Preparing for an interview takes more than showing up 15 minutes early in a nice outfit. It may be stressful for some, and that is why we’ve compiled our best pre-interview tips for you. Follow these steps of preparation to convey yourself as the perfect fit for this position and land the job.
- Research the Company
Start by spending a few hours reading about the company and learning everything you can. Learn about recent news, events, company culture, and values the company prioritizes. Get a sense of “who” the company is so you can reflect that image in the interview. Look deeper than the company’s website, look at the company’s Facebook and Twitter pages, recent press releases, blog post, and Glassdoor. These sources will tell you up to date news about the company, as well as what type of employees work there.
And want to really be prepared? It may seem odd but find your interviewer on LinkedIn or Facebook and learn a bit about them. Bringing up a subtle, brief connection during the interviewer will leave a lasting impression and be easy to mention in a follow-up email.
- Know Yourself & Prepare for Common Questions
Even if you’re experienced when it comes to interviews, it’s important to spend time thinking about what skills, experiences, and accomplishments will apply to this position. Make sure to have an answer to “tell me about yourself” ready. This is often the first question, and it’s intended to get a sense of who you are as a person and what you find valuable to mention. Keep it relevant to professional experience that is explained as a short story as to how you got to where you are today.
Having mock interviews beforehand will help you feel more comfortable when the actual interview happens. Recreate it with a friend, or practice in the mirror at home. Videotaping yourself answering the questions will allow you to give yourself critique. As well as behavior to avoid, saying “uhm,” slouching, forgetting to smile, fidgeting, etc. Make sure to research all sorts of common questions and keep this in mind while answering:
- Take a brief pause before answering
- Speak clearly, and enthusiastically
- Talk in short narratives, explain the experience as a story
- Remember to smile
- Make eye contact
- Keep the answer on topic, and try not to ramble
- Handshake when meeting and closing an interview
Week of Preparations
- Get Directions
Make sure to know where the interview is being held. This includes which location or branch, the floor number, and have the contact information of the interviewer on hand.
Often, this will be explained when the interview is set up. Make sure to look up the location beforehand. When deciding on a time to leave, make sure to account for traffic, getting lost, using the bathroom beforehand, or any inconvenience that may happen.
- What to Bring
Make sure to bring a portfolio or black folder to the interview. Holding copies of your resume for each person interviewing you, letters of recommendation, list of references, copies of your works to complete the portfolio, a writing utensil, or written questions to ask at the end of the interview.
More importantly, remember what not to bring to the interview. This can include anything that reflects unprofessionally or can cause inconvenience. Avoid bringing in your cell phone or keep it on silent. Try to avoid bringing in a water bottle or cup of coffee, this is often offered when you arrive anyways. Lastly, never chew gum during your interview.
- Dress to Impress
Dress for the job that you want. Being overdressed in an interview situation is always better than appearing unprofessional. It shows that you are taking this process seriously and carry yourself well.
Always have an interview outfit ready, and that it is fitted and clean for use. First impressions are important, and often happen the moment the interviewer sees you.
Consider your makeup, hair style, and accessories. Having good hygiene and looking well-put together is very important in any position you’re applying for. Be sure to research and plan the best way to make your first impression.
- Practice Interview Etiquette
Proper interview etiquette is important. Make sure to greet the receptionist, your interviewer, and anyone else you meet enthusiastically. Remember, everyone is a part of the process when executing an interview. If you interacted with someone it’s likely your interviewer will ask them what they thought about you.
Before the interview, arrive 15 minutes early. During the interview, pay attention to your body language, if you’re fidgeting, how fast you’re talking, etc. Nonverbal cues are very important, and make sure to take time before responding and allowing them time to take down notes. There will be silence at times, and that’s perfectly fine.
Remember, the interviewer wants you to be yourself and see your personality. It’s okay to ask relevant questions during the interview that gives flow to the interview and makes it more conversational.
Always be sure to make eye contact while shaking each interviewers hand before and after the interview. While thanking them for taking the time to meet with you, and that you look forward to hearing from them. Just remember to be yourself and smile, and you’ll do great.
Always be sure to send a follow-up thank-you email or note. Start by thanking them for meeting with you and giving you the opportunity to learn more about the position.
Lead into why you believe you’re experience makes you a great candidate for the job. Including something personal that was talked about during the interview that will leave a lasting impression. End the email by encouraging them to reach out for any additional information, and that you look forward to speaking with them in the upcoming [time discussed.]
Be sure to follow business email etiquette. Incorporating block style writing, 2-3 sentence paragraphs, appropriate sign-off with your current title and phone number, etc.
Thank-you emails may be sent a few hours after the interview, or even the following Monday if the interview took place right before the weekend. Either way, make sure to send an email or print copy to thank your interviewer after the interview.