First Interview 101: How to Prepare

So you have spent hours searching for open job positions, researching prospective employers, writing resumes and submitting applications in order to find that just right Goldilocks fit for the job of your dreams.  You’ve fielded several emails, compared schedules, maybe even taken a preliminary screening test or phone call.  All of this time, energy and effort have finally paid off and you’ve landed an interview.  

Congratulations for reaching this monumental milestone towards job-offer success.  When it comes to turning an interview into an offer, however, having a time, date and location is just the tip of the employment iceberg.  

During an interview, your potential employer will be using numerous techniques to get to know you and your qualifications in order to determine if you’re the right fit for the position.  Similarly, savvy candidates will be selling themselves and performing diligence of their own to confirm the potential job is everything it’s chalked up to be.  With all that in mind, here are a few tips, tricks, and pointers to help ensure you’re prepped and ready for your big interview day.

Do Your Research

While you may have thought you left the homework behind you with your gym shorts and frat parties, outside research comes in handy well beyond your school years.  Researching your job opportunity will help you be prepared on the day of the interview, boosting confidence levels in addition to helping you appear knowledgeable and experienced.  

For starters, review and re-review that job listing or description.  Pay special attention to individual character traits, certifications, skills or personal attributes the employer may be asking for.  If you’re feeling particularly productive, check out similar job listings from other companies for other traits that could be useful in the role.  Use this information to help sell your candidacy, putting special focus on your qualifications in these categories during the interview.

Research the original job posting, the person(s) interviewing you, the company and field.

Next, perform some basic research on the company you could end up working for.  Basic facts such as the number of offices, office locations and company and industry reach can all be great icebreakers or areas of query during your interview.  Having a firm grasp on company culture, motto’s or particular areas of social interest may also win you bonus points on interview day.

Another information area to delve into is names, roles, and backgrounds on your various interviewers.  Ask the recruiter, HR contact or another scheduling assistant for the names and roles of the individuals you’ll be meeting with on interview day.   Building a personal connection with an interviewer is a critical element to scoring a callback or job offer.  A quick Google search or a perusal of various professional networking websites can provide valuable insight into your contact’s background, experience, and areas of concentration.

Rehearse Your Lines

After you’ve researched your way into interview preparedness, it’s time for a dry run or two.  Using a mirror or trusted friend, conduct mock interviews with relevant questions and explanations of your qualifications as compared to the job listing.  If you have any employment gaps or obvious question areas on your resume, get your answers to these questions in the bag to avoid creating any red flags for your candidacy.

Having a rehearsal session can also help with the physical aspects of your interview.  Verbal pacing is critical to being understood during your interview.  Likewise, facial expressions and body posture can convey a great deal of information about a potential candidate.  Use a mirror, video or trusted friend in order to work out any bugs in these areas, prior to interview day.

Manage your image

Once you’re prepped and ready, it’s time to make sure your social image matches your in-person qualifications.  Spend some time fine-tuning your professional resume to ensure it’s up to date with the latest industry wording and trends.  Use this as a template to update your online, professional profiles in case potential employers look for additional or corroborating information or conduct their own pre-interview research of your candidacy.  

Another often overlooked detail is your various social media profiles and footprints.  Spend some time ensuring that your personal life is private.  Check your security settings so that your social photos and posts are available only to trusted friends and family.  Finally, whether public or not, consider removing any unsavory pictures or information that paints you as anything less than a qualified candidate.  It’s clear that you’ve outgrown your college, beer-chugging days, so be sure your social profile reflects that important fact.

Come with questions

Every job candidate knows that potential employers will be asking the all-important query “do you have any questions.”  If we haven’t stressed this point enough yet, the worse thing an interviewee can do is answer in the negative.

Before your interview, come up with a list of applicable and thoughtful questions that you can work into the routine on the big day.  Not only will this strategy keep the conversation flowing, you’ll gain more insight into the position to help confirm this is indeed a job you can see yourself filling.

Last Minute General Advice

A few final points on interview preparation 101.  The night before, be sure to get plenty of sleep and lay out your interview outfit in order to avoid rushing at the last minute.  Eat a good breakfast and avoid over-caffeinating to help keep the nervous jitters to a minimum.  Arrive 15-20 minutes early, shake everyone’s hands and be sure to get contact information for everyone you meet with.  You’ll need this for your thank you letters and emails which should be sent later that day or within 24 hours at the latest.  Follow our handy guidance to help set yourself up for interview-day success and increase your chances of landing that all-important callback or offer.

Article Updated from the Original on October 29, 2017