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How To Prepare for a Job Interview Like a Pro

Dive In
  • Writer's pictureThe CareerBeacon Team

The biggest mistake most people make when it comes to job interviews is just trying to ‘wing it.’ Just because you are confident in your ability to do the job doesn’t mean you can easily cruise through a professional job interview without doing any homework.

If you’ve received the call and an employer wants to meet with you about a job that you want, don’t waste the opportunity. Here is how to prepare for a job interview to increase your chances of getting a job offer.

Research the company

Employers consistently say that one of their biggest candidate pet peeves is when the applicant shows up to the interview with little or no knowledge about the company and what they do. They are looking to hire someone who understands the business and is ready to contribute to it.

To prepare for a job interview, read the company website. Google them for any recent news stories, videos, or online profiles. Make sure that you are familiar with the products, services, and business climate of the organization you are interviewing with.

The fact that you are interested and informed about their company can impress the employer, and it will also help you frame your answers and describe your credentials in ways that are most relevant to the job at hand.

Practice your answers

Every job interview is a little bit different, of course. It is a conversation between people with distinct personalities. However, there are broad themes that will almost always be discussed. These include your motivation and ambition, your work style and fit with the team, and your experience and accomplishments. See: How to answer the most common job interview questions.

Remember that there is no universal right or wrong answer. You need to frame your responses to be pertinent to the specific role. If it is a customer service position, highlight your communications, empathy, and problem-solving skills. If you’re interviewing for a management position, demonstrate your strategic planning and your ability to lead a team and deliver results. Whatever it is, make it relevant.

Formulate smart questions to ask

Almost every job interviewer will ask you at some point if you have any questions for them. This is your opportunity to stand out from the crowd of applicants and take control of the conversation.

To prepare for a job interview, be sure to ask the following questions: Ask if it is a newly created position or if you are replacing someone who has moved on. What were the previous person’s biggest challenges? Or what was the position created to achieve? What would success look like?

If your research has led you to any insights about the future of the industry or the company, ask about them. Offer ideas that demonstrate you are already thinking about how to help make the team successful.

Asking smart questions shows that you are a savvy, career-minded candidate who is passionate about the company, has researched the role and is enthusiastic to learn more and contribute.

Compare that with the candidate who asks how much time off they get or what the policy is on sick days.

Plan your route

Job interviews can be stressful. You have a lot riding on the outcome of that one meeting. Don’t compound the anxiety by being late or getting lost. Plan your route to the location and make sure you know exactly how long it will take to get there. If you have time, try a dry run. You’ll get to see the office, experience what your commute would be like, and you’ll know exactly where you’re going.

Then, on job interview day, give yourself at least an extra half hour on top of your estimated commute time, just in case anything goes wrong. Again, you don’t want to add to the stress by having to run and show up flustered. If all goes well and you arrive half an hour or more too early, don’t go in right away. Walk around the block, kill some time. It can seem off-putting to your interviewer if they get the call that their guest has arrived half an hour before they’re ready to meet with you.

Walk-in composed and ready ten minutes before your appointment.

Plan what to wear

The last thing you should worry about at a job interview is how you look. But it matters. So, get that problem out of the way in advance. Have an interview outfit that is clean, pressed, and professional. It’s a sign of respect to the employer and the role that you care enough to dress up and present a polished appearance at the interview.

Your research should come in handy here too. A conservative suit is a safe bet for a job interview for most roles, but different industries have different standards. Dressing too conservatively for a hip marketing start-up might make you look like a poor cultural fit.

Regardless of how formal the sector is, make sure you wear clothes that fit you properly and that you are comfortable wearing. It can shake your confidence and be distracting if you’re sporting an outfit that is ill-fitting or that you don’t feel good in.

Be at your best

Get a good night’s sleep the night before. It is much more difficult to think on your feet and be spontaneously insightful and sharp in conversations when you are overtired.

Get up early enough in the morning so that you have time to eat breakfast and have a pleasant, unhurried morning. This helps to reduce the stress levels and gives you time to prepare properly and go over your planned questions and answers one last time – hence boosting your confidence ahead of the interview. You’ll be low energy if you don’t eat, and you don’t want your stomach growling during the interview.

Then get ready and go with that buffer of time so that you aren’t worried about being late. Doing a little preparation in advance can make a big difference in how you perform and present yourself at a job interview. Make the most of the opportunity and be sure to be kind to everyone you interact with once you arrive at your interview – read this story and learn from this person’s costly mistake.

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