and you can pivot to a more likely role. Look for gaps while you prepare and take note of experiences you have had that can help you fill that gap and make note of what changes could be made to the job, what training you might take, and how else you may be able to take on this role.
3. Focus on Your Qualifications and Identify Your Fit
Before you walk into the job interview it is wise to take some time to write down the specific qualifications that make you a good fit for the job. Once there, think about what the employer is seeking and how you would fit into that frame. The interview questions you will be asked are almost all in service to this end.
Consider Your Qualifications
When preparing for interview questions, it’s helpful to make a list of your qualifications so that you can reference them during the conversation. In addition to discussing your professional credentials, be sure to highlight any relevant skills or experiences that make you a good fit for the role. For example, if you’re interviewing for a sales position, be sure to mention any experience you have in customer service or quotas.
Assess Your Fit
In addition to researching the company and considering your qualifications, it’s also important to assess whether or not you would be a good fit for the organization. For instance, if you’re interviewing for a start-up that values creativity and out-of-the-box thinking, but you prefer structure and predictability, it might not be the right match. As such, it’s important to take into account both your qualifications and desired work environment when applying for jobs.
By taking the time to prepare for your interview ahead of time, you can increase your chances of putting your best foot forward and landing the job. For example, think of the interview questions you would ask an applicant to find out if they are a fit for this company. It is a great exercise to “change seats” and think about what you would ask to assess someone.
By preparing in advance and considering both your qualifications and how well you would fit into the company culture, you can increase your chances of making a positive impression and getting the job offer.
4. Prepare Your Answers to Common Job Interview Questions
By anticipating what common job interview questions you may be asked and preparing thoughtful ways to answer questions in advance, you can go into your interview with confidence. Here are some of the most common interview questions along with suggestions for how to answer them.
Here are a few examples of common interview questions:
1. Tell me about yourself.
This question seems simple enough, but it can trip up even the most experienced jobseekers. Remember, the interviewer is not looking for your life story; they want to know why you are the best candidate for this particular role. Start by giving a brief overview of your professional background and then segue into why your skills and experience make you the perfect fit for this job. (Most job interviews will include this question. It is a good idea to write this out, practice it out loud, and really make sure it is aligned with your vision and purpose.)
How to answer the question, “Tell me about yourself.”
Start with a brief overview of your professional background.
Give a brief overview of your education and/or training.
Again, you don’t need to go into too much detail here; just mention any relevant degrees or certification programs you’ve completed. For example: “I have a bachelor’s degree in computer science from XYZ University.”
Highlight your key strengths and skills.
This is your chance to really sell yourself, so don’t be afraid to blow your own horn a bit here! For example: “I’m an excellent communicator with strong organizational skills. I work well under pressure and am always able to meet deadlines.”
End with a statement that gives the interviewer a sense of where you see yourself going in the future. For example: “I’m looking for an opportunity to use my skills and experience to help contribute to the success of a forward-thinking organization.”
Remember, when it comes to answering the question, “Tell me about yourself,” you want to strike a balance between giving too much information and not enough. Start with a brief overview of your professional background, followed by a summary of your education and/or training. Then highlight some of your key strengths and skills. Finish up by giving the interviewer a sense of where you see yourself going in the future. The hiring process at most companies will include this somewhere – be prepared!)
2. What are your strengths?
When asked about your strengths by the hiring manager, resist the urge to list off qualities like “hardworking” or “dependable.” Instead, focus on specific examples that illustrate how those qualities have helped you succeed in previous roles. For instance, if you pride yourself on being a quick learner, tell the interviewer about a time when you were able to quickly master a new skill or concept.
How to answer the question, “What are your strengths?”
Before you can answer the question, “What are your strengths?” you need to first take some time to reflect on what your strengths actually are. To do this, ask yourself the following questions:
– What do I do better than anyone else?
– What do I enjoy doing?
– What comes easily to me?
– What have others complimented me on?
– What skills have I used in the past to achieve success?
– What do I do that makes people say, “I wish I could do that?”
– What makes me unique?
– What am I most proud of?
