How To Prepare For A Job Interview

Elizabeth Enck

Elizabeth Enck

Career Counselor

Interviews are often the part of a job search that people dread the most. Although writing your resume and submitting a job application is stressful, the purpose of those materials is to get you to the interview stage. The odds are, in most of your job searches you will be asked to interview. This interview could be over the phone, in-person, virtual, or all of the above. Although it’s normal to be nervous, there are ways that you can prepare and make sure to put your best foot forward.

Know Yourself

In interviews you are being asked a number of questions and the subject is something you should know a great deal about: you! You may have not been sitting around thinking about yourself in great detail recently but you want to make sure to have answers to the questions you may be asked. Employers want to know some common things about you such as your interest in their company and positions, your strengths and areas that are challenging for you, and experiences that you have had that will help you succeed in this job. You are going to want to spend some time thinking about your skills, knowledge and experience. Make sure you know exactly what is on your resume because asking questions about anything on it is fair game too. Once you have really thought about what you can bring to this position you will be more prepared to answer questions.

Do Your Research

Another important thing to do before the interview is research the company or organization you are interviewing with. Just like they expect you to know yourself, they also expect you to know a little bit about them. Make sure to find out information such as their products or services, customers, mission and value, and even competitors. If you can show that you have taken the time to find out about them it will help convince them that you don’t just want a job, you want this job. The company’s website is the best place to find information. Take a look at all of the sections of their site. You may want to look for an About Us section or something similar. Another way to find information is to do a search of the company online to see if there are any articles or stories about them. This can be a good way to know about any recent developments with the company. Some companies are also on social media. They may have an account on LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, etc.

Practice, Practice, Practice

Interviewing is something you can become better at doing. Although it may feel awkward to think about practicing your interview with someone, it’s much better to feel awkward before the interview than during it. You can ask a friend or family member to go over some questions you think may be asked. This will help you to become more comfortable with your answers. You don’t want to try to memorize answers but think about having a mental outline to follow. This will help you to be more prepared. Also, ask the person interviewing you if they have any feedback on your non-verbal behavior such as posture and eye contact. Here are some common questions you may want to practice.

  1. Tell me about yourself.
  2. Why are you interested in this position?
  3. What is your greatest strength? Weakness?
  4. Tell me about a time that you had to solve a difficult problem.
  5. What do you know about our company?
  6. Give an example of a time you took on a leadership role.
  7. Why should we hire you?
  8. Do you have any questions for us?

Impressions Count

While it’s important to think about the verbal part of an interview, it’s also very important to think about the non-verbal part. Interviewers won’t just take your answers into account; they will look at the whole picture. How you present yourself counts. This includes your attire and non-verbal behaviors. You want to make sure you are dressed appropriately. If you’re unsure what to wear, don’t be afraid to ask. You will want to dress up more for the interview than you will on the job. This may include a suit or it may be dressing business casual in dress pants and a collared shirt. Make sure you have good posture while sitting in your chair. You don’t want to slouch which can make it look like you don’t care. It is also important to maintain eye contact through the interview. You don’t have to stare the interviewer down but make sure you are connecting with them when answering questions and not looking at the ceiling or the floor.

Confidence is Key

Although you may not be feeling confident about your interview yet, appearing confident during the interview is important. Employers want to know that you believe in yourself and what you are telling them. There is a difference in being confident and being arrogant though. Make sure that you believe in yourself but still show humility. One way to gain confidence is practicing, as I mentioned earlier. This will help you to feel prepared and confident about your answer. Another tip: fake it until you make it. Sometimes you have to act like you are confident even if you aren’t quite feeling it. By acting like a confident person you will appear like one and it’s also likely you will actually become one!

Follow Up

I’ve had many questions over the years about following up with employers. After your interview, proper etiquette is to send a thank you note to your interviewer/s. It is now appropriate to send an email thank you note or to send a letter through snail mail. The important part is that you write one. This is a way to show your interviewer again that you are taking this seriously and that you are still interested in this position. In the note make sure to thank them for their time, reiterate your interest in the position and you may also want to mention something you talked about in your interview that would help the interviewer remember you. Before you leave the interview make sure you know the names and contact information of your interviewers.

These top tips are ways that you can make sure to do your part to stand out in a positive way during your interview. If you focus on these areas you are more likely to have an interview that you feel good about and more importantly, that the employer feels good about.

About The Author

Elizabeth Enck
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Elizabeth Enck

Elizabeth Enck was a career counselor at The University Of Tennessee for 6 years. She worked with undergraduate, graduate students, and alumni with their career planning and job searching. This included providing assistance with resumes and cover letters, interviewing including conducting practice interviews, and guidance through the job search process. She has a Master’s Degree in Counseling with an emphasis on career counseling.

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