Appearing for an interview can be nerve-wracking for freshers and experienced alike. According to a survey, 93% of Americans experience anxiety from a job interview. The job candidates get even more nervous when faced with an unexpected question in the interview.
But interviews need not always be so intimidating to you if the preparation is thorough. Preparation, practice, and the right strategy matter. We will break down the job interview process here in key steps which will guide you in your preparation for D-Day.
What is the objective of a job interview?
Before delving more into the topic, let us look at a job interview closely. The job interview refers to a conversation or, more explicitly, an interaction between the job applicant and the potential employer. During this process, the interviewers want to know the job applicant’s qualifications, relevant skills, prior experiences (if any), and emotional intelligence to sure they are qualified for the job.
Whereas on the other hand, the job applicant acquires expanded knowledge of company culture, work environment, nuanced details about the job position they are applying for, and the expectations of the employer from the potential new hire.
A job interview is a two-way street where on the one hand you must sell your skills to the employer, on the other hand, you have to make sure that the company and the position are the right fit for you. Let’s discuss the key interview tips.
How to Prepare For A Job Interview: Key Pointers
1. Thoroughly Research The Company
Browse the company’s website to read about its mission, vision, and core values. This might give you a sneak-peak into the company culture and work environment. And not just the company website, but make sure you’re also investigating various job portals to read reviews about the company and the position.
Apart from this, you can also look for relevant articles about the specific organization in periodicals or the industry trade journal. Another way you can gain some insights into the company is by contacting any current employee of the organization.
2. Research the Job Position
After researching the company, spend some time on the job position you’re applying for to see whether you’re a fit for the job. Read the Advertisement carefully to note the requirements and prepare for it accordingly.
Knowing the position’s responsibilities and expectations you will be better positioned to pitch your unique selling point. Wholesome research at the beginning will also help you to find out whether you should apply for the position in the first place. Job satisfaction is important. To avoid stressful situations and work at the company for significant time you need to be a great fit.
Make the job interview conversational. Evaluate if the position matches your expectations.
3. Know Your Interviewers
If you are not already informed of the details of the interviewers, please politely ask for them from the hiring manager. Research your interviewers (of course not being creepy!) to get an understanding of their expertise and hence the questions that you might face during the interview.
Use LinkedIn and other platforms depending on the field (for example Google Scholar for a Research Scientist position) to learn more about their expertise and experience.
4. How Will Be The Interview?
There are multiple ways and steps in which an interview is conducted. Have a conversation with your prospective employer about the hiring process and the type of interview. There is generally a phone interview followed by an extended video or on-site in-person interview. Some technology is also often a coding interview round in the beginning.
Be aware and well-prepared for any of the several interview rounds. Have access to a distraction-free location to attend your interview. Particularly in the event of the video interview, the room should be well-lit without any interruption.
Have prior knowledge of common interview questions and prepare accordingly for situational interview questions, behavioral interview questions, case studies, and technical interviews. The questions you may get will differ from the stage of the interview. Prepare all the common interview questions and answers.
5. Be Clear About What You Can Offer to The Employer
Another effective tip to ace the job interview is to identify the top skills you can offer to the employer. Presenting the employer with distinct and unique knowledge and experiences required for the job, which other candidates may lack, will set you apart from the crowd. In addition, read the job description thoroughly.
Identifying your skills and honing them right before the job interview will help you immensely. Moreover, you must also be prepared to convey these skills efficiently and persuasively to the employer while responding to interview questions.
Recent graduates often make a mistake while giving an interview in that they do not have enough clarity about what they want. Rather, you need to be intentional about your goals and what you are working towards. You should have a clear intention as well as a narrative for why you are applying for a certain job role in a company. Giving the job interview with an intentional purpose will help you to stand out from the rest of the applicants for the specific job role.
6. Bring Your Resume
The person conducting the interview probably has a copy of your CV, but bringing several hard copies to an in-person meeting demonstrates your readiness and earnestness as an applicant.
Furthermore, it’s a good idea to bring a notebook and a pencil to your interview to jot down notes. Staying organized with your stationaries looks professional and will assist you in formulating responses to the questions the interviewer may ask effectively during the conversation.
7. Tell Me About Yourself, Your Strengths, and your Weaknesses
‘Tell me about yourself’ is the first question likely to be asked. The question is meant to be an icebreaker and the employer wants to know if you fit the job. This question gives you the opportunity to briefly describe what are the key skills that make you a perfect fit for the position. Do not make the mistake of delving into providing unnecessary details to the interview.
Another two important questions are about your strengths and weaknesses. Though you may know how to sell your unique experiences fit for the position as your core strengths, candidates often fumble with the weakness question.
Do not give a generic reply when asked to answer your weaknesses question. Rather try to provide a thoughtful answer mentioning an area where there is room for betterment and what you have already done to improve yourself.
Questions may be also asked about your last job, your past experiences, and what you’ve done there. Never badmouth your last company and colleagues rather highlight the new skills that you learned in past jobs.
8. Be Prepared to Discuss Salary Expectations
Discussing and negotiating the salary will come up in the interview and job offer sooner or later. Do prior market research to find out the expected compensation range for the required position, skill set, and experience level.
When asked a question about salary always try to ask for a salary number or range from the employer before giving out your expected salary figure first. That leaves a lot of room for salary negotiation. Apart from the base salary numbers, be prepared to talk about other employee benefits like relocation payment, joining bonus, health, and retirement benefit.
9. Practice Mock Interviews
Every industry expert suggests that going through practice interviews before a real interview really helps a lot. It helps to build confidence, know what to say, how to articulate the responses, and how to present them. Practicing beforehand shall help you immensely in getting a job.
