Tips To Prepare For An Interview

After applying to countless jobs, you’ve finally been offered an interview – congratulations! Even better, it’s with a company you’ve been dying to work with. As you wait for the day to arrive, you may be experiencing nerves as a result of the anticipation. Just know that interview nerves are normal and experienced by many people. Although you may try to completely mitigate your nerves, they can actually help you stand out from other candidates. However, you are going to want to get them under control before the big day. Taking time to prepare for an interview can help you can show up with confidence, feel equipped to answer questions, and be able to discuss why you are a suitable candidate. 

There are many ways to prepare for an interview ahead of time. Some people spend countless hours scouring the internet with searches such as “questions to prepare for an interview” or “common interview questions”. However, there are other steps you can take that may better equip you. Here we provide suggestions for what you can do before an interview so that you feel prepared for the big day.

Dig deep and research the company

To prepare for an interview, spend time researching the company you are interviewing with. You’ll want to learn as much as possible about execs, stand-out employees, and the company itself. To effectively research a company, it is important to be resourceful and to look beyond information in the job post. Use Google and social platforms to really dive deep. It can be helpful to look into:

  • The company’s mission, vision, and values: Evaluate whether you align with what they stand for.
  • The services and products offered: Get a better understanding of what the company does and what your role might look like.
  • What makes them unique: How do they stand out from competitors? What is their differentiator?
  • The people: Look for the top executives, people that may be on the interview panel, and other key players to get a sense of who you would be working with.

You can use the information you gather to:

  • Demonstrate that you researched the company
  • Decide what accomplishments to highlight when answering questions (more on this later)
  • Formulate questions you want to ask during the interview. Asking questions during an interview can help you stand out from other candidates.
  • Connect with interviewers. You may also learn something about one of the interviewers which you can bring up as a way to connect and break the ice.

Identify your hard and soft skills and be ready to talk about them

You probably applied to the position because at least some of your hard and/or soft skills match the job requirements. You’re likely to be asked questions during the interview where you will need to talk about these skills. So, when you are preparing for an interview, think about what you bring to the table. Be ready to discuss your hard and soft skills broadly, but also more specifically in relation to the position. Although you don’t necessarily have to be an expert in everything listed in the job post, you should be able to talk about why you are a good fit for the role. For example, you may not be proficient in a particular hard skill but because you are resourceful (soft skill), you’ll be able to pick up the job quickly. Before the interview, identify your hard and soft skills relevant to the job and be ready to talk about them.

  • What are soft skills? Soft skills are personal attributes that help you excel in the workplace. They can set you apart from other job applicants. These include characteristics such as adaptability, resourcefulness, independence, and communication abilities.
  • What are hard skills? Hard skills are technical skills that you learn through training. These include skills such as computer programming, nursing, engineering, and data analytics.

Jamie Birt, career coach, recommends using the STAR interview response technique to answer questions about your skills. The STAR method includes answering behavioural-based questions by covering the following details in this particular order:

  • Situation: Present context for the story or example you are about to deliver. This should be brief and only contain the pertinent details
  • Task: Provide information about your role or responsibility in the situation. 
  • Action: How did you act in the situation or what did you do to face the challenge presented to you? You should spend more time on these details compared to the Situation and Task.
  • Result: What was the outcome of the situation based on how you acted? This is your time to shine and demonstrate how the experience impacted you, the company, or the people around you.

Identify top accomplishments that you would want to share during an interview

Chances are, you will be offered the opportunity to share some of your top accomplishments. Thus, to prepare for your interview, take time to think about certain situations you are proud of. Gary Burnison, CEO of Korn Ferry, reminds us that interviewers are interested in hearing about your accomplishments rather than the activities you participated in. Why? Because the employer wants to know how you will contribute to the success of the company rather than the details of what you did in the past. This is your chance to share what you bring to the table. Identifying your accomplishments and thinking about the stories that go along with them is a fantastic way to prepare for an interview.  

