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You put your resume out there and landed an interview! Congratulations – you’ve made it through half the battle. How you prepare leading up to your interview will affect the first impression you make with your potential employer. To make sure you nail your interview, check out these tips.
Do your research
In today’s technology-driven world there are many ways you can research an organization online and do some work in advance. As soon as you receive confirmation of your interview, start your Google search. Browse the company website to learn about its mission, values, and culture. Read about the executive management team and learn about how the company got its start.
Don’t be surprised if the interviewer asks you why you want to work for the company or what attracted you to the position. These types of questions are an opportunity to show the interviewer that you’ve done your research and you believe you will be a great fit for the company’s culture. Then, if you are given an opportunity to ask questions, you can highlight your interest in the company by asking follow-up questions about the information you learned online.
Research is not just limited to the organization’s website. It’s also a good idea to check out their social media pages such as LinkedIn, Facebook, and Instagram, and you can take a look at their Glassdoor page as well. If possible, you can also learn about the company by talking to people you know who have worked there. The more information you can learn before your interview, the better.
Prepare before your interview
Review the job description before your interview and make a list of your skills and your professional and personal qualities; be prepared to discuss how you match the desired qualifications for the position. Be ready to answer any questions that are likely to arise from your resume, such as discussing your work history, explaining any gaps in employment, and describing trainings, certifications, and other listed accomplishments. It’s a good idea to print a copy of your resume before your interview, both for your own reference in preparation for the interview and to bring to the interview itself. If you bring extra copies of your resume to the interview, you can pass them out to all the interviewers.
If you are scheduled for a virtual interview, make sure you have a strong internet connection. You will also want to sign-in to or download the application, such as Zoom, Google Meetings, or Skype, through which your meeting will be taking place. Do a test run in advance to make sure that your internet connection is sufficient and you have no issues accessing and using the virtual platform being used.
This might seem obvious, but always make sure you’re interviewing in a quiet place, without any background noise or distractions. Make sure your video camera is set up in an area with good lighting and where you can sit comfortably for at least an hour. Remove anything unprofessional or distracting that could be seen in the background of your interview.
Think through common interview questions
The STAR interview method is a technique that offers a straightforward process you can use to answer behavioral interview questions. These questions are easy to recognize as they have tell-tale openings like:
-Tell me about a time when…
-Give me an example of…
-Describe a time when…
To best prepare for STAR formatted questions it is a good idea to have a few examples and stories in mind that you can tweak for each answer. Think about stories that highlight the attributes that make you a good fit for the job so you can look for opportunities to present your personal experiences in the most favorable light you can.
Don’t forget to prepare for obvious interview questions too, such as “what is your greatest weakness?” To answer this question, you can be honest but reference something that doesn’t directly relate to the position you’re applying for. You should also be prepared for how you are working on improving any areas of weakness, or how you have found ways to work around weaknesses. For example, if you’re applying for an accounting position, you won’t want to say “I struggle in Excel.” Instead, find an example that won’t affect your job performance, such as “I struggle a bit with impatience, because I like things to happen quickly. But I’m aware of this and am working to become more patient.”
Check out this list of common interview questions and answers to use as a guide to prepare before your interview.
Finish the interview strong
Most interviewers will leave time for you to ask your own questions. Prepare 2-3 questions in case you have the opportunity at the end of your interview. These questions should be company specific, role specific, or wrap-up questions based on your conversation. You won’t want to ask questions that are too obvious, or will only require a “yes” or “no” answer. Examples of good follow up questions could include:
-How would you describe the company’s culture?
-What qualities make for a successful employee at this company?
-Who will I be working with in this position?
-What are the most important qualities for the person in this role?
-What is your timeline and what are the next steps?
-I read … on your company’s website- could you go into more detail about that?
After your interview has finished, you’re not off the hook just yet! The final step in the interview process is to send a thank you email to everyone who interviewed you. Writing a good thank you email can show your appreciation for the interviewer taking the time to connect with you and also reiterate why you’d be a great fit for the job. If you’re not sure where to start with the thank you email, there are many great online templates you can reference as an example.
Don’t forget to smile, make eye contact, and be yourself, and you’ll be sure to have a successful interview experience!
March 15, 2021