Now back them up with examples. The best way to do this is to think of a time when you used your strength/strengths to achieve success. By giving a specific example, you will be able to show the employer that you have the skills and qualities that they are looking for.
Your response should demonstrate that you have the skills and qualities that the employer is looking for. To do this, be sure you are familiar with the job description and that you have done your company research. (Need more strengths? Read this article about online career development opportunities.)
3. What are your weaknesses?
This question can be difficult to answer because you don’t want to give them a reason not to hire you. However, there is a way to answer this question in a way that will demonstrate your honesty and self-awareness, two qualities that employers value. Follow these tips the next time you’re asked this question in an interview. Of all the interview questions you will be asked this is probably the most despised and misunderstood by both the interviewers and the interviewees.
How to answer the question, “What are your weaknesses?”
When an employer asks you about your weaknesses, they are NOT looking for you to list qualities that would make you a bad fit for the job. They are looking for qualities that you are working on improving. For example, if you’re applying for a job that requires a lot of public speaking and you get nervous when giving presentations, you could say something like, “I’m working on becoming more comfortable with public speaking.”
Self-awareness is important in all aspects of life, especially in the workplace. When answering this question, try to focus on qualities that are not essential for the job. For example, if you’re applying for a job as a writer, there’s no need to mention that you’re not great at math because it’s not relevant.
Keep it Short and Sweet
Try to keep your response to this question under two minutes. Any longer than that and the interviewer is likely to tune out. Employers are interested in hearing about your weaknesses, but they also want to hear about your strengths and why you’re qualified for the job.
The next time an employer asks you to describe your weaknesses in an interview, remember to be honest, self-aware, and concise in your answer. Answering this question by framing your response as a development opportunity shows the interviewer that you have a good understanding of your own skills and how they fit into the workplace.
4. Why do you want this job?
Again, it is important to avoid giving generic answers like “I need a job” or “I want a change.” Instead, focus on what drew you specifically to this company and this role. Are there elements of the job description that match your skill set? Is the company culture aligned with your values? By zeroing in on specific reasons why this is the right job for you at this stage in your career, you will be able to demonstrate that you have carefully considered your options and are confident in your decision. This could be one of the easiest interview questions to answer and if you are prepared it may be hard to keep the smile off your face as you make such a good impression on your interviewers.
How to answer the question, “Why do you want this job?”
Your answer should be tailored to the specific job and company. It is not enough to say that you like the company’s products or services. You need to demonstrate that you understand what the company does and what they are looking for in an employee.
Use the company research you did to start drafting your answer: Start by explaining what it is about the company that interests you. Maybe it’s their mission statement or their reputation in the industry. Whatever it is, make sure it is specific to the company and connects to your values or goals.
Next, explain why you are excited about this particular position. Again, be specific and use examples from the job description. If there are any qualities on your list that match up with your own skills and experiences, make sure to mention them here as well.
5. Where do you see yourself in five years?
This question allows the interviewer to gauge both your career ambitions as well as how long they can expect you to stay with the company if hired. It is important to avoid giving an answer that makes it sound like you will move on as soon as a better opportunity comes along; instead, focus on how this role can help further your long-term goals while also being realistic about the fact that career paths rarely go according to plan. For example, if you hope to eventually move into management, explain how this position will give you the opportunity gain valuable leadership experience.
How to answer the question, “Where do you see yourself in five years?”
In order to formulate an impressive response, there are three things you should keep in mind: (1) be specific, (2) be realistic, and (3) be aspirational.
Being specific means that your answer should include concrete details about what you hope to achieve in five years. For example, instead of saying that you hope to “be promoted” or “hold a leadership position,” you could say that you hope to “be promoted to Manager of Marketing” or “be elected Vice President of Sales.”
It is also important to be realistic in your response. This does not mean that you should sell yourself short; rather, it means that your answer should be achievable given your qualifications and the company’s needs. For example, if you are applying for an entry-level position, it would not be realistic to say that you hope to be promoted to CEO within five years. However, it would be realistic to say that you hope to be promoted within five years or that you hope to attain a leadership position within the company.
