7 Days to Mastering the Art of the Interview
Module 2: Top 10 Job Interview Preparation Tips
How to Prepare for an Interview
Your hard work sending out all those cover letters and résumés has finally paid off — you’ve been called in for a face-to-face job interview. Congratulations! But now is not the time to sit back and think about how you’re going to spend your new salary; you’ve got a lot of work to do. The better prepared you are beforehand, the better your chances are of walking out of the interview with a confident smile on your face that says, “I think I got the job!”
Keep in mind that in the competitive business world, there are sure to be dozens of other highly qualified candidates going after your job. It’s important to make yourself stand out as someone special. Now is the time to practice exactly how you will sell yourself to a prospective employer during that crucial first meeting.
Preparing for an Interview
Here are 10 important tips to help your next interview lead to your next job:
1. Do your homework
Research the company beforehand so that you can showcase that knowledge during the interview. This will boost your credibility with the interviewer and will help you to formulate intelligent questions to ask him or her.
2. Know where you’re going
Make sure to find out where the office is and how to get there. Do you know how long the trip will take? Do you have the name and phone number of the person you’ll be meeting with? Do you know how easy it is to park? Save yourself time and unnecessary stress by knowing these things before heading to the interview.
3. Look the part
Your clothing should be neat, pressed, and professional looking. As it can be difficult to know the culture of the office environment beforehand, err on the side of conservative. Even if everyone’s wearing jeans when you arrive, you’re still probably better off having shown up in a suit. However, don’t be afraid to inject some personality into your look, and don’t neglect the details. Make sure to have a fresh haircut and clean, manicured nails.
4. Rehearse beforehand
Prior to your interview, prepare answers to common questions the interviewer is likely to ask, such as What are your strengths and weaknesses? Why do you want to work here? Why should we hire you? and the ever popular Tell me about yourself. Conduct a mock interview with a trusted friend as practice.
5. Secure your references
Find at least three key people — former supervisors, colleagues, or instructors — who are willing to serve as your professional references. Be sure to secure their permission beforehand, and be certain that they will speak highly of you if contacted by a potential employer.
6. Arrive early
Be sure to arrive at least 15 minutes before the interview. Visit the restroom and check your appearance in the mirror. Announce yourself to the receptionist to let him or her know that you have arrived and that you have an appointment. Turn your cell phone off so it doesn’t ring during your meeting.
7. Bring necessary documentation
Make a checklist of documents that you will need for the interview, and make sure that you have them in your briefcase before leaving home. These documents may include extra copies of your résumé, a passport, driver’s license, Social Security card, or portfolio of writing samples or other professional work. If you are a recent graduate, you should also bring along your college transcripts.
8. Sell yourself.
The interview is your chance to shine, so now is not the time to be humble. Develop a 25-second sales pitch that sings your praises. In business this is called an “elevator speech,” a compelling overview of why you? that can be recited in the time it takes to ride the elevator. It should include your strengths, your abilities, and what sets you uniquely apart from other applicants.
9. Don’t neglect to ask questions
Based on your earlier research, ask how the responsibilities of the open position relate to the company’s goals and plans for the future. Interviewers are often favorably impressed by candidates who show that they are knowledgeable about the organization.
10. Follow up
After the interview, don’t forget to send a handwritten note or friendly email thanking the interviewer for his or her time and consideration, as well as restating your interest and commitment to the position. If you don’t hear anything after one week, call to politely inquire when they will be making a final decision.
Remember to keep this in mind: Every interview is a valuable learning experience. Even if you don’t get this particular job, when the next interview rolls around, you’ll be much better prepared and more at ease with the whole process. All of which can go a long way to boosting your confidence and improving your chances of being offered the next job. Good luck!