Activity: Brainstorm some of your top accomplishments. To do this, I recommend sitting down with paper and a pen or a device that allows you to take notes. Jot down everything that comes to mind as a proud life accomplishment. The examples don’t have to be significant moments or necessarily related to the job. Instead, they are accomplishments you are proud of for one reason or another. Once you’ve generated a list, identify which stories are most likely to resonate with your potential employer. You may want to think about accomplishments that demonstrate your character as a person, employee, and colleague.

Bonus, this is an amazing pre-interview confidence booster! Who doesn’t love being reminded of all the amazing things they’ve accomplished?

Research the company

To prepare for an interview, spend time researching the company. You’ll want to learn as much as possible about execs, stand-out employees, and the company itself. To effectively research a company, you need to be resourceful and look beyond the information in the job post. Do your own research using Google, various websites, and social platforms. It can be helpful to read about:

  • The company’s mission, vision, and values to see if you align with what they stand for
  • The services and products offered so you know what the company does and what your role might look like

You can use the information to:

  • Demonstrate that you researched the company and learned more than what was in the job description
  • Decide what accomplishments to highlight. Is there a particular accomplishment that aligns with something you read about the company or someone at the company?
  • Formulate questions you want to ask during the interview. Asking questions during an interview can help you stand out from other candidates.
  • Connect with interviewers: You may also learn something about one of the interviewers which you can bring up as a way to connect and break the ice.

Manage your stress on the day of the interview

Preparing for an interview ahead of time can help minimize stress the day of. This includes mapping out where you need to be and how long it will take you to get there. If you’ve never been to the location before, it may be beneficial to take a drive or walk to see the area and evaluate whether there is any unreported construction, parking limitations, or other barriers that could impede you from showing up on time. 

Although preparing for an interview the days prior is important, what you do the day of can also matter. To manage your stress on the day of an interview you may:

  • Get ready somewhere that makes you feel positive, energized, and calm
  • Limit distractions (such as social media) so you can stay focused on what is to come
  • Use deep-breathing techniques or meditation to mitigate nerves or anxiousness
  • Give yourself enough time to travel to the interview so you have spare time if something unexpected happens and have enough time to regroup before the interview starts

On the day of the interview, remember to show up early, but not too early or check your tech ahead of time if it’s a virtual interview. Additionally, remind yourself that interviews are just a conversation. You want to work for the company and the company is hoping to find the right candidate

Be ambitious but modest

Interviewers often ask questions about where you see yourself in the future. For example, you may be asked, “Where do you see yourself in ‘X’ years?”. Common answers to this type of question are, “I’d like to be a manager” or “I’d like to be head of my department”. Although this shows a level of enthusiasm and room for growth, be strategic in how you answer this question.

Interviewers love a balance of modesty and ambition. Rather than saying, “I’d like to be a manager” it’s often better to acknowledge the work and skills you’d need to develop to be a suitable manager. For example, you could answer this question with, “I want to develop skills that would help me be a manager one day including leadership skills, learning from my peers, and becoming proficient in the technology we use.” This is much more effective and indirectly demonstrates that you want to be a leader. You can adapt the template above to find the happy medium between modesty and ambitiousness. To prepare for this interview question, you can think about where you want to be in the future and practice how you would respond.

Visualize positive outcomes

Visualization is a technique that involves thinking about and seeing a situation before it happens. For example, before attending a job interview, you would visualize each step of the interview process and walk through how you would approach different situations. Visualizing a situation before it happens can bring about a sense of calmness when you are actually in the interview. Often, this is because you are prepared for the questions that interviewers are asking. You can also visualize positive outcomes. For example, think about and picture how it would feel to receive a job offer after the interview. Using visualizations allows you to feel prepared and establishes a positive mindset so you feel confident walking into an interview.

Job interviews are stress-inducing situations regardless of your level of experience or competence in a role. To prepare for an interview, you’ll want to spend time thinking about how you would answer certain questions. In addition, it’s important to mentally prepare the day of so you enter the interview in a relatively calm state. Regardless of the outcome, you’ll know you gave it your best effort if you implement some of the suggestions above.

Client Operations Specialist

Zana Aziraj Mušanović

As a Client Operations Specialist, Zana is responsible for ensuring that the onboarding process goes as smoothly as possible for both candidates and the clients.

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Seanei Gibbons - jarvis-logo-red-highres

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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