Finally, while being realistic is important, so too is being aspirational. This means setting high standards for yourself and conveying your drive and ambition through your response. For example, even if becoming CEO is not realistic given your qualifications or the company’s needs, aspiring to become CEO shows that you are ambitious and have long-term goals for yourself.
Answering this common interview question thoughtfully and confidently will put you well on your way towards impressing potential employers and landing the job of your dreams!
5. Prepare Thoughtful Questions for The Interviewer
In order to make the best impression, you need to do more than simply list your accomplishments. You need to ask thoughtful, engaging questions that demonstrate your interest in the company and the role.
Asking questions is also a great way to get information that can help you determine if the company is a good fit for you. With that in mind, here are four questions you should ask during your next job interview:
What does a typical day look like in this role?
This question will help you get a better understanding of what the day-to-day responsibilities of the position entail. It’s also a good way to gauge if the duties align with your skills and interests.
What are the company’s values?
A company’s values give insight into its culture and what it considers important. This question can help you determine if you would be a good fit for the organization.
Can you tell me about a time when you faced a difficult challenge at work?
This question shows that you’re interested in learning more about the challenges associated with the position and how the company’s employees deal with adversity. It also gives you an opportunity to learn more about the interviewer’s problem-solving skills.
What are some projects I would be working on if I were to be hired for this role?
Asking about specific projects will show that you’re interested in getting started right away and contributing to the company’s success. It will also give you an idea of whether or not the projects align with your interests and strengths.
These are just four of the many questions you can ask during a job interview to make a great impression and get valuable information. So next time you’re interviewing for a position, don’t forget to ask some thoughtful questions. (Most people don’t.)
6. Practice Out Loud and Practice Your Body Language
While it may seem like adding an unnecessary step, practicing for a job interview out loud is actually an important step in the process. By doing so, you can ensure that you are conveying the information you want to get across in an articulate and polished manner. Here’s a closer look at why practicing out loud is so important—and some tips on how to do it effectively.
The Benefits of Practicing Out Loud
When you practice for a job interview out loud, you force yourself to slow down and form your thoughts in a more deliberate way. This can be helpful in ensuring that you don’t ramble or provide too much information—both of which can be detrimental during an actual job interview. Additionally, by articulating your answers out loud, you can catch any errors or awkward phrasing before they have a chance to trip you up during the interview.
Of course, simply thinking through your answers isn’t enough—you also need to make sure that you are conveying the right message. One way to do this is by recording yourself while you practice so that you can listen back and get feedback from others. This can help you determine whether or not your answers are coming across as intended.
Tips for Effective Interview Practice
If you’re going to practice for a job interview out loud, there are some best practices to follow to ensure that your practice sessions are effective. For starters, make sure that you are in a quiet place where you won’t be interrupted—this will help ensure that you can focus fully on what you’re saying. Additionally, it can be helpful to stand up while you practice so that you can get used to speaking in front of an audience (even if that audience is just yourself).
Body Language Matters
Everything counts when you’re trying to make a good impression on a potential employer. One often-overlooked aspect of job interviews is body language. Your nonverbal cues can say just as much about you as your verbal ones, so it’s important to be aware of the message you’re sending with your posture, eye contact, and other nonverbal cues. Here’s what you need to know about body language in a job interview, whether online or in person.
Posture and Eye Contact
Your posture and eye contact are two of the most important aspects of your body language in a job interview. Sit up straight and make sure you maintain eye contact with the interviewer throughout the conversation. This will show that you’re engaged and interested in what they have to say. Avoid crossing your arms or legs, as this can come across as defensive or disinterested.
Your facial expressions are also important in a job interview. Smile when appropriate, but don’t force it—you want your smile to look natural and genuine. In addition, pay attention to your eyebrows. Making strong eye contact is important, but avoid furrowing your brows or frowning, as this can give off the impression that you’re angry, concerned, or confused.
Taking time to practice your answers, your introduction, and incorporate your body language into your presentation in a controlled environment creates a memory and muscle memory for your body to use when you are in your interview. But before you get there you will have a mock interview in which to put it all together.
The Mock Interview is Interview Magic
7. Hold a Mock Interview
A mock interview is a practice job interview. It is an excellent way to gain confidence and reduce interview anxiety. Mock interviews also give jobseekers an opportunity to assess their interviewing skills and identify areas that need improvement.
