How to Prepare for a Job Interview

Job interviews can be nerve-wracking. All the effort that you as a candidate put in during the job search and application process culminates in the receipt of an interview. On one side lies employment while on the other side, you fear being dejected and having to go through the process again. But what if we flipped that narrative on its head? What if instead of viewing it as a hurdle to be crossed, you view it as the final step that has to be taken in your search for a job. Over the course of this article, we will discuss other such tips (both technical and mental) that can help you ace your next interview and increase your conversion rates.

1. Read the Job Description Again

While it is obvious that the job description is a great asset when tailoring your resume and cover letter for a job, it can be your best friend in the days leading up to an interview. Because of the amount of information that it provides about your specific job, you would be a lot better equipped to talk about your experiences and how they align with the expectations that the company has set forth in the description.

Once you have read through it again and refreshed your memory on what the prospective job would entail, take a moment to highlight the key skills (both hard and soft skills) that are listed in the description. Evaluate whether you have these skills or not, and in the event that you are not as well-versed on a key skill as you would like, make sure you have a good story about how you would be capable of learning it quickly on the job. Remember that not knowing something is not the end of the world. Being rigid in your stance though can be the end of the interview.

2. Do your Research

This can include talking to employees currently working at the company, going on the corporate website or reading media articles about recent events that the company has been a part of. In short, make sure you know what the company’s mission and vision is and understand how they do what they do.

It can be embarrassing if you walk into a job interview for a company and cannot explain what purpose their products and services serve. Beyond this, it could also be worth researching the key executives in the company and its owners.

3. Mocks and Practice

Contrary to some beliefs, interviewing is a skill that can most certainly be honed and learned over time. However, it only comes through practice. While some individuals are naturally talented at conversing with others, people that may not be as gifted can accomplish similar results by practicing with a group of friends or even in front of a mirror. Being face to face with someone is the closest simulation you can achieve to a real interview environment. However, there are merits to practicing in front of a mirror too.

A majority of what we communicate is not transmitted through our words, but rather via our body language. Therefore, by viewing your reflection, you can identify and eradicate any off-putting behaviors and habits that you may notice over the course of your practice.

4. First Impressions Last

Unless explicitly told to do so by the employer, it is always better to dress up and risk being overdressed rather than underdressed. This means wearing proper business attire that is freshly laundered and ironed with well-groomed hair and clipped nails (if you are a man).

Studies say that people make unconscious judgements about you within the first 10 seconds of meeting you. With that in mind, you don’t want to start off on the wrong foot which could be an obstacle later on even if you happen to be the best candidate for the job on paper. However, the physical impressions don’t stop there.

During your interview practice, make sure to incorporate a section on interview etiquette as well where you rehearse your handshake and your walk. A feeble handshake and a stooped gait can signal that an individual may be nervous and not confident. Therefore, make sure that you grip the interviewer’s hands firmly (but not too hard) and walk with a relaxed, straight back.

5. Be on Time

As clichéd as it may sound, no interview guide is complete without it. A late interviewee can be interpreted as careless at best. To avoid having these impressions placed upon you, make sure you know the way to the employer’s office and have budgeted sufficient time for any unforeseen circumstances such as transit delays or traffic jams. It is far better to be an hour early than 2 minutes late.

6. Be Inquisitive

Unless the purpose of the interview was to gauge the applicant’s technical skillset or specialist knowledge about a topic, the best interviews are those that flow like a conversation between the interviewer and the interviewee. To be able to do this though, you need to be able to carry on a conversation seamlessly.

One of the easiest ways to do this is via intelligent questions. While there is usually a section at the end of the interview where the candidate can (and should!) ask questions to the interviewer, having other questions throughout the course of the interview can indicate that you are curious about the job and genuinely have an interest in learning more about it.

Be careful not to overdo it though – play it by ear and jump in with well-thought out questions if the situation justifies it.

7. Follow ups

After an interview is done, it can be easy to breathe a sigh of relief and forget about it until the call arrives. Wrong. After an interview is completed and after you have got home, crafting out a thoughtful letter that thanks the interviewers for their time can go a long way to establishing you in their memory. The letter itself doesn’t have to be uber-fancy, but should communicate thanks at the bare minimum and possibly an anecdote that you found interesting or amusing during the interview.

8. Know your resume inside and out

Sometimes, applicants may have written a resume a long time ago. Other times, they may have hired a professional or requested an acquaintance to help them write it. In either case, there is the risk that they may not know the full contents of their resume.

In the interview though, any question about the resume is fair game and a failure to answer adequately can once again indicate carelessness. Make sure that you have read through your resume a couple of times before the interview to avoid being caught in an awkward scenario where you struggle to elucidate something that you have written down.