Being prepared for the interview process is an essential part of landing a job – individuals who interview well and have the hard skills an employer desires tend to advance through the process. Those who aren’t prepared for the interview are often left behind. Check the tips below for how to prepare for each stage of the interview process:
It’s important to know the specifics of a company before going to the job interview. By doing research ahead of time, hiring managers see that preparation has been done and that the candidate was interested enough to learn about the company before the interview. Many job candidates fail to take this important step. The candidate with knowledge of the company stands out. Typically, you will want to determine each of the following pieces of information about a company to which you are applying:
Finding any written materials available, such as an annual report, can also be helpful. The Human Resources Department may have information and would help the applicant learn more about the company. Many companies have reports and other materials online.
Questions You Will Be Asked
Being able to speak and write well are essential skills. During the interview, employers want job candidates to answer questions concisely, in an intelligent way, using good grammar. They don’t want to hear “ah’s” and “um’s” or, “like, you know.” They want to see if you have good presentation skills and would represent the company well. Could clients or customers understand what you have to say? Could they confidently have you give a presentation to upper management?
A typical opening question asked early in the interview may be to ask the candidate to talk about themselves. Answering this question and subsequent questions will give the interviewer an early indication about a candidate’s suitability for the position.
Therefore, being prepared about the right response is essential.
There is no way to predict the exact questions that will be asked, but the sites shown below can help as they include examples of probable questions. Days before the interview, potential candidates can choose several to answer or role play with a friend who can select random questions. Practice gives the candidate an opportunity to make changes to strengthen answers. Confidence will build as well.
Several websites will provide an example of potential interview questions:
Questions You Should Ask
Employers appreciate job candidates who ask appropriate questions as it demonstrates the candidates are serious about the position and have taken the initiative to learn about the company. Prepared questions demonstrate to employers that the potential candidate is serious, pro-active and invested in the job search.
But note these cautions:
Having good questions prepared will demonstrate confidence and interest rather than appearing uninformed. This also supports a desire to be thorough. For an initial interview, it would be advisable to come prepared with between 5-10 questions. However, every interview and interviewer is different and the amount of time spent with job candidates varies. Prioritizing questions helps candidates address their primary concerns first.
Generally, it is important to cover these key areas:
Some questions may be answered during the interview and being prepared to insure all your concerns are addressed will allow both the candidate and the interviewer to feel the discussion was thorough. Asking questions also allows the employer to see the candidate’s personality. When an interview becomes conversational, it provides insight into the candidate’s social skills. Employers are less willing to hire people if they feel they will be unable to be “part of the team.”
Check out these resources for additional help preparing yourself and questions for your interview:
Prepare to Talk About How Your Experience Will Help the Company
The employer wants to know you can help solve a problem or fulfill a need they have. How does your work experience relate to the skills that are needed? The interviewer will be looking for a match. If you list skills on your resume that have no bearing or give examples that are unrelated to a desired set of skills, the interviewer won’t see a match.
Some interviewers will start by talking about the company and what they need. Listen carefully if they do as you can then point out examples on your resume that show you have experience dealing with a particular problem or need.
Other General Tips
An initial or screening interview may be conducted by phone instead of face to face. From the employer’s perspective, it can be a good way to hear:
The phone interview is extremely important as it can determine if a job candidate moves forward for further consideration.
Because of the large number of job candidates, phone interviews may be conducted by recruiters hired by a company or Human Resource professionals within the business. Candidates who have the skills and have made a positive impression might then be referred on to hiring managers for the next interview.
Preparation for the phone interview should require the same planning as done for a face-to-face interview. This means researching the company and devoting time to practice answering interview questions. A phone interview may be as short as 15 minutes. Job seekers can impress the interviewer by following the following suggestions:
There are several tasks which, when done in preparation for the job interview, provide the candidate with greater assurance of success. Here are suggestions to make the preparation go smoothly.
Determine Location Prior to the Interview
Research the location where the interview will be held well ahead of the scheduled time. If time permits prior to the interview, consider a drive to the site at the same time as the interview, if possible, to judge traffic conditions. Find the nearest parking facility. If the office or room for the interview is unclear, perhaps go into the building to find out the exact room or office.
If driving a distance, use a map service to find exact directions and note the time they recommend – then add 30 minutes. It is essential to arrive at least 10 minutes early to the interview.
NEVER be late!
It is always possible that unforeseen problems could occur, such as a terrible accident delaying traffic. Always have the hiring manager or interviewer’s phone number so a call can be made immediately to let them know of the situation. Notifying the interviewer of the delay is something that job seekers must do to be considered a serious candidate.
An important step in preparing for a job interview is determining the appropriate attire for the position. Hiring managers will form an immediate impression based on the appearance of the candidate because the choice of attire indicates the importance the candidate has placed on the potential position. Choose interview clothing prior to the interview, insuring the attire is clean and pressed. Eliminate scuff marks from shoes and select appropriate accessories prior to the interview. Preparing attire well ahead will insure preparation for the interview is as stress-free as possible.
It is best to come in professional business attire for an interview unless specifically instructed to wear something more casual. This typically means a suit or dress that includes classic accessories such as a tie, subtle jewelry and/or a blazer.
This demonstrates the importance of the interviewing process and allows the candidate to highlight themselves, rather than distracting the hiring manager by bringing attention to their attire.
Every company wants to make sure their employees represent them well to customers and clients. Appearance is therefore critically important.
Materials to Bring
Copies of resumes and other relevant material should be prepared in advance. A portfolio or folder to be taken to the interview with these materials, along with any questions to be discussed, should be placed for easy access when ready to leave for the interview.
On the day of the interview, remaining calm is important. Having the right mindset for the interview will allow the candidate to appear confident and relaxed. Each candidate understands how they are best prepared, individually, with the right meal, exercise, music, etc. The candidate should approach the interview as poised and prepared as possible to insure the potential employer has a positive first impression.
On the Day Itself
After arriving to the interview site, a last minute check is always in order. Find a restroom and:
Job seekers should arrive at the office 10 minutes early. It is courteous to greet the receptionist with a genuine smile, letting him/her know of the interview appointment.
In all likelihood, it will be necessary to wait. While seated, there are ways to make a good impression. For instance, sit up straight. Don’t chew gum or use an electronic device during this time.
When the interviewer meets the job seeker, they be watching will be watching for how the candidate:
To make the best first impression, walk up to the interviewer with a genuine smile, make eye contact, and give a firm handshake.
Wait to be invited to sit down. During this time, the interviewer is observing everything the job seeker does and is forming an impression. Make certain to not slouch in the chair but have good posture and lean forward slightly. It will be easier to pay attention and remain engaged in the conversation this way.
When leaving, thank the interviewer with a smile and a handshake. It is appropriate to ask what the next step will be in the interview process and when and how the decision will be made. Thanking the receptionist before leaving is important to do as well.