Preparing for the Job Interview

So, you’ve landed the coveted interview. Congratulations! Your resume and cover letter did the trick, and now you’re one step closer to getting the job. Like all steps in the job search process, you need to put your best foot forward, so it’s time to prepare for the big meeting.

To the Web We Go
Alas, it never ceases to amaze me how much information is available on the Internet. Typing “interview advice” into a Google search yields about 405,000,000 results. But what if the 404,999,999th web page has the best advice? Don’t worry. Most of the articles on job interviews I found rehash the same advice over and over again. It’s almost like a lesson in counting:

All kidding aside, there is actually good advice on the Internet for preparing for, and succeeding in, a job interview. Check out our previous blog post The Informed Interviewee or’s great list of articles on interview tips that cover a wide range of topics. The contributing authors do an excellent job of interviewing career specialists and hiring managers to glean useful advice and insight. Peruse the list to see what works for you.

My Advice in a Nutshell
I’ve been an interviewer and interviewee several times in my career. For those of you who are new to the job search, here are some basics for preparing for the interview:

  • Do your homework. Learn more about the company, and review the job announcement prior to the interview. Then bring a set of questions for the hiring manager about the company and the job. You will inevitably be asked, “Do you have any questions for us?”
  • Think of examples. After reviewing the job announcement, brainstorm past experiences that tie your skills to the job requirements. You don’t want to draw a blank to questions about past experiences or leave the interview thinking, “How did I forget to mention that?!”
  • Practice your interview. If you’re nervous, do a practice interview with a friend so you’ve had a chance to address common interview questions before you’re in the hot seat.
  • Show up early. Don’t arrive at the scheduled time or late (gasp!). But don’t get there too early, either. Arrive about 15 minutes before your interview.
  • Dress appropriately. This depends on your industry and the company. If you’re unsure about what to wear, err on the side of being overdressed.
  • Bring copies of your resume and references. You may also want to bring a portfolio of prior work and a pen and paper for notes. Also, consider bringing something to leave behind that conveys your skills and personality, such as mini-portfolios for each interviewer either as hard copies or on USB drives. Be creative so you stand out from the crowd. Check out this article for additional tips on what to bring.

Once you’re there, you need to be both personable and professional. You want the interviewers to know that you’re a team player and a perfect fit for the job. Remember, people don’t want to work with someone they don’t like, so pay attention to your non-verbal cues and avoid some of these red flags.

A Little Humor
Speaking of red flags, if you’ve got the interview jitters, take a minute to read some of these funny stories of real-life interview blunders or watch these videos from the Robert Half series Don’t Let This Happen To You. If you prepare, you won’t do as bad as these folks. Trust me.

Do you have any tips for preparing for an interview or a great story to share? Post a comment below.

As always, good luck on the job hunt!

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