10 Essential Steps To Prepare Yourself For A Job Interview
So your resume got noticed and you’ve been asked to come in for a face-to-face interview—congratulations! But in order to shine during the interview and land that job offer, careful preparation beforehand is essential. You need to be ready in advance for the questions you will be asked, have done your research on the company and the job, and have all the necessary documents and references at your fingertips.
Before the big day, be sure to review these helpful pre-interview tips so that you go into your meeting feeling confident and ready to impress your potential new employer.
1. Do Extensive Research on the Company
You should thoroughly research the company you are interviewing with, as you want to make sure you understand the business and anticipate the kinds of questions the interviewer may ask. Good research would include the following:
- Do a Google search on the company.
- Review the company’s website (especially the “About Us,” “Team,” and “Products” sections of the site).
- Review press releases from the company.
- Read over the company’s blog if it has one.
- Review press articles written about the company.
- If the company is public, review its SEC filings at sec.gov.
- Review the company’s LinkedIn page.
- Review information about the company’s competitors.
- Tap into your network of contacts to get any insight into the company you can.
2. Research the People Who Will Be Interviewing You
Before your interview, try and get a list of the people you will be meeting with. Then research these individuals, including:
- Do a Google search on each person.
- Review their individual LinkedIn pages (noting any connections you may have in common).
- Review any information about these individuals on the company’s website.
The goal is to learn about your interviewers’ backgrounds and interests so that it will be easier to establish a rapport. Show interest in them and their role in the company.
3. Anticipate Questions You Might Be Asked
It’s important to think early on about the questions you may be asked so that you can prepare an articulate and polished response. You don’t want to be caught off-guard by difficult questions.
These types of general interview questions are often asked:
- Can you tell me about yourself?
- What do you know about our company?
- Why are thinking about leaving your current job?
- What interests you about this job?
- Can you describe your work style?
- What do you consider to be your greatest strength?
- What do you consider to be your weaknesses?
- Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
- What are your salary requirements?
- Is there anything we didn’t cover that you want to add?
- Do you have any questions for me?
For a full list, read 40 of the Most Frequently Asked Job Interview Questions.
4. Conduct a Mock Interview
Consider doing a practice interview with friends or family members (especially if they have experience interviewing employees themselves). The practice will be helpful and give you more confidence. Ask for feedback on your answers, your body language, and your preparedness. Have the mock interviewer ask both common questions as well as offbeat ones to see how well you can think on your feet.
5. Use the Company’s Products or Services
If you can, you should test and use the company’s products or services—no matter what role you are interviewing for. This will help you prepare for any questions about these products or services that may come up in the interview. It will also show your interviewer that you went an extra step in preparing for the interview.
It might also be useful to check in with customers of the company, to see how they view the product or service, and take note of any constructive feedback they might have.
6. Review Your Facebook and Other Social Media Postings
Employers often review Facebook and other social media sites to get information and background on prospective employees. So make sure to review your online postings and pictures and delete any information that is embarrassing or could cast you in a negative light with the prospective employer.
It’s also useful to Google yourself to see what your prospective employer would see if they did a search on you.
7. Dress Appropriately for the Interview
You want to dress appropriately and professionally for the job interview. It usually won’t hurt to dress more formally for your interview than you would on the job. If you have a contact who works for the employer, ask them about the general dress code. Show up neat and groomed.
8. Arrive Early and Prepared for the Interview
Make sure to arrive at the interview on time (you don’t want the first impression of you to be of a person who can’t be on time). Download directions in advance. Anticipate traffic delays, and get there early (but don’t show up on the company’s door steps more than 5 to 10 minutes early). Make sure to turn off your cell phone so it doesn’t ring or buzz during the interview.
9. Bring the Necessary Documents
You should bring 5 or 6 copies of documents with you for the interview, in case the need arises. Such documents could include:
- Copies of your resume
- A list of references (including each person’s title, company, and contact information such as phone number and email address)
- Copies of reference letters singing your praises
- Work samples such as writings, design layouts, etc. (but make sure you aren’t providing confidential information of your existing employer)
After your interview, you should let your professional references know that the employer might be contacting them. Give them a heads up on the company and job position.
You might also want to bring along a list of questions you have for the interviewer.
10. Check Out Glassdoor.com
You should check out Glassdoor for reviews of the company you are interviewing with. There may be reviews from current and past employees, along with information on salary and the types of questions interviewers ask at the company. These reviews can be helpful for background and to give you a sense of employee issues, but they should not be taken as gospel.
There are a great number of practical steps you can do to prepare for a job interview. By following the advice in this article, you will be better prepared and more confident for your interview. Good luck!