Would you start to cook dinner without the necessary ingredients? Would you begin to build a desk without the right tools? Whether you are making dinner, putting together a new desk, or interviewing for a job, preparation is key to a solid start and a successful finish. No matter what type of job you are applying for, it is essential to thoroughly prepare before your interview. The more preparation that you have, the better chance you will have of impressing the person across the table and landing the job.
Research the organization
Get to know your audience by completing adequate research about the available position and the company. Never step into an interview without doing your due diligence regarding job and company research. As an interviewee, you are expected to know about the company that you are interviewing with in detail. Visit the company’s website, review their history and mission statement, read recent press releases and study their products and services. Go a step further and use or test a product or service. This will give you an even deeper understanding of the company and show the interviewer that you’ve gone the extra mile.
Look up the people
Researching the organization is crucial, but don’t forget about the people. View LinkedIn profiles or Twitter accounts, read internet bios, and get to know the leadership team and the person that you will be meeting for your interview. It helps to ease nerves during those first exchanges when you feel as though you already know a little bit about your interviewer. This makes it much easier to establish a natural rapport from the beginning. Understanding the experience and qualifications (even hobbies or volunteer activities) of your interviewer or potential future boss can also aid in aligning your behavior and responses with their expectations.
Analyze the job description
Understand the knowledge, skills, and abilities required for the job and match your résumé with the listed requirements. Review all aspects of the job and note any gaps in qualifications and prepare to explain these gaps if asked in the interview. Recognizing how your strengths and weaknesses line up with the job requirements will help you to tailor your answers to the needs of the company in order to better position yourself as the best candidate for the job.
Prepare a list of questions
The interviewer will be expecting to field a few questions from you so be ready to ask your own questions at the end of your interview. Whether your questions surround the culture of the company, the future of the organization or what a typical day looks like in the open role, it’s necessary to be inquisitive in order to show the interviewer that you are serious about the position. It also helps you to better understand the position and company in more detail, so if an offer comes your way and you have a decision to make, you will be ready to either take the plunge or pass on the opportunity.
Practice responses to interview questions
Whether you do a mock interview with a friend or think about answers to commonly asked questions, it’s necessary to mentally prepare for résumé-based, behavioral and case questions, and consider how you might go about responding. Using a mirror or recording yourself on your phone can provide helpful feedback that you can utilize to improve your interview technique. Have an answer to the common question, “Tell me a little bit about yourself,” so that when asked at the beginning of the interview, you come out of the gates ready to shine.
Plan ahead the night before
Don’t wait until the morning of your interview to print out your résumé and pick out your outfit. The evening before your big day (or even earlier!), you should ensure that you have all required materials ready to go, including résumé copies, a pen and notepad, a portfolio of your work if applicable, and any information that you might need to fill out an application such as contact information for your references or previous employment details. Ensure that you have clear directions to the interview location and make sure that your interview outfit is wrinkle-free and ready to go. Leave the morning of your interview open so that you can eat a balanced breakfast, meditate, and relax as you get ready for your big day.
Whether it’s a phone, Skype or in-person interview, thorough preparation is key to a positive turnout. A contract position, part-time job, or full-time employment all require thoughtful preparedness to ensure that you walk in the interview with confidence and walk out of the interview with a chance at your dream job.