Once you’ve blown their socks off with your CV, the next step is impressing at your interview. Not only that, but fully preparing for an interview will help you remain calm so that you can be at your best. Here are some things to think about when preparing for your interview:
- Look back over the job description– Reminding yourself of the job description will help you prepare for the skills and experience they’re looking for that you should make sure you talk about. The more you can align yourself with these details, the more the employer will be able to see that you are qualified. If possible, also research similar positions and read reviews from individuals in those positions, so you can get an idea of what the day-to-day activities will be. During the interview, ask for clarification or details about the role, so you can be sure you're ready should you receive a job offer. Researching the role before an interview will also help you to decide whether the position is right for you.
- Why do you want the job- Be prepared to explain why you’re interested in the job and why you’re the best person for the role.
- Research the company - Researching the company you’re applying to is an important part of preparing for an interview. Not only will it help provide context for your interview conversations, but it will also help you when preparing thoughtful questions for your interviewers. Here are a few things you should know before you walk into your interview:
Even if the role isn't directly related to the company's product or service, you're still looking to be part of the team. It's important to learn all you can about the product or service the company produces and promotes. You don't necessarily need to understand every detail, but you should have a basic understanding of what they offer.
Modern companies usually have social media accounts and blogs that discuss their company culture and industry. This information can give you an impression of the tone and personality of the company, as well as what they value. No matter how good a job seems, it's important that you fit within the company culture and share a similar personality and values.
4. Consider your answers to common interview questions- While you won’t be able to predict every question you’ll be asked in an interview, there are a few common questions you can plan answers for. You might also consider developing an elevator pitch that quickly describes who you are, what you do and what you want. There are some jobs that may involve a test or evaluation during the interview process. You should also prepare to discuss your salary expectations, just in case. If you’re unsure about what salary is appropriate, visit Indeed's Salary Calculator to get an idea.
Here are a few examples of common interview questions:
Mention the aspects of the company that appeal to you and align with your career goals.
Employers ask this question to make sure you understand the role, and to give you the opportunity to highlight your relevant skills. It can be helpful to compare the role requirements against your skills and experience. Choose a few things you particularly enjoy or excel at and focus on those in your answer.
This question gives you an opportunity to talk about your technical and soft skills. When an interviewer asks you to describe your strengths, share qualities and personal attributes and then relate them back to the role interviewing for.
5. Practice your speaking voice and body language- It’s important to make a positive and lasting impression at your interview. You can do this by practising a confident, strong speaking voice and friendly, open body language.
6. Ask questions - Many employers feel confident about candidates who ask thoughtful questions about the company and the position. You should take time before the interview to prepare several questions for your interviewer(s) that show you’ve researched the company and are well-versed in the position. Ask about the workplace environment, culture, personality, and values, too. Remember, the interview is also the perfect opportunity to see if you’ll be happy working there, as well. Some examples of questions you could ask include:
- What does a typical day look like for a person in this position?
- Why do you enjoy working here?
- What qualities do your most successful employees have?
- I’ve really enjoyed learning more about this opportunity. What are the next steps in the hiring process?
7. Practice- Just like public speaking, practising interviews is the best way to relieve anxiety and improve your confidence. The practice may feel tedious, but repeatedly experiencing the interview process will make you more comfortable and help you give the right impression. If you have friends or family to help, conduct mock interviews as much as you can. If you don't have another person, practice your questions and answers out loud. You may find that an answer sounds awkward or doesn't convey what you wish when it's spoken, so this gives you an opportunity to refine your answers and commit them to memory. The more you repeat your interview, the more confident you'll be during the real thing.
8. Bring printed copies of your CV- Most employers receive digital copies of your CV with the application, but they may not have easy access to it during the interview itself. Having a few copies to present to multiple interviewers (and one for you) shows that you're prepared and organized. During your preparation, read over your CV and rehearse explanations for any gaps that may appear or other oddities. For example, you may have taken time off work to care for a child or family member, switched careers or had other legitimate reasons for employment gaps. These can be a concern for employers, so it's best to prepare your explanation to show them that you're not a risk. You may also encounter questions about your CV that are awkward. It's important to be honest but diplomatic in addressing them. For example, you may have left a job because of your supervisor or manager, or policies that you didn't agree with, but you don't want to speak negatively about a former employer. Consider these possible questions and prepare your answers in advance, so you don't accidentally say something you'll regret.
9. Prepare your travel arrangements - Job interviews tend to be stressful for most people for many reasons, but getting to the interview can be a challenge in itself. If your interview is in an unfamiliar area or even an entirely new city, it can be a source of anxiety to find your way around and make sure that you show up on time. To avoid becoming too anxious about your commute, prepare yourself to ensure everything goes smoothly on the day of the meeting. Here's how:
This may seem obvious, but it's better to leave with plenty of time to get to your interview, even if it means arriving way too early. Even if you leave yourself a few extra minutes to get there, small obstacles can be enough to make you late, such as heavy traffic, accidents, no parking or trouble finding the building. If you arrive too early, just use the time to go over your notes and mentally prepare for your interview.
Even with plenty of time for your commute, sometimes situations out of your control can still cause you to be late. If something happens and you know you'll be a little late, call your interview coordinator and make them aware of the situation. Most people are empathetic to these situations and understand that some things just can't be helped, especially if you're letting them know in advance and have a reasonable explanation. In this situation, the worst thing you could do is show up late without any notice and try to explain yourself.
Most interviews are scheduled days or weeks in advance, so you have time to research the location. If your interview is close enough, you can take a day to go to the location and check out the parking, take note of the traffic and find the suite or office where your interview will be. If you're anxious about parking or any other aspect of the location, contact your interviewer to ask them for more information.
10. Sell yourself - One of the biggest challenges in an interview is selling yourself. Most people are uncomfortable with this idea, but presenting yourself accurately and positively doesn't have to feel like a sale. The truth is that you do have professional skills and experiences that may set you apart from other applicants, so it's acceptable and expected for you to acknowledge them to your potential employer. When you prepare for a job interview, make note of your skills that relate to the role and think of how your experiences and abilities can contribute to the overall goals of the department and company. Your answers will be somewhat short, so you want to choose the most positive and relevant information to share during the interview. If you have metrics or stats to show your accomplishments or growth during your previous roles, they're a great help in selling yourself during the interview. For example, you may have increased sales by a certain percentage or increased social media engagement in your last position. Whatever accomplishments you have, don't be modest about sharing them during your interview. Your potential employer wants to know that you'll be the right fit and that you can deliver something to the company, so they need to know all the reasons that you can provide that for them. If you don’t know the answer to a certain question, it is perfectly acceptable to pause for a moment and simply state, “Let me think about that for a moment.” The employer will appreciate you taking the time to give them a thoughtful answer. Be sure to provide specific examples wherever possible. Taking time to prepare for an interview will ultimately help you feel more relaxed and confident during the process.
11. Follow up after the interview - After your interview, you should prepare to follow up with the employer. Doing so reminds the employer of your conversation, shows them you are genuinely interested in the position and gives you the opportunity to bring up points you forgot to mention. Here are a few steps you can follow when crafting a follow-up note:
- In the first paragraph, mention the specific job title and thank your interviewer.
- In the second paragraph, note the company’s name as well as a conversation point and/or goal that seemed especially important to the person you spoke with. Connect that point to your experience and interests.
- In the final paragraph, invite them to ask you any additional questions and close by saying you’re looking forward to hearing back.