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Job Interview

10 Tips To Prepare For An Interview

Applying for a new job can feel a little intimidating. You want to try something new, but now you have an interview and you’re worried about making a good impression so that they offer you the job. After all, you already cleared the first challenge.

Out of the dozens of resumes sent to the company, yours stood out as one of the best. Celebrate your success, but remember that the process isn’t over yet. You still need to show your potential new boss that you’re ready to take whatever challenges the new job throws your way.

Before heading in for your interview, it can be a good idea to take some time and prepare for the big day. This is your audition and you want to make the best impression you can. Here are ten things you can do that might increase your chances of getting the job.

1. Learn Everything You Can About the Position

As you start preparing for the interview, read the job description so you can understand your potential responsibilities at the company. If possible, look up the job title on resource sites like Monster or Careerbuilder which create detailed career guides on the work environment and expected job tasks.

Along with learning about the position, you should take time to research the company. This will help you better understand what is expected of you as an employee and how your job could be affected. Showing that you took the initiative to learn about your duties and the company you want to work for could give you an edge over other applicants.

2. Pull Together Supplemental Materials

Bring several copies of your resume to the job interview. While the interviewer should have copies of their own, they might not have extras if they invite someone to join them. Many employers will bring in their managers or coworkers to help the interview process and get a second opinion, so you should be ready to meet with multiple people.

Along with your resume copies, assemble supplemental materials that might be useful. Some of these might be more relevant to your job than others. For example, you could include copies of your cover letter, a page of references (remember to get their permission to use them as a reference first!), or sample projects that show what you’ve accomplished. Some people even bring visual aids like charts or graphs to showcase their skills and experience.

3. Research Your Potential Interviewers

LinkedIn is an amazing platform for researching your potential employers. Learn how long they’ve been with the company and how their roles have changed. Get a feel for how many people are at the company and what they do. This way you won’t be blindsided when you meet new people in the interview.

4. Always Dress for Success

Dressing up for an interview

Not all positions require a suit and tie, but that doesn’t mean you should wear whatever you want when you go in for the interview. Wearing a button-down shirt, blazer, tie, and nice slacks (or a skirt for women) shows that you’re committed to this position and will take the role seriously no matter what it is.

Your appearance also extends beyond the clothes that you wear. Consider getting a haircut before the interview so you look presentable to your future employers. Ladies should consider getting their nails done a neutral color, while men should trim or shave their facial hair. You want to appear as clean and professional as possible.

5. Practice Answering the “Tough Questions”

Ask a friend or family member to run through common interview questions to give you practice answering them. This will give you experience thinking on your feet and answering in a clear, concise manner. If there isn’t anyone around, check out Glassdoor’s list of 50 common interview questions and start forming answers to them in your head.

These questions aren’t easy and they’re open-ended for a reason, so it’s important to try to turn any negative answers into a positive response. For example, when asked what the biggest mistake you ever made was or what you biggest weakness is, be honest about your experience and then explain what you learned and how you’re improving from it. Employers can see behind the “my biggest weakness is that I work too hard,” line, so it’s generally wise to avoid it anyway.

6. Create Some Questions of Your Own

Most interviews will end with your potential employer asking if you have any questions about the job or company. As you do your research, make a few notes about the position and questions that you should ask. Remember, you want to show that you’re knowledgeable about the job and curious about what your future responsibilities will be. The Muse actually created a list of 51 questions that you can ask, including:

  • Can you tell me about the team I’ll be working with?
  • How would you describe the work environment here—is the work typically collaborative or more independent?
  • What are the most important things you’d like to see someone accomplish in the first 30, 60, and 90 days on the job?

7. Give Yourself Extra Time to Arrive

When it comes to job interviews, arriving on time is almost like arriving late. Most employers expect you to arrive 10-15 minutes early, even if they make you wait in the lobby until it’s time for your meeting.

If you’re not a punctual person, or if there are outside factors that you have to contend with (like traffic) give yourself an extra buffer for the interview. It’s better to arrive at the company an hour early and sit in your car or at a coffee shop than to arrive 20 minutes late.

8. Bring Something To Write With

Nothing will make you look more unprepared than arriving without a pen and paper to take notes. From having to sign in when you arrive to completing a writing test, it’s crucial that you have your own materials ready. Plus, bringing a notebook and pen will allow you to take notes about the job for follow-up questions later.

9. Send a Thank-You Note After The Interview

thank you card

It takes fewer than 10 minutes to write, address, and mail a thank-you note, so there’s no excuse for skipping this part of the process. Even if they offer you the position then and there, or turn you down immediately, take a few minutes to thank them for their time. It shows that you’re a professional who is respectful of their schedules, and can also remind them of your interview. You’re likely one of many people interviewing for the position, and a thank you card will help you stand out.

10. Follow Up If You Don’t Hear Back

This is the most nerve-wracking part. It’s hard to gauge exactly when you should reach out if you haven’t heard from them, especially if they haven’t given you a window for their decision.

Before you leave the interview, ask for a ballpark figure for when you should expect to hear from them or when they will make their decision. Then, wait three to four days after the window has passed to check in. Businesses rarely function on time, so a gentle reminder can let them know that you’re waiting without seeming too demanding.

Don’t get discouraged if you don’t get called for a follow-up or don’t get the interview. This was great experience and will prepare you for the next one. The best you can do is keep applying and putting your best foot forward until you find a good fit.