How to Prepare for an Interview

FT Contributor  | 

You’ve spent hours searching for jobs. You’ve sent in countless resumes tailored to job descriptions and designed several cover letters attempting to woo hiring managers. Now, it’s finally happened: you’ve landed an interview with a prospective employer. However, just because you have an interview scheduled doesn’t mean you’ve snagged the actual job. Now it’s time to put in the hard work so you can enter your interview feeling prepared and confident.

Employers interview potential workers so they can learn more about their personalities, analyze how they present themselves, and ensure they have the right qualifications for the position. There’s so much more to you than a 20-minute conversation, which is why your first impression is crucial.

If you implement a few important steps before and after your job interview, you’ll be able to fully communicate why you’re the right fit for the position. Being as prepared as possible can also help to alleviate the nerves often associated with job interviews. If you want to nail your next interview, consider these job interview tips so you know you’re putting your best foot forward.

Research the Company

Knowing details about the job you’re applying for, such as the duties and qualifications, is important. However, you should also learn about the company itself. Before you attend a job interview, do your research. The obvious details you’ll need to know are the company’s location and who you’re meeting with. It’s also beneficial to learn more about the company’s:

  • History.
  • Values.
  • Culture.
  • Industry.

One of the best ways to research a potential employer is to look at the company’s website and social media profiles. Check out the company’s “About Us” section to learn more about what they’re attempting to achieve in the industry.

Analyze your own network of professionals and attempt to make links between people you know and the potential employer. If you know someone who’s done business with the company or even worked there in the past, reach out and ask for details. This firsthand information can give you an inside look at the company’s culture and expectations.

Prepare for Common Questions

While you may not be able to predict every question an interviewer will ask, you can prepare yourself by reviewing common job interview questions. Look over your resume skills section and analyze your past professional and educational experience. You may be asked to elaborate on your hard skills — the skills you learned in school or training — and your soft skills — your personality traits and abilities you learned through experience.

To prove you’re qualified for the position and a good fit for the company, be prepared to answer common job interview questions, such as:

  • What is your greatest strength?
  • What is your greatest weakness?
  • Why does this role interest you?
  • Why do you want to work here?

The interviewer may also ask you to talk about situations you encountered in past jobs, such as when you had to solve a problem without supervision. Be ready with a few examples of your leadership qualities and skills.

Practice Mock Interviews

There’s no better way to prepare for an interview than with practice. Recruit a friend or family member to play the role of the interviewer and take the mock interview seriously. Analyze the answers you provide to common interview questions and how quickly and clearly you speak. Ensure you’re using positive language and avoiding negative words or stories about past experiences.

Ask your mock interviewer how they felt you performed. Consider whether you made good eye contact and portrayed yourself as friendly and energetic. After your friend provides feedback, practice the interview a few more times until you feel confident.

Dress Appropriately

If you’ve scheduled a phone interview for a job, the way you dress won’t necessarily matter. However, if you’re attending an in-person interview, it’s important to dress appropriately for the job you want. Get your job interview outfit ready in advance so you know you’re prepared with the appropriate clothing and don’t have to scramble right before your scheduled interview time.

If you’re applying for a retail job or a position that only usually requires a casual wardrobe, it’s still important to dress in business casual attire. For men, this includes slacks and a collared, tucked-in shirt. For women, this may include slacks and a professional top, a dress, or a skirt with a professional top. Don’t wear jeans, t-shirts, or sneakers for a job interview, even if the position is casual.

Professional jobs based in an office may require business formal attire. If you’re applying for a professional or executive position as a man, wear a business suit. As a woman, attend your job interview in a dress or suit that shows you take the position seriously.

Write Down Questions

It’s common for the interviewer to ask if you have questions at the end of the job interview. By asking a few questions, you show you’re engaged in the interview and interested in the position. When you ask questions at the job interview, it also allows the interviewer to feel you’re building a relationship and having a conversation, instead of simply going through the formal interview process.

Listen to the interviewer explain more about the company and position. Ask any questions you have about these aspects when the interviewer prompts. Consider having some basic questions prepared, such as:

  • What does a normal day look like for the person in this position?
  • What do you enjoy most about working here?
  • What are the most important qualities for a person in this position?
  • What are the next steps in the hiring process?

When you ask thoughtful questions related to the job, you show the interviewer you’re interested in the position. It’s also a great opportunity to interact more candidly with the interviewer and find out more about the job and the company.

Plan to Send a Thank You Note

Sending a thank-you note or email to your job interviewer a few days after the interview shows you’re interested in the position. Keep your note simple, similar to the following example:

Dear Mr. Lowell,

Thank you for meeting with me last week to discuss the administrative assistant position. The role sounds perfect for me since I’m detail-oriented and have extensive computer skills. I’m excited about the opportunity and would love to move forward in the hiring process.

Please contact me if you have any questions or need additional information. I look forward to hearing from you soon.

Sincerely,

Kevin Tamil.

A job interview is a chance to see if you’re the right fit for a position and if the company is the right fit for you. By taking steps to prepare, you can ace your interview and continue through the hiring process.


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