Definitely make a list of the common questions that are generally asked at an interview and have an answer jotted down. You can either practice in front of a mirror or with any one of your friends, family members, and mentor.
Though one word of caution here, do not try to memorize your answers rather try to come up with a framework that will help you to effectively respond to the interviewers.
Also, be prepared to answer any unexpected questions. Prepare a phrase or answer in case you need more time to think about the actual response, something like, ‘This is a good question. Can I use my notebook to brainstorm ideas?’.
10. Know The Industry Terminology
Knowing the industry terminology helps in an interview, particularly if there is a technical round to the interview process. The interviewers will definitely feel that you have subject matter expertise and are well-versed in the kind of work that is expected from the position.
While researching the company and the position advertised, try to find out what are the main products or services of the company and what experience is required for the position. See whether you already have firsthand experiences with the required expertise, if yes, then be well-versed with the fundamentals and popular concepts in the field.
Such as, you need to take your prior experience and translate this into your interview process and use the terms which are described in the job briefing, and then supplement them with fundamentals that you may have acquired in school or your current job. It will showcase you as a strong candidate with some effective knowledge of the base working and the role’s terminology.
11. Use the STAR Method to Answer Questions
STAR stands for situation, task, action, and response, and use this star method to tell answers to behavioral questions. Use this method to answer concisely using real-life examples,
Set the stage of your story by briefly describing the situation and context of the event followed by your role and task in that specific event. Spend less time in the first two segments defining the situation and task. Then thoroughly describe the actions you took to overcome the challenge and discuss some of the impactful strategies. In the results section discusses the impact of the outcome due to your action and what experiences you gathered from the event. Try to highlight stories that showcase you have great management skills and are a team player.
STAR stands for Situation, Task, Action, and Response. Use this method to successfully answer behavioral questions.
12. Anticipate Competition
You will not be the only candidate interviewing for the position. All kinds of jobs will come with competition, even entry-level jobs. Before going for the job interview process, you might face the fears and apprehension that other candidates might be better as well as more qualified than you.
But you need to get over these apprehensions and think about what makes you a great applicant or gives you more preference than the other candidates who are giving the job interview along with you for the same position.
You need to showcase to the employer you are different and a better fit. You bring the required skills and experience to the role, which the other candidates do not. When asked questions for a job interview regarding the competition, you should be well-prepared to give efficient answers.
13. Prepare Follow-up Questions for The Interviewer
A crucial aspect of preparing for job interviews involves not only providing smart replies and looking confident but also asking relevant and insightful questions to the employer. Make the interview conversational.
Ask questions to engage, show enthusiasm for the job, and prove that you are the best person for the job. And if the interviewer encourages you to ask any questions that you might have, be confident and discuss the questions that you are in your mind. Also, be prepared to discuss salary expectations.
14. Dress to Impress
As is always said, the first impression lasts long, and the first impression that the employer gets from you is your dress and presentation style. Hence, it becomes important for you to impress the interviewer at first glance.
Research what kind style of outfits the employees wear at that office. If the ambiance is not formal, you can go in business casual. If not sure always dress one step up so that you do not come across as unprofessional.
15. Be Presentable And Professional
Keep an eye on the details. Make sure that your attire is clean, steamed, and properly pressed. Get a little grooming, maybe a haircut or a manicure. These minute things matter and make you much more presentable and confident.
Speaking of confidence, maintain a good posture, use professional language, and speak clearly to impress your interviewers. Make eye contact with the employer or interviewer to communicate and focus effectively.
Do not perceive the interview process as an interrogation but rather perceive it as a conversation with the employer. You can have a conversation with the employer about your college degree, experience, things you have learned in college, etc.
16. Appear Enthusiastic
Another tip that every industry expert gives to easily land a prospective job is that you need to appear energetic and enthusiastic. Exude positivity in the job interview process. This is because when you show enthusiasm and energy while giving the interview, the employer will appreciate your eagerness and sincerity toward the position.
One note of caution here is that in pursuit of being enthusiastic do not come across overly persuasive or too casual. Maintain the correct demeanor and be professional.
17. Keep A Tab On Your Electronics
If your interview involves giving a presentation then be prepared with your data files, laptop, and necessary connectors. Many sure your devices are fully charged, and you have the necessary connectors for projecting your presentation. If it is a virtual interview from your home office then fully check all your web-conferencing tools.
If you are unsure of how the setup will be in the interview room, try to reach a couple of minutes and figure got all the technical details. You do not want these last-minute inconveniences to make you feel nervous. Also, keep your phone switched off or in do-not-disturb mode while interviewing.
18. Be On Time
Do not make the mistake of going to the job interview late. You should reach the office or location where the interview is scheduled on time or early.
Locate the exact interview venue and remain organized. Keep your electronics and stationaries in place so that you are ready and can immediately respond when your name is called for. Making the interview flow in a smooth manner without delay is also one of the effective ways to impress the employer. Being punctual also demonstrates a good work ethic.
19. Get A Good Night’s Sleep
I know preparing for a job interview is taxing and there are a lot of things to be taken care of. However, always remember to get adequate rest and sleep before the interview. If you are not well rested and feel energized, then you cannot concentrate on the interview and answer the questions thoughtfully. Relax and stay hydrated.
Getting anxious before any job interview is reasonable. There might be numerous apprehensions and fears going on in your mind about how the interview will go, how you can prepare, and how to be your best on the interview day. But the solution to ace the job interview lies in the correct strategy and thorough preparation. In this article, we did a detailed discussion on how to prepare for an upcoming job interview. Hopefully, this article will help you to prepare for the job interview effectively and thereby breeze the job interview. After the interview send a thank you note to the recruiter and interviewers.