4 Crucial Steps to Prepare for an Interview
Your cover letter and resume are great for getting your foot in the door. But once you get called in for an interview, how you conduct yourself and the answers you give are what will determine whether you get the job or not. Prepare to sell yourself well by following these 4 critical tips:
If you are really interested in this position, invest the time to research the company, the competitors and the industry they are in to the extent that you are able to discuss issues and ask questions regarding key staff, competitive landscape, regulatory environment, and product/service trends. Set your self apart with thoroughness of your preparation. You would be surprised at how many people do not research the prospective employer before an interview. This is inexcusable in the age of internet search capability.
Refresh your memory: think about your own work history, life, and achievements. Spend hours over several days making notes for yourself, remembering work you have done, your achievements, your volunteer experience, etc., and dig up all the great things about yourself so that they are close on hand during the interview. Have 4 times as much information as you could possibly say during the interview. It is way better to over prepare and be able to comfortably bring up examples from your past to illustrate answers. Be able to explain a big sale to a tough customer or how well you were able to get along with a difficult team member. Be prepared to explain how you improved the culture in your department or showed up for work on time without missing any days, for 5 years.
Learn About the Position
Especially if this is a new type of role for you, make sure you understand the role you’re applying for and based on the requirements, know what your best skills and qualifications are in relation to the role. Be able to speak about how your strengths will be related to the role as you understand it and also be able to speak about what you will have to learn and how you will learn it. Be ready to discuss in detail; for example, which courses you will take in the evenings, what networking you will do, what books you have already picked up at the library or what associations you have already looked into joining. Everyone says they are a fast learner when confronted with a skills gap; set yourself apart by having a plan and having already started to implement it. Being able to discuss in detail what you do not know shows substantial knowledge and is a great way to overcome the skills gap in the interview.
Be Prepared to Answer Commonly Asked Questions
Your interviewer is bound to ask either, “Why do you want this job?” or “Why should I hire you?” or both. Identify what your strengths are as an employee beforehand and connect them to how they make you an ideal person for the job opening. Speak sincerely and with enthusiasm about the energy, skills, commitment, experience, knowledge, and dedication that you will bring to the position. Overcome your weaknesses or gap in skills/knowledge before being asked about them by stressing your strengths and presenting your plan to acquire the required skillset. Take the initiative and present a solution for your weaknesses.
Dress to Impress
First impressions are extremely important and what you’re wearing will speak volumes before you even shake your interviewer’s hand. The rule of thumb is to dress one step up from the role you’re applying for. For example, if it’s a casual work environment, show up to the interview in a shirt and tie. Wear shoes that are new and in good shape. That goes for any accessories you bring along as well, like a briefcase or laptop bag. Be well groomed; for example, a recent haircut. Be friendly, smile, make eye contact, breathe and relax as much as possible. Be honest about being nervous and wanting the job.
The interview is as much a chance for you to learn about your potential employer as it is for them to learn about you. Don’t be afraid to ask questions. If you are professional and portray confidence in yourself, you’ll be sure to make a positive impression.