Interviewing for a job can be nerve-racking. While it’s exciting when you first find out you’ve landed an interview, that elation can easily be followed by stress. But don’t worry – this article lists 10 things you can do ahead of time and during the interview to help you prepare and feel calm and collected, so you can put your absolute best foot forward. Let’s dive in:
1. Research the company and the position
Researching the company – its founders, mission, values, culture, industry focus, and products – will help you to gain a deeper understanding of the challenges the company you will be joining has been solving and what new opportunities are ahead of them. Are they looking to scale operations? Or maybe they are about to launch a new product in a brand-new market? Even if you can’t quite tell exactly what the challenge ahead of your team-to-be is, knowing details about the company will allow you to tailor your preparation by selecting more relevant examples from your prior work/academic history. The more relevant and relatable your examples are, the quicker your interviewers can understand the value you would bring to the team.
Another great tactic is to break down and thoroughly analyze the job description. Try to identify the keywords that reveal what qualities the company is looking for in a candidate. Do they need a self-starter? Maybe someone who’s comfortable working under tight deadlines? Use this additional insight to further tailor your interview examples but also to determine questions you would like to ask your interviewer(s).
2. Prepare your own questions for the interviewer
Interviewing is a two-way street. The interview is just as much an opportunity for you to determine if the job and the team are a good fit for you as it is for your interviewer(s) to get to know you. Therefore, it’s important to ask questions. Some things you may want to determine early on are:
What are the biggest challenges I will face in this role?
Who will I collaborate with daily?
What key metrics will be used to evaluate my performance and success on the team?
Because nerves can easily take over during the interview conversation, it’s a good idea to write down your questions ahead of time. And remember, tailor your questions to your interviewer. If you are speaking to the hiring manager who will be your direct supervisor, then ask about their management and communication styles. If you are speaking to a team member, ask about the team structure, culture, and support systems.
3. Practice your answers out loud ahead of time
Hearing your voice and listening to the answers and examples you plan on using during the interview will help you to craft self-assured and succinct responses. Practicing out loud ahead of time will also allow you to gain confidence in your own ability to present yourself well, thus giving you a chance to relax and be more present when answering the questions during the actual interview.
4. Rely on your resume
Your resume is a wonderful tool to help you highlight your strengths and experiences – and your interviewer will base many of their questions on the information you’ve provided. Make sure to familiarize yourself with the data you’ve listed on it and have clear examples to back up any experience provided.
5. Write down examples from your work and school experience
Even though 45 or 60 minutes may seem like a long time, it really is not. The interviewer has a strict agenda and a series of questions they will want to cover with you, so the hour you have together will most certainly fly by fast. If you want to avoid scrambling for answers during your interview, write down specific examples of your past experiences ahead of time and reflect on them. This way, during the actual interview you can remain composed and can quickly pick the examples that will answer the questions and will highlight your abilities best. Remember, results (or proof points of success) carry a lot of weight, so be sure to reference outcomes with data and specific actions that were taken.
6. Use the STAR method
STAR stands for Situation, Task, Action, Result. It’s a popular interviewing technique that allows you to construct an organized, specific, thoughtful, and concise answer to questions that ask you to provide real-life examples of how you react in specific work situations.
Situation – set the scene and give the specific background of the situation
Task – describe your responsibility/task in that situation
Action – explain the specific steps you took to address the challenge
Result – share the outcomes you achieved
The STAR method provides you with a great framework to tackle even the hardest of interview questions with confidence.
7. Be mindful of your body language
Your body language can often say more than your words (yes, even if you are interviewing virtually). Therefore, it’s important to be mindful of how you are presenting yourself. Sitting up straight with your shoulders back and head held high will show that you are confident and enthusiastic about the position and the interview itself.
8. Stay positive
You’ve probably heard the saying “the power of positivity”, and there’s truth to that when it comes to your job interview. Thinking positively about yourself and what you bring to the job will automatically help you to convey confidence and competence.
Speaking of body language, remember that a smile can make a world of difference. It may seem simple, but the effects of a smile can be significant. A smile tells the interviewer you are excited about the role. It also creates a more enjoyable environment for both parties involved and sets the overall tone of the interview as warm and welcoming.
10. Familiarize yourself with the technology
If your interview is a virtual one, make sure to familiarize yourself with the video technology that will be used during the call. Do you have the right link for the video conference? Does your video camera work? Does it offer the right color and light balance? Is the audio turned on? Checking on your tech setup ahead of time will help you start the virtual interview on time and remain focused and present during the conversation.
Using the tips outlined above properly will ensure you ace any job interview you get called in for. Give them a try the next time you get called in. Have other tips that have worked for you in the past? Be sure to share them in the comments below.