Preparing for a Job Interview

During your job search you will (hopefully) be called in for an interview at some point. Most companies use interviews as a way of getting to know an applicant better and to gauge whether or not they are qualified for the job.

It is important that you are well-prepared for the interview.

Usually employers will make their decision about you during this session so it's imperative that you make a positive and lasting impression.

There are a few ways you can prepare for a job interview ahead of time so you ace the interview and make yourself a prime candidate for the job.

Mastering the job interview is a skill that is vital for all job seekers and a skill that will prove to be invaluable for your entire working life. The average US citizen will have over 10 jobs in their lifetime so this is something that you will call upon time and time again.

Here are some job interview preparation tips for the big day.

Job Interview Preparation Tips

Research the Company

Employers will be impressed if you come into a job interview with knowledge of the company. Before the interview, check out the website of the company. Learn about the history, number of employees and other facts that they may display on their website. You can throw these little quips in during the interview. The interviewer will be impressed that you took the time to learn more about the company and its founders before coming in for the interview.

Learn as much as you possibly can about both the company you are being interviewed by and the position you are applying for. A huge amount of information is usually available on the company’s website that can arm you with invaluable background knowledge for the interview. In particular, have a thorough read of the company’s “About Us”, “Careers” and “Our Team” sections, if they are available. If they are a public company, annual reports are also a fantastic source of information.

Know Who You are Meeting

Always make sure you find out the full name and title of the people you will be meeting for the interview. Don’t be afraid to ask the recruitment department for this information prior to the interview as it only shows a keen interest in the company and the interview. Memorize these names and titles before your interview. Being able to start the interview off confidently is very important and mishearing your interviewer’s name is never a good start.

Brush up on your Skills

If you have a degree in a specific field it is essential to stay up to date on the subject matter. For example, if you specialize in computer programming, you'll want to be prepared to answer questions about code and computer languages. Some places will even make you write a sample program during the interview. In the job you are applying for, it is important that you are prepared to show off your knowledge of the field.

Have Some Examples Ready

Interviewers love using the behavioral interviewing technique. This technique consists of the interviewer asking you to provide actual examples from your life or previous experience that are relevant to the job. For example, if you are applying for a role that requires excellent customer service the interviewer will probably ask you to provide an example of a time when you have provided excellent customer service. Review the job requirements for the role as there are quite often big hints in there about the types of examples the interviewer will ask you to provide. Take the time to think about the sorts of examples you will be asked to provide and then practice describing those examples.

Bring your Resume to the Interview

The interviewer will most likely have a copy of your resume before you arrive, however, you may want to bring another copy with you. If you are interviewing for a teaching position within a school district, you will want to make sure to bring your teacher portfolio. Bring any other paperwork you think may be beneficial to the interview.

Practice for the Job Interview

Ask a friend, parent or mentor to sit down and ask you some practice interview questions. This will prepare you for answering questions on the spot. When the interviewer asks you questions, you need to think quick and come up with a good answer right away.

Role play the interview process with a friend or family member to get yourself comfortable with answering questions about your previous work experience, why you are right for this job, your strengths and weaknesses and so on. Ask your practice partner to tell you if you are speaking too fast or too slow. The more you practice talking about yourself, your work experience, why you want this job and why you are right for this job, the more confident you will sound in the interview. This is also a great way to control any pre-interview nerves.

Popular Job Interview Questions

  • “Why do you think you are a good candidate for this job?”
  • “In what ways would you be an asset to this company?”
  • “What are your career goals?”
  • “Describe success in your own words.”

Be on Time for the Interview

There is nothing worse than showing up late for a job interview. Make sure you show up on time and prepared. If you have changed your mind about attending the interview, then be sure to call in advance and cancel. Be professional and be ready to put your best foot forward so you put yourself in good standing for the position. Show up at least 10 minutes early to your interview to make a lasting impression.

How to Dress for the Interview

What to wear to a job interview

First impressions are key when you are interviewing for a job. You want to not only impress a potential employer with your education and experience, but you want to look your best as well.

Remember, your objective is to stand out from the crowd. A candidate is more likely to stand out if they appear mature and attentive, no matter how experienced they may be.

Proper Interview Attire

What you wear to the interview could possibly seal the deal on a job for you. You could be the most qualified candidate for a position, but if you are wearing something that is too revealing, too sloppy or simply unprofessional, you will be overlooked very quickly. The basics of dressing for an interview are to be conservative and professional.

What to Wear to a Job Interview:

  • Women should wear skirts that are at least knee length or longer. Be conservative. Try to stay away from really high heels and open-toed sandals.
  • Women should stay away from clothes that are too tight and/or revealing.
  • Men should wear a suit and tie. Shirts should be tucked in and every button should be fastened.
  • Make sure your clothes are ironed and free of wrinkles and stains.
  • Make sure your clothes match. Try to choose colors that are neutral such as navy blue, black, white, or tan. Stay away from bright colors such as pink and red and try not to wear anything with a print to them such as flowers, plaids, and checks.

Style Tips for the Job Interview

Hair - Your hair should be neat. If you are a woman, be sure to style your hair conservatively: a neat ponytail, bun or hair worn down neatly should suffice. Men should make certain that their hair is not overgrown and that they have shaved or trimmed their beard and mustache.

Makeup - Women should put on as little makeup as possible. Do not overdo it on the foundation and keep the eye shadow and eyeliner light and natural. Wear neutral tone lipstick and blush. You do not want to go into an interview looking like you are ready to take your glamour shots.

Perfume/Cologne - Men and women should choose light scents that are not overpowering. Apply as little as possible as you do not want the interviewer to smell your perfume or cologne before they even meet you. Men should keep the aftershave to a minimum as well.

Jewelry and Accessories - Remove any excess body piercings, such as a tongue ring, nose ring, or extra piercings in your ears. Tone the jewelry down to just one or two rings and maybe one bracelet. Men with pierced ears should remove their earrings. Women should choose nail polish that is light and conservative. Stay away from the black or orange nail polish. Go for a light pastel or clear color instead. Cover any obvious tattoos if necessary.

Briefcase - Carry a portfolio, folder or briefcase. This will make you look professional and prepared. Even if you just have a pad of paper and a pencil, you will look the part that you are applying for.

Mastering the job interview process isn’t as daunting as you might think. The most common mistake job seekers make is not preparing for the interview adequately. If you prepare yourself properly you can go into the interview with the confidence to earn yourself the job. Good luck!