Congratulations, your resume made it into the hands of the hiring manager, and you’ve landed a job interview! At each stage of the job search process, there are so many factors to consider, and the interview is no exception—and arguably the most important part. So, how can you prepare for an interview and ensure that you leave the hiring team wanting more?
An interview isn’t just about speaking to your experience, though. As career expert Jacob Share says, you also need to know how to sell yourself to the interviewer. This requires preparation and research ahead of the meeting. Keep reading for the ultimate guide on how to prepare for an interview.
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Every interview is unique. As you move through the interview process, you’ll see how each stage can offer different questions and require different responses in return. Additionally, the point in your career can determine how you approach the process as well.
Before the interview, it is important to prepare several items, from answers to interview questions, to wardrobe and logistics, to thorough research. Here’s a few things you may want to keep in mind:
Preparing for interview questions can feel daunting—after all, how do you know what the interviewer will ask? While you can’t anticipate everything, there are standard questions that are asked quite often in interviews, including:
When you take the time to practice your responses, this allows you to feel more relaxed on the day. Additionally, the first answer you think of may not be your best. Thinking through additional scenarios can help you land on the best response or the best example to give in your answer.
In addition to the general questions that focus on the requirements of the role and your experience, you may also be asked behavioral interview questions that can speak to your personality and your culture fit for the organization.
Tip: It’s not just about preparing for questions you will be asked. Also be sure that you know what is not allowed to be asked! Check out our guide on illegal interview questions so you aren’t caught off guard.
After you’ve been in the hot seat, the end of the interview is your opportunity to ask questions! This is where many job seekers fumble, so it is critical to take your time to ask questions seriously. Keep in mind that your interview is a two-way street. This is your time to evaluate whether this company is the right place for you to work. If you’re nervous about remembering your questions, there’s no shame in writing them down!
To start, be sure to avoid asking inappropriate or self-serving questions, like “When will I be up for a promotion?” Focus your questions on learning more about how the company and teams operate. This can include questions that point toward company culture, management practices, benefits, and more.
During the interview, there are several things you have to manage at once, aside from simply answering the questions. For starters, calming your nerves can be a challenge for most people. Additionally, there are several easy mistakes that you should watch out for, including:
Of course, if you do make any of these mistakes, there are ways get the interview back on track. However, avoiding these common errors is best.
Additionally, your interview is also your opportunity to win over the hiring manager. While your answers to their questions are certainly the most impactful, your confidence and preparation will also play a key role in making a good first impression.
After you’ve finished your interview, you’ve done the hardest part! However, the work is not done when the meeting is over. Firstly, you will want to be sure to send a thank you note to your interviewer to thank them for their time.
Additionally, you’ll want to make sure to have your references in order if they choose to move forward and ask to call your references or contact a previous employer.
Lastly, depending on the role and the company, you may be asked to complete an assignment after your interview. This can help the hiring committee determine your work style, thought process, and presentation style with a real example from the company. Be sure to put your best foot forward to ace the interview assignment and move onto the final stages of the hiring process.
As you move through your job search, there are ways to optimize your search and increase your chances of getting an interview or even getting your resume in front of an employer! If you’re struggling to land an interview at all, you may want to take a step back and reevaluate your approach.
Additionally, working with a recruiter can give you a partner in your job search who can help you improve your resume and advocate on your behalf to top employers. While there are some misconceptions about working with a recruiter, choosing to partner with one can jumpstart your job search and increase your chances of landing that next interview.
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