How to prepare for and ace a job interview
You’ve done it — you’ve impressed an employer enough to score an interview. So what’s next? Check out these tips on how to interview for a job.
Before a job interview:
- Before an interview, do your research. It may seem like an obvious point, but many people miss it. Memorizing your resume is not enough to learn how to interview for a job. Walk into your interview with an understanding of the company. This way, during your job interview you can answer questions with a direct aim toward the company’s goals. For example, you might have an interview with a publishing company. Find out exactly what they publish. If they publish children’s books, you could mention your work experience at an after-school reading program. Employers are looking to hire people who demonstrate an interest in their company. It’s even better if you can find information about your interviewer before your interview. Where did the person go to school? What did he/she major in? Do a little stalking to get ahead of the game.
- Before an interview, research yourself. You may think you know yourself, but you need to be ready to answer questions that ask you to describe yourself. Don’t let such questions catch you off guard if you’re not prepared. A common interview question asks what a potential candidate would bring to the company. As practice how to interview for a job, it would be wise to keep a mental list of strengths in mind that apply to the particular jobs. Make sure to have real-life examples of each strength, said Blue Sky Interviews.
- Before an interview, prepare your papers. Get everything that you might need for your interview together and put it in a professional folder. This includes multiple copies of your resume, work samples, recommendations and a list of questions to ask your interviewer, according to Career One Stop. But, as you practice how to interview for a job, don’t just stick the papers in the folder and forget about them! You need to look over every document you’re bringing to the interview and familiarize yourself with it. It’s likely that your interviewer will use your resume as a base for the interview, so be ready to elaborate on certain duties and skills. Samples of your work can be valuable in an interview, but only bring them if they are relevant to the particular position.
- Before an interview, prepare to dress smart. Don’t let the anxiety of figuring out what to wear to an interview get to you. Plan your outfit well ahead of time so you won’t be frazzled or late to your interview. It doesn’t matter if the office will visit follows a business casual dress style — always come in full business wear for an interview. Ladies, an appropriate-length skirt suit or pantsuit is perfect. Guys should definitely wear a tie and jacket. Make sure there are no stains or tears, and don’t forget to iron! The most important thing is that you leave for the interview feeling comfortable and confident so you’re not thinking about how you look during that important job interview.
During a job interview:
With the spring semester getting almost in full-swing, many students are starting to prepare for the “real world” by tailoring their resumes, putting in applications, and even beginning to get job interviews lined up.
1. During the interview, tell them what you can do for them.
This is crucial when you learn how to interview for a job because the employer wants to know why he/she should be picking you over the next person. By showing the interviewers that you understand they have a problem they are looking to solve and that you can offer them solutions, you are increasing your chances for that callback. Identify what it is that uniquely makes you the solution to their problem.
2. During the interview, never seem desperate.
With unemployment still lurking high, employers understand that everybody is looking for a job. By telling them that you really need the job, you will only seem more desperate. Companies are not looking to hire desperate employees. They want members who in good economic times or bad, are going to put their best work and best efforts forward.
3. During the interview, be open.
Don’t be afraid to be flexible! Show the employer that you can be flexible and work different hours than normal, or that are willing to take an unconventional, non-nine to five office position.
4. During the interview, market yourself.
Remember the key phrase you’ve heard since you were little, “practice makes perfect?” This phrase remains very true today. As you practice how to interview for a job, have a friend ask typical job interview questions. Remember, shape your responses based on each specific position. By practicing your pitch, when it comes time for the big interview, you will be polished and ready to answer any question they throw your direction with confidence and poise.
5. During the interview, don’t talk badly about an old job.
Don’t go blabbing to your new interviewer about your terrible previous job. You’ll look desperate and it will make the interviewer question what you might say about his/her company if you ever have to be let go. Stay positive.
6. During the interview, keep your email professional.
Most people of our generation got their first email address back in elementary school or even junior high school. However, it’s been at least 10 years since that time so the email addresses email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org are probably not the best contacts to share with your new potential company. For the purpose of looking professional, create a simple email address such as email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org that incorporates your name. Such a professional address looks great to employers (unless they are pretty princess in pink enthusiasts…)
Read more about job interview strategies on CNN.com.
After the job interview:
As you practice how to interview for a job, remember that the interview is not over when you leave the office. You still have to do the following:
1. After the interview, send a thank-you note.
Send your interviewer a thank-you note as soon after the interview as possible, according to Best Interview Strategies. Most thank-you notes are sent by email nowadays, but if you really want to go out of your way after an important interview, send one by mail. A thank-you note does one obvious thing: It thanks the person who interviewed you for taking time and consideration to speak with you. Moreover, a thank-you note will reemphasize to your employer just how much you want that job and reinforce a good impression, said Job Bank USA. But, keep the note brief and to the point.
2. After the interview, follow up cautiously.
Quint Careers advises interviewees to wait seven days after the interview before making a follow-up phone call. If you weren’t contacted by then, it’s perfectly fine to give them a call. Try to call in the early afternoon, when they’re less likely to be busy. Say that you’re still really interested in the job and want to follow up on your application status. Be brief and pleasant in your call.
Unfortunately, it is common practice for employers not to inform interviewees of a declination. So if you followed-up more than once and it’s been several weeks, it may be time to move on with your job search.
Unsure of what to wear for an interview? Find out in our lifestyle section!