It’s been a few days since the job posting you applied to closed, and an email comes into your inbox: “We’d like to schedule an interview to get to know you and discuss the position further.”
There’s the initial feeling of success — you made it past Phase 1. But then, you have to get into the interview mindset. And with just a few days until the interview, using time effectively and efficiently is of high importance.
There are several ways you can prepare for your interview and make sure you are feeling confident and comfortable with whatever an interviewer may throw your way.
Write down not only responses but concrete examples of previous experiences when examples are necessary:
ANSWER COMMON INTERVIEW QUESTIONS
A great place to start in the interview preparation process is considering how you would answer some standard interview questions. Look up lists online of the most common questions an interviewer asks.
Don’t worry about answering every single question you will find out there, but look to answer the ones that come up the most often. Here are some examples:
- Why do you want to work for us?
- Why should we hire you?
- Can you tell us a bit about yourself?
- What is your greatest strength, or weakness?
- What type of work environment do you prefer?
- Tell us about a time you demonstrated leadership skills?
- Can you tell me about a time you faced conflict/a difficult situation in the workplace, and how you resolved it?
- How do you manage your time efficiently?
- How do you like to be managed?
- Where do you see yourself in 5 or 10 years?
CONSIDER THE JOB DESCRIPTION KEYWORDS
Now that you’ve thought on the common questions that come up in interviews, and are in the interview mindset, take a look through the job description and pick out those keywords (maybe you already did this when tailoring your resume to the role — so find that list again!).
Consider how an interviewer could ask questions that relate to that keyword, and take some time to think about how you would answer them.
For example, if “communication” is one of the primary keywords you found in the job description, and you are interviewing for a role in marketing or communications, a question could look something like “how would you simplify a complex topic in order to communicate it to clients?”, “describe a time when you had to present sensitive or contentious information, and what was the outcome?”, or simply, “describe your communication skills”.
MATCH YOURSELF TO THE JOB QUALIFICATIONS
Now, take a look through the list of job requirements. Some of them are likely related to specific training or certifications you need, but others are likely traits or certain experiences they are looking for in a candidate. Think of example that show you meet those needs.
For example, if the job requirement is something like “experience with Web Content Management Systems, particularly WordPress,” note down firm examples if you have experience with WordPress: when, where and some accomplishments with the platform.
LEARN ABOUT THE COMPANY
Find out about the company you are applying to. Our recent blog post gives you insight into what you might need to know. Take down notes, and read through them until you feel relatively comfortable speaking to them if you were asked.
Now that you’ve considered what a company might ask, and have taken notes on how you would both respond to and exemplify your qualifications, it’s time to practice!
PRACTICE WITH YOUR FAMILY & FRIENDS
Ask a trusted, constructive friend or family member to sit down with you and do a mock interview. Have them ask you questions from all of the above categories, and practice your answers.
Ask for feedback not only on your questions responses, but on your overall body language and presence. Did you come across professional and confident? Were you fidgeting in a certain way? Did a certain question really stump you, or did an answer not make sense?
Keep practicing until you feel you are prepared!
RECORD YOURSELF PRACTICING YOUR INTERVIEW
For those who may not be comfortable practicing in front of someone right away, record yourself answering questions and take a look at your body language and the fluidity of responses.
- When taking notes on answers to interview questions, try not to write out full sentences. Keep your notes short and sweet, so you are reflecting rather than memorizing. This will help you respond confidently in the interview, while not seeming rehearsed.
- When practicing with friends and family, try to set up a setting that mimics an interview. Sit at a table across from your “interviewee,” take the notes with you that you intend to use in the interview, and keep the space clear of distractions.
- When practicing with friends and family, choose someone who will be honest with you.
~ written by Lucy Fox
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