A company can receive hundreds of resumes for each job opening it posts. If you’re one of the lucky few that land an interview, you’ll have to convince the hiring managers that you’re the best candidate for the job. Impressing prospective employers requires more than a firm handshake and a professional appearance. If you want an interview to end in a job offer, you need to go in prepared.
These are the tips every candidate should follow when preparing for a job interview.
Research the Company’s Work
An informed candidate is always more attractive than an ill-prepared one. Do your homework and research the company before the interview. Visit their website to learn about the full scope of the company’s work, not just the position you’re applying for. In addition to the company website, press releases, social media pages, and industry contacts are valuable sources of information about a company’s work and reputation.
Don’t limit your research to what the company is doing today. Learn about projects that are underway and read industry news to understand where the company is headed.
Research the Company’s Culture
Skills only get you so far. Fitting in with a company’s culture is equally important to your success in a job. You can’t get the full picture of a company’s culture before working there, but certain clues can tip you off. Glassdoor reviews, social media pages, and customer reviews are good sources of information about a company’s culture, but the best is the office environment. Show up a few minutes early to the interview and pay attention to how employees interact with each other.
Read the Job Description
It can take a couple of weeks to hear back after applying for a job. You’re likely to forget the ins and outs of the job description during that time, so read the posting again to refresh your memory. (It’s a good idea to screenshot job postings when applying in case they’re removed before the interview.) Take note of important qualifications and responsibilities; you’ll need to demonstrate that you match them in the interview.
Practice Interview Questions
Even with diligent research, nerves can affect your performance during the interview. Rehearsing interview questions in advance calms interview jitters so you can answer questions clearly and confidently. Think about how you’ll answer common questions, and brainstorm industry-specific questions you might be asked. It’s also wise to come up with a few questions of your own. Asking good questions shows hiring managers you’ve thought seriously about your role in their company. It’s smart to have a general idea of how you’ll answer interview questions, but avoid over-rehearsing. Your answers should feel natural, not scripted.
Gather Interview Materials
It’s good practice to bring resume copies to your interview. Forbes recommends four or five copies, but if you know how many people are on the interview panel, bring that number plus one or two extra. Include a portfolio or work samples if your industry calls for it. In addition to resume copies and a portfolio, bring a list of references and a notepad and pen. You can bring a bottle of water, but don’t carry in your coffee or lunch.
Finally, get some rest! You want to be at your best during a job interview. While it’s tempting to let your nerves get the best of you and stay up all night preparing, you’ll perform best if you’re well-rested and refreshed when you walk into your interview.