Preparing Yourself For Job Interview Success

So you’ve got a degree and maybe a bit of job history under your belt.  Maybe you took our helpful hints to heart and even worked up a stellar resume to effectively communicate all the reasons a prospective employer needs you in their workforce.  You send your CV off into the world via applications, recruiting websites and even job search boards. After a short wait, success. You’ve scored an interview which means someone loved your resume and background and thought you’d make a great fit.  Now all that’s left is to sit back on your laurels and collect a paycheck, right?

Not so fast!  Job-seekers should realize that for every open position there may be dozens or even hundreds of viable resumes.  Many employers have a policy against bringing in only one person for any given job. Your interview, therefore, is only the most preliminary first step into actually making it into the boardroom.  Success during the interview stage and preparation go hand in hand. Lucky for you and your job prospects, we’ve put together this handy guide for preparing yourself for job interview success.

The Importance of Research Before the Interview

Before they walk into the interview room, successful candidates will have spent an equivalent of a full workday or more researching both the company and individual job title.  This step isn’t about getting the “right” answers to the interview questions but is more about making sure your word choice and expectations are in line with your potential employers.  Also its respectful to be able to answer “why do you want to work here” with something more than “for the paycheck.”

What Information Should You Look For?

Your pre-interview research will fall into several fact “buckets.”  First, you’ll want to understand the company you’ll potentially be committed to for the next 3-5 years or longer.  The first and best place to do this kind of high level investigating is the company’s own website. How a business portrays themselves to potential customers and the outside world says a great deal about the ideals and image you’ll be expected to promote while there.

On the company’s website, look for facts such as the mission statement, any description of the hiring process and special give back initiatives to the community.  If there are any facts that could be further clarified or that generally excite you, be sure to jot those down for potential questions topics during that stage of your interview.

Next, you’ll want to spend some time getting to know the industry and delving into your particular job title.  For the industry, a quick Google search should give you an idea of major competitors in the space and how they might differ from the company you’re interested in.  Is this a competitive industry? Is your employer a larger player or a smaller establishment. Each of these facts can help you understand the overall trajectory of the business to help set the tone for the interview room in addition to ensuring that the company really is one who you’d like to work for.

Last but not least, research the job title that you’ll be applying for.  This will start first and foremost with the specific job listing. Next, search out open similar jobs on websites such as SimplyHired.  Compare qualifications, specific skills asked for and levels of management or supervision. This will give you a good understanding of where to potentially grow your position.  Check out LinkedIn or other social networking sites for anyone in your extended circles who may be a great resource to mine for details on the day to day responsibilities of the position.  Finally, use salary estimator tools to help ensure the expected compensation is in line or above industry standards.

Incorporating Research into Your Interview

Make use of the information you have acquired by asking intelligent questions about the organization and job role. You can also show interviewers that you have done your research by pointing out some of the company’s projects that have interested you. The information you acquire should be used to tailor your answers, ensuring that everything relates back to how your skills and expertise will benefit the company.

There are also a few ways you definitely should NOT use the information you’ve gathered during the research phase of your interview preparations.  Artificial compliments or forced conversations about recent deals or business moves can often come off as false or pandering. Additionally, embarrassing news or failed performance in recent quarters may sting a bit when brought up in conversation.  Avoid these topics and let the conversation during your interview flow naturally for the best shot at scoring a callback or offer.

Anticipate Different Types of Interviews

Another aspect of your pre-interview research should involve preparation for numerous interview formats.  We’re probably all familiar with the traditional one on one where two parties are seated across the table.  While this is the prevailing norm, many employers might throw a wrench in the works with other formats. Below are a few variations to watch for and ideas on how to prep.

  • Behavioral interviews: While this type of Q&A has tended to fall by the wayside over the last several years, the behavior interview is still alive and well at some modern companies.  In this type of dialog, the interviewer will ask you a series of “how would you handle this” type of questions. Preparing for these is simple and straightforward if you picture yourself already in the role.  Also, attempt to draw from past experiences for guidance in answering and work in examples to come off as ready for any possibility.
  • Structured Interviews:  Another relatively rare interview format but one still used in technical fields, the structured interview will often involve an assessment of your skills and knowledge typically via a written quiz or test.  If your interview will require such a test it will often be communicated in the job description or application instructions. Your knowledge in your field will be the best preparation for this type of interview.  If you’re caught unawares, don’t fret. Keeping cool and calm with help reduce nerves and increase performance.
  • Multi-Person Interviews:  Another common interview type you should prepare for ahead of time is the multi-person interview format.  With a priority put on time savings, nowadays employers will combine two or more interviewers into one timeslot in order to allow the maximum number of people to meet with the candidate during their office visit.  Remember to split your attention as equally as possible across all interviewers and make eye contact with each person in the room. As a final note, be sure to send a thank you to everyone you met with, not just the most senior employee.

Closing Points on Interview Prep

Preparing for your interview isn’t all mental walkthroughs, research and studying.  A good portion of your success will also come from the mental and physical preparation you do the night or days before.  Get a good night’s rest, keep your regular routines, eat a sensible breakfast and give yourself plenty of time to get to the interview location.  All of these actions will help your mental clarity in case you’re thrown a curveball come interview day.

Follow our easy guidance on preparing for interview success and you’ll be one step closer to that job offer or new career path of your dreams.

Article Updated from the Original on May 13, 2018