Interview preparation is a crucial step in the job search process. Whether you are a new graduate or a veteran in your field, taking the time to properly prepare can make a big difference in the outcome. You also want to stand out from other interviewees. According to Forbes, an average of 118 people apply for a single job and only 20% are offered an interview. Thus, you don’t rely on luck to ace an interview and land the job of your dreams.
Tips To Prepare For A Job Interview
Here are a few best practices to keep in mind as you prepare:
1. Research the company and the role
It’s important to have a good understanding of the company you are interviewing with, as well as the specific role you are applying for. Look up the company’s mission, values, and products or services. Find out as much as you can about the team you’ll be joining and the industry in which the company operates.
Taking the time to research a company ahead of an interview can help you speak about what you will bring to the company and how your skills align with their needs. You may want to look into:
- A company’s culture: Evaluate whether the work culture aligns with your values and factors that contribute to your overall job satisfaction.
- Key players of the organization or who you would be working closely with: Look into the CEO or other top leaders in the company. But don’t stop there. Look into the specific department you’d be working with.
- The person interviewing you: You may know who you are interviewing with. If so, look into who they are, their background, their interests, or other commonalities between you and them. You can use these points to create a connection quickly in the interview.
2. Review the job posting and your resume
Make sure you are familiar with the requirements and responsibilities of the role, as well as your own qualifications and achievements as they relate to the position. Remind yourself about both hard and soft skills listed on your resumé and be ready to talk about them. Additionally, if there are any skills on the job posting that you don’t currently have or are not well developed, be sure you can talk about what you would do to fill your skill gap. For example, are you a quick learner and able to pick hard skills up quickly? Are you resourceful and able to figure things out on the fly? Interview expert, Barry Drexler recommends a three-step approach to discussing a situation you don’t have experience with (yet) or a skill you have not developed:
Step 1: Demonstrate you have knowledge of the skill. What do you know about it? If you don’t know anything about it, that’s okay too. State that you are not familiar with the skill (e.g., a specific software) and ask them to explain it to you.
Step 2: Provide examples of similar skills that you currently have or situations where you’ve handled something similar.
Step 3: Express your eagerness and willingness to learn.
By reviewing the job description shortly ahead of your interview, you may also find areas you want to ask more about. Remember, interviews are a two-way street. You are being interviewed by the company to see if you are a good fit, but you also want to evaluate whether the company is a good fit.
3. Practice common interview questions
There are many common interview questions that you can expect to be asked. A quick Google search will provide you with laundry lists of these questions.
Take time to think about how you would answer some of the most common interview questions. These include:
- Tell me about yourself.
- Why do you want to work for this company?
- What are your strengths and weaknesses?
In the video below, Richard McMunn shares answers to common interview questions.
Practice answering these questions out loud to get comfortable with the format and to think about how you want to present yourself.
4. Keep your answers short and concise
Answering interview questions concisely is a great way to demonstrate confidence and competence. You want to minimize rambling to maximize clarity. When you ramble on, interviewers may have a hard time following your logic and thought process. Whenever possible, provide past work examples as a reference point to show your capabilities of doing the work/project. To answer questions as concisely as possible, you can pause before answering to think through what you want to stay.
5. Prepare questions to ask the interviewer
It’s important to have a few questions prepared to ask the interviewer about the company and the role. This shows that you are interested and engaged in the conversation. Asking questions in an interview can be a great way to demonstrate your interest in the company and the role. Here are a few types of questions you might consider asking:
Questions about the company: Asking about the company can show that you have done your research and are genuinely interested in the organization. Examples include: “Can you tell me more about the company’s mission and values?” and “How has the company evolved since it was founded?”
Questions about the role: Asking about the role can help you better understand the responsibilities and expectations of the position. Examples include: “Can you describe a typical day in this role?” and “What are the biggest challenges someone in this position might face?”
Questions about the team: Asking about the team can give you insight into the company culture and the people you’ll be working with. Examples include: “How would you describe the team culture?” and “What do you enjoy most about working with this team?”
Questions about career development: Asking about career development opportunities can show that you are thinking about the long term and are interested in growing with the company. Examples include: “What opportunities are there for professional development within the company?”
It’s important to strike a balance with your questions – you don’t want to ask too many or too few. And be sure to listen carefully to the interviewer’s responses and ask follow-up questions if necessary.
6. Dress appropriately
Make sure to dress appropriately for the company culture and the role you are applying for. Research the company’s dress code and aim to dress one step above that. The saying goes, “It’s better to overdress than underdress.” You may also consider dressing in alignment with your personal brand. This helps you show up authentically and allows the company to quickly get a better sense of who you are as both an employee and a person.
7. Arrive on time
Whether you are interviewing in person or virtual, it’s absolutely imperative that you show up on time. For in-person interviews, is to arrive at least 15 minutes before the scheduled start time. If you don’t have instructions on where to go when you arrive at the interview, you’ll want to introduce yourself to someone at the front desk and let them know who you are there to see.
If it is a virtual interview, be sure you have the application downloaded. Test the software ahead of time. Additionally, test the specific meeting link shortly before the scheduled interview time. Arrive in the meeting room earlier than the scheduled start time so you can be admitted as soon as the team is ready.
Showing up to an interview ahead of time demonstrates that you are punctual and reliable, allows you to get in the right head space, eliminates stress in case of unexpected delays, and allows you to review your resumé and or materials you prepared ahead of time.
8. Present yourself positively and confidently
During the interview, stay positive and confident, even if you are feeling nervous. In addition to some of the tips mentioned above, consider maintaining natural eye contact and minimizing fidgeting. Maintaining eye contact demonstrates that you are engaged, interested, and listening. Fidgeting, on the other hand, is a telltale sign of nerves. Audit your behaviours in the weeks before an interview and evaluate if you engage in any subconscious fidgeting. This may include hair twirling, tapping, squirming, and leg shaking. By being aware of subconscious behaviours, you can stop them as soon as you notice yourself doing them.
Interviews are an exciting but nerve-wracking experience. If you’ve finally been offered an opportunity to meet with a company, be sure to prepare for the interview ahead of time. By following these best practices, you will be well-prepared for your interview and can increase your chances of success. We hope these tips on how to prepare for an interview will be of use in your job search. Good luck!
Director of Recruitment
Yousef is the Director of Recruitment at Jarvis and is responsible for managing the recruitment team and overseeing delivery. He provides day-to-day support and mentorship to the team.
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Jarvis is a leading IT consulting firm headquartered in Canada that provides total talent solutions with ongoing partnerships across North America’s top financial institutions, cutting-edge startups, and major technology companies.
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