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How to prepare for an interview

Published: 30 November 2022

Author: Julie Robinson

Category:

Preparing for an interview takes time and effort. You need to be ready to make a great first impression, stand out from the competition, and convince the hiring manager that you’re the best person for the job. A big part of a recruiter’s job is to help candidates get to the point where they feel as ready as possible to do this for whatever role they’re applying for. We can help with how to prepare for an interview.

Here’s a checklist of things to do before a job interview to get ready to wow them.

Research the company
Research the interviewer(s)
Prepare your answers to common questions
Prepare your stories
Learn to apply the STAR method
Prepare your questions
Research salaries
Practice
Choose your outfit
Map your route
Give yourself a pep talk  

A candidate should know how to prepare for an interview and know their stuff about the company and the role and be ready to talk about themselves in an informative and compelling manner. They should be dressed appropriately, on time, and able to handle curve balls, should one fly their way.

How to prepare for an interview. 

Research the company 

Candidates not researching the company before the interview is one of the top pet peeves of hiring managers. Don’t show up not knowing what the company does. What goods and/or services do they manufacture or sell? What are their mission and values? Who works there and what is the company culture like? Who are their competitors? Learn as much as you can by checking out the company website and social channels and reading employer reviews on sites like Glassdoor. Hiring managers are impressed by candidates who show up knowing their stuff.

Research the role

Also learn as much as you can about the job for which you’re applying and what is expected of the person who does it. Is it a new job? How many people have done it before? Who will you be reporting to? Some of this information will be in the job description but not all of it. 

Research the interviewer(s)

If you can find out who will be interviewing you, do so. You may find something you have in common that you can bring up in conversation or an accomplishment to which you can call attention. People love it when their accomplishments are acknowledged. Or maybe you’ll discover that you went to the same high school or university. You never know. Be mindful of crossing boundaries. You want to learn about their professional credentials and maybe some hobbies they post about on public platforms, like LinkedIn or Instagram, not their marital status and where their children go to school. You don’t want to look like a stalker.

Prepare your answers to common questions

You can find lists of the most common job interview questions around the internet and most interviewers are going to ask some (or all) of them. These include,

“Why should I hire you?”
“Where do you see yourself in five years?”
“How do you handle conflict?”
“What’s your greatest achievement?”

Prep your answers to these and other common questions and go in knowing what you’re going to say.

Prepare your stories

Storytelling is a great way to capture the interviewer’s attention and some questions will open the door for you to turn your answers into compelling narratives with a beginning, middle, and end; behavioral and situational questions like:

“Tell me about a time you solved a problem.”
“Tell me about a time you faced a conflict with a coworker.”
“Tell me about a time you went above and beyond.”
“Tell me about a time you reached a big goal.”

Make a list of your accomplishments. Go back through your career and list all the things you’re proud of – solving a problem, increasing revenue, launching an initiative, saving a project, and write all those things down. (Maybe you should have done this while creating your resume, to be honest. But better late than never.) These list items will serve as foundations for some of your stories.  

Learn to apply the STAR method

The STAR method is an interview technique of answering behavioral questions by structuring your responses to describe the specific Situation, Task, Action, and Result. The STAR method will help you build your stories and tell them in a simple and effective way. To break it down:

Situation is the challenge you faced.
Task is your responsibilities attached to the situation or your role in it.
Action is the measure(s) you took to fix the situation or how you played your role.
Result is the positive outcome of the actions you took.

Prepare your questions

You’re going to have to ask your own questions in the interview, so make them good ones. Not asking questions will make you look like you’re not interested in the job or enthusiastic about it. Avoid questions about salary or vacation time, and apply the research you did about the company to your questions. For example, ask about company culture, what challenges you might face in the job, and what you’d be expected to accomplish in the first six months.

Practice

If you’re rusty and haven’t been out for an interview in a while, ask a friend or family member to run over your answers and stories with you. Get them to ask something not on your list to see if they can trip you up. If you don’t have anyone available to practice with you, just get in front of the mirror and talk to yourself.

Choose your outfit

Plan what you’re going to wear the night before. Make sure it fits and doesn’t have tears or big stains on it. These are the sorts of surprises that can really mess with your plans. Wear bottoms! Even if the meeting is on Zoom. We know we’ve all become accustomed to dressing from the waist up for these video meetings since the onset of COVID but you never know when you might have to stand up unexpectedly.

Map your route

If you have to be onsite for the meeting, figure out where you’re going beforehand. Being late for the interview makes a terrible first impression, so map  your way there and know how long it will take – then leave extra time in case of delays.

Give yourself a pep talk 

You’re a talented and accomplished professional and you deserve a great job that you love. Remind yourself of these things and take a deep breath. We hope these tips on how to prepare for an interview were helpful! Now, go for it. 

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