How to Prepare for a Job Interview
A job interview is all about how you answer the questions… or is it? There’s evidence to suggest that a little more goes into it. Factors like body language, charisma, preparation, enthusiasm, prior experience, and grooming all go into choosing who is the best candidate for a job. So, just because you have an interview, it doesn’t guarantee you the job. Luckily, there are a few things you can do to stand-out as an attractive candidate.
Make Sure You’re Dressed Appropriately
This seems like common sense, but the horror stories I’ve heard would surprise you. From wearing glittery shoes to the shortest of skirts, there are definitely people out in the world who didn’t get the memo that professional dress is required at a job interview. Please don’t go into an interview trying to look hip and cool. Consider the employer and think about how they would like for you to present yourself. Typically, for men, that means wearing a suit or a business casual look with nice pants and a button-down shirt. For women, this could mean a pantsuit, a business suit, or a button-down shirt with a professional skirt, maybe some tights, and a conservative, neutral colored one to two inch high heeled shoe.
Research the Company AND Your Peers
Go into your initial interview prepared. Look into the history of the company, when it was founded, how it developed, what kind of business they do, and the specifics about the job you’re hoping to get. Definitely research who will be interviewing you if you have their name. Look up the other members of the company, particularly the leadership. Understand their skills and experience, where they went to school, and what they studied, and start finding any similarities you share. Use that knowledge to your advantage in the interview. Try to build a bond with your interviewer in a professional manner and show them you did your research and are passionate about the work you want to do.
Have a Long-Term Plan
Always have a backup if the job you want passes you up. You don’t want to invest all of your time and effort in just one shot at the type of job/career you want. If you do happen to be fortunate enough to obtain your first choice, have a detailed plan of where you’re starting and where you want to be. If that career progression is within the same company, even better. If there are other companies that you have in mind, think about the steps you have to take and what would benefit you long-term to get you where you want to go. When you have a plan, you’ll be amazed how much more motivation you’ll have to obtain your goals.
The best way to be prepared for an interview is to interview. Whether you’re practicing with friends, family, or career services at school, use the resources around you to get better at understanding how to sell yourself and what employers want. Buying some books on the subject from a second-hand store may be helpful. Perusing professional resources online is also a good idea. There are several free resources available for interested job-seekers.
Have Extra Copies of Your Updated Resume
Firstly, make sure you have an up-to-date resume. Don’t make the mistake of bringing an old resume or a resume riddled with temporary jobs that you left behind within a few months. Unless it is a seasonal job, make sure your resume consists of mostly long-term experiences you’ve had or prepare to be asked about it. You want to make sure that you look competent to your employer and be able to tie in what you’ve done with what you’ll be doing for them. Go into your interview with at least three additional copies of your resume in a nice, professional folder in case your employer needs a hard copy. I usually recommend using nice, quality 100% cotton paper in a white or off-white color for the best presentation.
Know Your Worth/Negotiate
Before you apply for a job, check out numbers for a fair salary in your state and region by looking online. If your proposed salary range ends up seeming a bit low, be prepared to negotiate. Let the employer know in a professional manner that you researched the average amount of pay for your profession and ask if they’d be willing to budge on the salary. They could say no, but they could also say yes. Take a risk. You have a lot to lose if you don’t.