The interview process is worth your preparation, and you owe it to yourself to be your best at every stage, especially the beginning.
Imagine this: It’s a brisk 8 AM, and you have a job interview in the next 15 minutes. Are you feeling a little tense, anxious, or nervous? Maybe if you took more time to prepare, you could take care of that hard wrinkle in your shirt or fix that typo on your resume.
Now let’s imagine this instead: It’s that same brisk morning, and your awaited job interview is right around the corner, but you put in the time. You look professional yet feel comfortable, and you’ve got your portfolio at the ready.
Preparation for a job interview is more than showing up on time and looking your best, it’s making sure that you’ve done everything you can to leave a great, long-lasting first impression.
With that said, there are tiers of preparation based upon your goals for the job interview and how much you know about what’s to come. Don’t worry, we’ll walk you through it.
Thankfully the essential prep can be done no matter the type of interview. This includes the basic set of information you must gather before an interview that can help you prepare. The “what, when, and where” of a job interview includes:
Job position- The whole reason you have this upcoming interview is that you’ve applied for a position. Make sure you know the job description, qualifications, and type of professional the company is looking for, and that your resume is updated and reflects those needs.
Date & time- There’s nothing worse than showing up late to an expected meeting, especially one with your potential future boss. Confirm the time and date and be punctual.
Location- An interview can be held in a conference room, by video, or by phone. Always ask the interviewer or your recruiter where the meeting will take place. In fact, don’t be afraid to suggest a place or method if that’s more comfortable for you.
This second tier of information needed to prepare for a job interview is all about “who” you’ll be interviewing with and the first impression you’ll be leaving them with.
Having some background information on the company you’re interviewing for can demonstrate your interest in their growth and success. More importantly, you can impress potential employers with information or ideas on how you personally could bring or make big changes to their business.
Doing some brief research on their mission and culture may even provide you with your own interview questions to be answered. Ask questions that will make you feel confident you’re making the best decision if you get a job offer and choose to accept.
A resume is a good start as far as interview prep goes, but go the extra mile and bring a list of references, your portfolio, and a notebook for questions or feedback. A bottle of water or a mint may also come in handy for comfort.
Consider your physical presentation beforehand. Don’t debut a new hairstyle or outfit for your job interview without testing it out first. Prepping an outfit and overall look ahead of time will reduce the stress associated with rushing or getting ready at the last minute. It may even be beneficial to have an outfit on standby just in case there’s a stain you missed or an uncooperative crease.
Make a first impression where you’re at your most comfortable, but without lacking professionalism.
This tier of information focuses on the types of interviewing companies use. There are so many different ways to interview, not to mention many types of interviewing out there. Don’t hesitate to ask what style or type of interview you’ll be having because preparation may differ depending on the response.
First things first, stay hydrated, open-minded, and ready to face anything! There are some similarities in preparing for an in-person interview rather than a phone or video interview. For instance, a spotty internet connection may not affect an in-person interview. Still, distracting surroundings or really any interference at all can throw a wrench in the mix of a successful interview. Regardless of the interviewing method, make sure you’re well prepared for every situation.
– Stay charged (technology or otherwise)
– Check internet stability and be prepared for potential lag or crashes
– Silence other devices and acknowledge your surroundings
Start by knowing who your interviewers are, and be ready in case there is more than one. You don’t have to know all of the company’s playmakers by heart, but it’ll do you good to know some names at the top, especially if they’re the ones who are interviewing you.
The interview environment or setting can affect your communication style, and may even offer space to display teamwork, empathy, and drive. For example, in a more formal setting, such as a one-on-one job interview, you can take the time to go over your experience and accomplishments because you have the interviewer’s entire focus. In a less formal setting, such as in a group, you may need to manage when to engage and interact to avoid being overshadowed by others.
The greatest fear when it comes to interviews is not knowing what’ll be asked. Now, there may be a list of commonly asked interview questions and maybe even answers you can plug in, but these are never a guarantee. There may even be interviews where questions are less about your experience and work history but are more open-ended and guide the interview more like a dialogue rather than an exam.
Though you may not know or get to choose the interview format or every step of the process, being able to recognize the different styles and methods may help you relax and approach your job interview more thoughtfully. If you are working with a recruiter, they may be able to ask in advance which type of interview you’ll be having or coach you to manage all types.
Take a deep breath, you got this! If you want to learn more about interview etiquette check out Jerry Beech’s episode of The Howl!
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