Written by Sofi Sommer
Whether you have been in the workforce for years or are a new graduate looking for your first full-time job, the job interviewing process is always nerve-wracking and overwhelming. While there are a number of best practices to keep in mind during the interview itself, the pre-interview preparation is an underrated but invaluable step to ensure that you feel prepared and confident before ever walking through the company doors. Below, we have curated a complete guide to the interviewing preparation process designed to help you nail your next interview.
1. Interview Research
The first step of interview prep always starts with research. It is critical before every interview to have a clear understanding of the company and the specifics of the job you are applying for. You want to be familiar with the company values/mission and have an idea of the company culture so that you can effectively articulate why you can see yourself being a good fit for them. Furthermore, you want to look up the interviewers. Connect with them on LinkedIn and/or read over their profile on the company website. Bottom line is that you want to look for a commonality or something you can ask them that will start up a conversation and establish a more personal connection.
2. Curate Questions
Questions are one of the most important things you can engage in during an interview. It allows the interview to feel more like a natural conversation as opposed to a one-sided interrogation. Before the interview, write down a list of questions that show you have intentionally considered both the position and the company. Some examples include the following: what the company culture is like, how the training process is set up, what the interviewers’ favorite part of working there is, etc. Regardless of what you ask, questions show that you truly care.
Inversely, not asking questions is an automatic red flag for interviewers. If the conversation is one-sided, they will have a sense that you are not someone who takes initiative. Furthermore, they will perceive you as a person that has not truly considered the position or how your specific skillsets would add value to the company. You will appear sloppy and unprepared. So, make sure you have your questions prepped and ready!
3. Think of Stories
Every interview will have a moment where the interviewer asks you questions about your experience and how you handle certain difficult situations. In doing so, they want to make sure that you are not only qualified but also able to stand strong in the face of conflict and problem-solve when difficulties arise. Because this is such a critical selling point in the interview, you want to be ready. So, think of your story. Think of several different situations you have been in that showcase your strength and ability to overcome. Write it down so that you can narrow it down to be as concise and clear as possible. You want to be confident when telling these stories, and thinking of them ahead of time will help you be more at ease during the interview itself.
4. Mock Interview
Now it is time to put your preparation into practice. If you want to feel extra prepared, have one of your friends conduct a mock interview with you. Practice articulating the stories you have prepared and look for opportunities to ask questions back. Have your friend ask questions you have not prepared for so that you can get your brain working and practice thinking on your feet so that you are not taken by surprise in the real interview. This will provide a helpful dress rehearsal to help you work out the kinks before walking through the doors.
You have familiarized yourself with the company, prepped questions, and reviewed and practiced telling your story. Now, the only thing left to do is breathe. You have done everything you can to prepare, so be proud of yourself that you have already gone above and beyond. Rest in the confidence that you are ready and no matter what happens, everything will be ok. If you don’t get this job, there is a better one out there for you. And, every interview you do, whether successful or not, will better prepare you and make you more confident for the next.