How to Prepare for a Job Interview

Looking for a new job? You most certainly are not alone, as millions of Americans are currently unemployed and doing their best to find work. Because of this, you need to make sure that if you can land an interview that you stand out amongst all other candidates. Smart job applicants prepare themselves for interviews, not unlike athletes who spend hours at the gym every day to prepare for each game. The spoils go to the victor, so they say, and you need to make sure that your one shot at employment with that new company goes well and in your favor. By spending time prepping before you step foot in their door, you increase your chances at being remembered by those in charge — and then hopefully hired because of it. Here are some important tips to help you prepare for a job interview before you even put on your best suit and tie and head out the door.

1. Clean up your appearance.
Well, unless your new employer won’t care, that is. Trim your beard, get a hair cut, clean your favorite dress, check those fingernails, shine your shoes. Appearance matters in most cases, so be sure to look your best.

2. Update your resume with current information.
If you sent your resume to this company two months ago and that’s the version they are reading from, is it up to date? Has anything changed in the last two months? Make sure it’s up to date and be sure to bring multiple copies to hand out if necessary.

3. Set up practice interviews.
Ask friends and family to play the role of interviewer with you and pepper you with questions about your job history, interests, long-term goals, etc. Make sure they ask you about everything on your resume, which you should know backward and forward.

4. Find out about the company you are interviewing at.
Research them online, ask around, spend some time on their website, find out exactly what they do. You will probably be asked why you want to work at said company; make sure you have a good answer.

5. Make sure you know a lot about the job you are interviewing for.
If the job is for a software engineer, try to find out exactly what you will be engineering! Unless you are interviewing for a job as a gas station attendant, you should know what it is your job will entail before you step foot in the office.

6. Know everything about your previous jobs.
Favorites, least favorites, job duties, why you left. You don’t want to have to stammer to find the answer when you are asked about previous employment.

7. Consider hiring an interview coach.
If you are really nervous about flubbing your interview, hire someone to help you! Job coaches are available almost everywhere, and an investment in your future is a worthwhile investment indeed.

8. Do not ask about salary.
Let them bring it up, lest you look like you are only concerned about how much you will get paid. If they are interested in you, salary will be discussed.

9. Show up on time.
Nothing says “interview fail” like showing up late. Practice the drive to the location the day before, if you need to. Just do not be late and do not be there any earlier than 10 minutes before your scheduled interview time.

Almost every interview will contain a series of questions asked by the interviewee, so be ready to answer common interview questions. Any book in the bookstore about finding a job will list questions that you should know the answers to, and here are some of the most common ones you may hear:

  • What did you like most about your current or last job you held?
  • What do you like least about your current or last job you held?
  • What are your greatest strengths and weaknesses?
  • How do you handle problems/issues with co-workers?
  • Why did you leave your last job?
  • What is your greatest weakness?
  • What are your long-term goals?

And be sure you have questions for the interviewer as well. You don’t want to be that guy or girl who when asked “Do you have any questions for me?” who answers with a resounding “nope”. Here are a few questions you can ask about your potential employer:

  • What is the company’s plan for the next five years or so?
  • What are the day-to-day responsibilities of this job?
  • How is job performance measured?
  • What do you like about working for this company?
  • Will I receive any formal training?

Job interviews aren’t easy and often cause stress and anxiety. But by being informed before you even go in, you can relieve some of those issues and give them an interview that will land you that job. And if you don’t find out if you got the job or not while still sitting in the building, be sure to send a thank-you note to each person who interviewed you. I’m not talking about a text message, a shout-out on Facebook, or an email. Send a paper note via regular postal mail. This shows class and a true eagerness to want to work for the company.

Happy job-hunting and interviewing; best of luck to you!

(photo credit: philcampbell)

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Comments (2)

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  1. Erik Sanders says:

    Also very important, always be positive. Even when asked why you quit a previous job, try to be as positive as you can be.

  2. Also, either turn off your cell phone or set it to silent… Nothing is more annoying than listening to cell phones go off while trying to interview someone