02 Dec How to Prepare for an Interview
Quick! How do you prepare for an interview? If you drew a blank on that one, don’t worry- you’re not alone. We all know interviews are important and we want to do our best, but when it comes right down to it, sometimes we have no clue how to put our best foot forward and get that job. But the good news is, there’s a solution! Preparing for an interview isn’t as stressful as you think. Really, it’s all about following these simple steps.
Review, Review, Review!
Knowledge is power, so it makes sense that you’d want to be armed with as much info as possible when you head into that interview. Here are a few things you’ll want to give an extra close review.
THE JOB DESCRIPTION
This might seem like a no-brainer, but it’s a big one. Paying attention to the job description will help you know if you’re qualified for the position or not, but you’ll want to do a little extra checking beyond that. Think about your skills and how you can apply them to the specifics of this job. For example, a position requiring leadership experience might not ask specifically about your time as the Vice President of your Agriculture Club in college… but you can definitely use that experience to demonstrate why you’d be perfect for the job. In fact, you’ll probably want to do that for every aspect of the job. For each skill, qualification, or experience requirement listed on the job description, be prepared with an example of how you meet those requirements.
This one may seem like a lot of work, but I promise it’s worth it. Reviewing the company website is always a good idea when you’re applying for a job, but don’t just take a quick glance at it—you should review every part of their site. (What??) Read every page, from how the company started to why they do what they do. If they have a blog, read (or at least skim) each post. Your future employer wants proof that you’ve done your homework and that you’re interested in this job, not just any job. So, take a little extra time to demonstrate that you’ve got the dedication, willingness, and initiative to blow them away in your interview.
Learning what’s being said about the company is important too, so do a quick google search for company news. If they’ve accomplished something recently, bring it up in the interview and congratulate them. If they’ve launched a new program or started developing something cool, show off your knowledge and ask about it. And it won’t hurt to connect with them through their social media channels either, so check out their Twitter, YouTube, LinkedIn, and Glassdoor specifically. Doing this can let them know two things: that you keep up with professional social media, and that you’re very interested in them!
INTERVIEWER’S LINKEDIN PROFILE
If you really want some brownie points, go the extra mile and check out your interviewer’s social media as well. Maybe don’t friend them on Facebook right away, but definitely hit them up on LinkedIn. (Here’s a guide for how to get started with LinkedIn.) See if you can find any personal things you can connect with and bring up in the interview. Is your interviewer a fan of the same football team as you? Mention that! Although having a team in common won’t guarantee you the job, making a personal connection with your interviewer goes a long way toward helping them remember you and making a positive impression.
Test-drive some Practice Questions
Interviews are all about getting asked a ton of questions… but what about the questions you need to ask? Failing to think about this part of the interview is an all-too-common mistake, but it doesn’t have to happen to you. That’s why we suggest you give some thought to these questions before your interview.
What is the company culture like?
What types of people tend to do well in the company vs those that tend to struggle?
What are the expected accomplishments/metrics of someone in their first year in this position?
Where does this position fit in the org structure?
Who would you report to?
What does the career trajectory look like?
Who are the top competitors of the business and how does this company differentiate itself from the others?
Chances are, you’ll have uncovered the answers to at least some of these in your research on the company website, but if you weren’t able to find enough info, you should definitely bring them up in the interview. In fact, even if you were able to answer these questions for yourself, it never hurts to bring them up as a point of discussion. Because asking specific, intelligent questions in your interview shows you’re inquisitive and motivated and it makes an awesome first impression.
Get the Details
Miscommunication can kill an otherwise great interview, so save yourself the awkwardness and get the details straight beforehand! When you go into an interview, it’s important to know these things:
The interviewer will probably make it pretty clear whether your interview is on the phone or in person, but no matter how it’s taking place, there are a few extra things you’ll need to know.
If it’s a Phone Interview:
Who’s calling whom?
What time is the call?
Are they in a different time zone? If so, you’ll need to be sure your time aligns with theirs.
If it’s in Person:
Should you arrange your own travel, or will the company provide you with transportation?
Who should you call if you run into travel trouble or can’t find the room?
Knowing who will be interviewing you might not sound like such a big deal, but if your goal is to be extra prepared, you want to know as much about your interviewer as possible. It also helps to know how many people will be interviewing you and how they fit into the company dynamic. You may wind up reporting to all of them, or a few of them, so it’s important that you’re prepared to meet all of them and address the different questions each interviewer might bring. This goes for a phone or a face-to-face interview.
Knowing what to bring to an interview is very important as well. You might want to follow up on details like:
Should you bring additional copies of your resume?
Should you provide samples of previous relevant work?
Do they need references on or before the interview?
Should you prepare for any sort of product demo, case study, etc.?
Though you’ve probably already submitted your resume when you applied for the job in the first place, you might need to bring more, especially if you’re being interviewed by multiple people. The same goes for references, which you may have already submitted, but not all applications require them on the spot. Some interviewers prefer you to bring physical copies to an interview, and that preference is something you’ll want to confirm.
Likewise, if you have relevant samples, such as a study you worked on, or photos of an experiment, you may want to bring these, so you can demonstrate your work experience. This could be particularly important if you’re expected to give a presentation.
So, there you have it: our handy guide for preparing for an interview. While we can’t guarantee that following our advice will absolutely get you the job every time, we can promise that following our advice will help you approach your interview with confidence, knowing you’ve put your best foot forward.
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