When you’re looking for a new job or a career change, one thing that you’re likely to come across is a job interview. No matter your opinion on the practice of in-person job interviews, it’s in your best interest to be prepared for when you will inevitably face one.
Understand the Job Interview Process
Before you are invited in for a job interview, you will have at least one point of contact within the organisation—after all, someone has to be the one to invite you to the job interview. Make the most of that point of contact. Ask relevant, thoughtful questions if you are unsure of how the interview process will unfold. Understanding where to be, who you will be meeting with, and what to expect, will help put your mind at ease, and will make preparing for the interview less stressful.
Don’t be afraid to ask questions. Sometimes we worry about wasting the time of others, but getting the information you need to make the most of your interview isn’t a waste of time. In reality, you’ll end up wasting more time trying to flounder through the process without all of the proper information.
Do your research via the web and LinkedIn
Be sure that you have a solid working knowledge of the organisation at which you will be interviewing. You should be able to speak with some about the mission and vision of the organisation, and how your values and goals align. You should have more than just a general knowledge of the company or firm. The interview process is a chance for you to prove that you’ll be a good fit, that you are professional and well-prepared, and that you can help your potential employer reach their goals.
Practise key questions
There are many key questions that apply across industries, related to your skills, weaknesses, goals, and passions. Write down your most valuable skills, your opportunities for growth, and your personal goals. Consider how these different categories align with what you know about the company or organisation with which you are interviewing. You’ll also want to review any industry-specific questions you might encounter—be sure you are up to date on regulations, best practices, and recent research depending on your field.
Have examples to hand
In addition to practising your answers to key questions, you’ll want to be prepared with examples to back-up your responses. If you have a professional portfolio or profile of some kind, you’ll want to make sure that it is up-to-date and that you are familiar with what you have there. You should also be able to reference specific accomplishments from your past that support your talking points. The more detail you have to offer, the better—just know that you may not have to bring up every point throughout the interview!
Practise with someone you know
To avoid pitfalls like oversharing and rambling, practise, practise, practise! Rehearse your points and ideas out loud—sometimes we don’t realise the best way to articulate our ideas until we hear how strange they sound coming out of our mouths!
Practising by yourself, out loud or into the mirror, is a great way to get started. What’s even better is to practise with someone you know well. I say someone you know well because you’ll want to hear their honest opinion. Ask them to note any areas where you seem confused, unsure, or lacking in confidence. Focusing on those areas will assure that you use your prep time wisely.
Look at your non verbal communication
One area that you want to focus specific attention to, while preparing and during the interview itself, is your body language. Maintaining professional body language can be a challenge when we are stressed or uncertain of ourselves. It’s important to project confidence, openness, and to show that you are an active listener. Standing and sitting up straight, keeping your body language open, considering questions and comments thoughtfully, and looking people in the eye are great places to start.
Plan what to wear
The question of what to wear to a job interview has been discussed and debated for years. My opinion on the subject boils down, more or less, to the old adage, “dress for the job you want.” Wear what will give you confidence and make you feel comfortable. My biggest advice though, is to plan what you’re going to wear ahead of time. Things like which shoes you are going to wear can add a level of stress to preparing for your interview, and if you can get those worries out of the way early, you’ll be in a better mindset to prepare and rehearse.
Plan what to bring
Depending on what position you are interviewing for, and a number of other factors, you’ll want to plan what you need to bring with you. It could be a physical portfolio, a laptop and drive, your personal notebook and lucky pen… the options are really endless. Set your things aside ahead of time, make sure that your travel plans are in order, and give yourself plenty of time to have a relaxed trip to your interview.
Once you’ve completed the dreaded interview, you’ll realise that it’s never as scary as we make it out to be in our minds—especially if we’re well-prepared. At that point, you should feel comfortable reaching out to follow up on the interview. Be sure to thank your interviewers for their time, follow up with any information that you didn’t have at the time, and ask if there is anything else that they need from you. A quick, thoughtful note can go a long way in showing what type of employee and person you are.
Preparing for a job interview doesn’t have to be a stressful process. If you begin preparing with enough lead time, you can address all of the areas of uncertainty that underlie your stress. Take the time to get the smaller things like travel plans and wardrobe squared away, so that they are off your mind. Give yourself the time and headspace to do research, practise your interview responses, and assemble the resources needed to support your claims. The interview is your chance to show exactly what you have to offer, and how you would take this organisation to the next level. If you’re in the process of finding a new career, reach out today for a complimentary consultation!