When interviewing for a new position, we want to do everything possible to ensure it goes well. Breath mints? Check. Resumes? Check. Firm handshake? Check.
But a great job interview starts days before you ever arrive at the office. Follow these simple steps to prepare yourself to have your best job interview ever:
Research the company
Make sure you know as much as possible about the company before you go into any interview. Start with the company’s website and read their mission statement, goals, and values and think about how those apply to the position you’re applying for. What key words could you use during the interview that would resonate? Look at any news or press pages to see what’s news and noteworthy for the company recently, and use that information to form intelligent questions to ask. You can also check LinkedIn for any connections you may have within the company who might be able to put in a good word or advise you. Finally, you can usually get a feel for the company culture from their website, which can influence how you dress.
Research the job
Once you’ve got the interview, make absolutely sure you know everything you can about the position and what the job is all about. This kind of research can help you pinpoint places your skills and personality will set you apart from the crowd. Carefully reread the qualifications in the job listing and think about how your experience fits in. Understanding what the average salary range for the position is can help with that dreaded question, “What kind of salary are you looking for?”
Prepare answers that highlight your skills and experience
This question can have many forms, but being able to demonstrate with your answers and anecdotes that you understand the key skills, expertise and experience required for the job and that you possess them will go a very long way to a winning interview.
Prepare answers that show your enthusiasm and interest
Often, when recruiters are faced with choosing between equally qualified candidates, the candidate who exhibited the most enthusiasm and interest in the job will win out. A perfect way to do this is to think about how your personal goals and ambitions tie into the success of the company.
Prepare answers that show how you will fit in with the company culture
Because you did your research in step 1, you will understand something about the company culture and be able to demonstrate how you will fit in. For example, if you know the company has strong ties with charity or values of giving back, you could mention your own volunteer work during the interview. When you get asked seemingly random questions like, “If you were an animal, what kind of animal would you be?” think about your answer in terms of the kind of animal the company needs or wants.
Plan your journey so you arrive stress free and on time
The stress of unexpected traffic, getting lost, and other delays can derail an otherwise promising interview, so take steps to ensure that you don’t have to stress. Prepare your outfit the night before to look for rips, stains, the right shoes, etc. Print extra copies of your resume ahead of time. Research your route to the interview, and practice it if you have time to account for any map errors. Check the traffic early and have alternate routes in mind. And give yourself some extra time; even if you arrive early and end up sitting in your car or the lobby for a few minutes, you will be less stressed than if you arrive late.
It may seem like common sense, but taking the time to do your research, prepare your answers, and plan your journey will have a huge impact on how well you perform at your next interview.