Conducting Mock Interviews
There are several ways to conduct a mock interview. One way is to ask a friend or family member to play the role of the interviewer. Another way is to record yourself answering common interview questions. This is easy to do on most video collaboration platforms or you can use your phone.
If you use a friend or family member, choose someone who will give you constructive feedback. Tell the person conducting the mock interview your job goal and the type of position you are seeking. Ask the mock interviewer to use one of your resumes so that you can practice answering questions about your experience and qualifications. Be sure to take note of any body language cues or nervous habits so that you can be aware of them during an actual job interview.
It is also helpful to review videotaped mock interviews afterwards so that you can see how you come across on camera. Improving your video presence is important because many employers now conduct video interviews.
By asking tough questions and providing constructive feedback, mock interviews help you gain confidence and identify areas of improvement. You can also take multiple angles on a tough interview question and see which answer you prefer to give, how it sounds to your mock interviewer, and make any changes in a safe environment.
The most important part of any job interview – including mock interviews – is responding to questions accurately and confidently. It’s important to remember not only what information needs to be included in each answer but also how it should be presented; good body language (such as maintaining eye contact) speaks volumes about your commitment level and shows potential employers that you are taking their questions seriously – these are easy to practice in your mock interview and can make a real difference on the big day. There are a lot of common interview questions that are harder to answer than we think once we open our mouth and hear the words pouring out.
Mock interviews are an invaluable tool for anyone looking for employment. Not only do they allow applicants to get comfortable with the process of interviewing but they also provide an opportunity for them to practice their communication skills in a safe environment before actually going into an official job interview situation where everything counts towards their success or failure.
8. Interview Checklist – Be Ready For Anything
Be prepared. Make sure you have, at hand, everything you need to ace your upcoming interview. By this time you have done more preparation than most people and should be able to stand out. This checklist is to help you make sure you have everything you need to get through even the toughest interview with ease.
- Three copies of your resume
- Two copies of the job description
- Your questions for the interviewer
- Printed directions (for driving)
- Paper for your notes
- Two pens or pencils
- Carry some cash
- A couple aspirin
- A sweater
9. Ask For the Job in The Interview
The best way to increase your chances of getting a job offer is to always ask for the job at the end of the interview. (Practice asking for the job in the Mock Interviews too!)
When you don’t ask for the job, the interviewer may assume you’re not interested. If you don’t explicitly state that you want the job, the interviewer may hire someone else who was more forthcoming. Asking shows that you’re confident and decisive. Requesting the position also allows you to clarify any misunderstandings about the role or salary.
In today’s competitive job market, you can’t afford to take any chances. The best way to increase your odds of getting a job offer is to always ask for the job at the end of your interview. By doing so, you’ll show confidence, interest, and enthusiasm for the role—all qualities that are sure to impress any potential employer. So don’t be afraid to speak up and go after what you want!
10. Say Thank You After The Interview
A simple thank you message to the hiring manager can be the deciding factor in whether or not you get the job. Sending a thank you note via email is an opportunity to demonstrate your professionalism and your interest in the position. It is also an opportunity to reiterate your qualifications for the position and to address any concerns that may have come up during the interview.
Send your thank you email within 24 hours of the interview. However, if you know that the hiring manager will be making a decision quickly, it is best to send your thank you as soon as possible.
WHAT TO INCLUDE IN YOUR JOB INTERVIEW THANK YOU EMAIL
Your thank you note should include four key elements: gratitude, reiteration of interest, demonstration of fit, and next steps.
First, express your gratitude for being given the opportunity to interview and for being considered for the position. Second, reiterate your interest in the position and what drew you to apply in the first place. This is also an opportunity to address any concerns that may have come up during the interview. For example, if you were asked why you are leaving your current position and did not give a satisfactory answer, this is your chance to fix that mistake. Third, demonstrate why you are qualified for the position by sharing an example of how you would excel in this role based on your experience or skill set. Finally, include next steps such as when you will follow up or when they can expect to hear from you again.
Sending a thank you note after a job interview is not only good manners; it is also good business sense.
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