How to Prepare For a Job Interview

How to prepare for a job interview
You have just received an invitation for a job interview. After agreeing on a date and time, what is the next step?  Go ahead and congratulate yourself for successfully securing a job interview, but don’t waste your time planning on celebrations just yet. Instead,direct your focus and energy on preparing for the interview. Whether the job interview is in person or online, the tips below can be helpful:

Research the company/ person interviewing you

You want to make a good impression, and although the recruiter may have given you some information about your future employer, it’s still good to do your own research about the company you want to work for. How big is the company? Is it well established or is it a start-up? Who and what are their competitors? Just knowing basic info alone will  be helpful to you as a prospective employee, but researching more will give you an advantage as the interviewer will be able to sense that and will make for a great impression. In most start-ups, the likely person interviewing you is the CEO; make a good first impression by knowing a bit about the person’s background and interests.

Research the position

What is the nature of the position? Is it full-time or part-time? Is there any travel involved? How is the workload like? Supervising 10 people is different than managing 1,000 people. Make sure you are familiar with what you are getting yourself into, the challenges the role may bring, and other things. Go online and find out more about the position or talk to people who have this position or know someone who does.

Make a list of questions

It is important to ask questions; the job interviewer will expect this of you. Asking questions shows that you are interested about the company and the position. It all depends on the questions you ask and how you phrase them: e.g. “Does this position have room for growth?” sounds much better than “Is this a dead-end job?”You can also ask questions about information that didn’t show up in your research, such as if they have plans of expanding, their busiest months, etc.

Make a list of things you want to be covered in the interview

Keep this as a guide, but don’t take it out during the job interview. For example, I would write down things such as work environment, flexible hours, compensation package, bonuses and incentives,growth in the company, and other things I want to make sure will be discussed during the job interview. If one of these isn’t brought up by the interviewer, then I will bring it up when I get the chance to ask questions.

Prepare suitable clothes to wear during the interview

Whether the interview is in person or online, you must wear sensible clothes.Most telecommuting jobs will allow you to work in your pajamas,but in order to secure that job, you need to make a good impression first. ‘Clothes make the man’ as the adage goes, and many recruiters and employers still cite appearance as a major factor in making decisions. For women, it is important to consider your make-up as well. Avoid eye make-up that’s too dramatic for daytime. You want to enhance your features, not look like a clown. Remember that you’re going to a job interview and not to a club. If you’re planning to wear your blazer or jacket and know that it hasn’t been used for some time, take it to the cleaners right away. Pick out clothes that you’ll be wearing for the job interview days ahead and have some alternatives in case of weather or other unavoidable things.

Review your resume, all past achievements, and contributions

As sure as the sun will rise tomorrow, this will be brought up in the job interview. What’s in your resume/ CV is what got you this job interview to begin with, so make sure you are prepared to address questions related to your CV. Make sure that the details that you narrate to the job interviewer corroborate with what’s in your resume; if it doesn’t, you won’t be able to save yourself with lame excuses such as “Oh, I haven’t updated that part yet….”

Make a list of all your strengths and talents

By making a list of all your past and current strengths and talents, you will be able to focus more on those during the interview. If the position you are applying for is not a perfect match with previous positions you had in the past, you can always remind the interviewer that you have the necessary skill set required that you gained from past positions that can help you deliver in this new role.

Compensation package – set your expectations and limitsjob interview

Make your own research and find out what the current standard rate for this position is. Having an idea will help you when the question of compensation comes up. Employers will negotiate, so make sure you set limits. If they offer you something that you feel is too low, then be honest and say that. Don’t sell yourself short. Employers will appreciate your integrity. On the other hand, resist being unrealistic by going to the opposite extreme and setting expectations that are too high. Just be prepared with a range, and don’t stutter when this discussion comes up. When you’ve done your research, you’ll obviously sound more confident about it.

If you are commuting, make sure you have a ride on the day of the interview

Are you taking the bus, train, or driving your car? Make sure you secure a ride on the day of the job interview. If the location is in another town or city, plan to arrive there many hours ahead or preferably a day before to give you time to relax and freshen up for the job interview. You also don’t want to have an empty stomach during an interview.

Make sure you keep your calendar free on that day of responsibilities

Avoid distractions from last-minute engagements; if you have children, enlist the help of a babysitter or someone who can look after your kids while you are away. You don’t want to be worrying about them during an interview. If you booked a sitter, always have a backup on call just in case. Announce to family members not to rely on you for anything during that day to free yourself of last-minute responsibilities, especially the time consuming kind; delegate chores to someone else for the time being.

After much preparation, now it’s time to relax. If you’ve done your preparations correctly, you should be confident enough and just sit back without any worries. Allow for some time before the job interview where you’re not busy doing a lot of work. It’s important to have a frame of mind that’s relaxed and stress-free during the day of the job interview. And when you arrive, be yourself and let your talents shine.

About the author

Mae Davies

BA, MA Psychology (and Conflict Resolution), University of Cambridge (2007). With a decade of trial and error in psychology and 33 years of navigating my own complex (that's one word for it!) relationships with family, friends, co-workers and men, I hope I have some useful knowledge and skills to share with my readers about making sense of relationships and trying to become a better person every day.