One of the biggest parts of any job search is how you prepare for a job interview. Your stellar resume may have gotten your foot in the door, but you’ll need to win over your future employer in an interview before the job is officially yours.
To ensure that you are well-prepared for your interview, understanding the basics of what will happen during the interview, what questions you might be asked and the needs of the company you are interviewing with are crucial. Mastering the 23 objectives below will help you succeed on the day of your job interview and potentially secure your dream job.
1. Do your research.
Research the company, owners, potentially the interviewer if known. Scour their company website, LinkedIn pages, social media, and job site reviews to get a feel for the company. Do twice as much research as you think you need to. This will help you stand out to potential employers as someone who understands what they do and how they do it.
2. Connect with company contacts.
Ahead of your interview, reach out to any acquaintances who work for the company that you’re interviewing with. Examples could be people you have connected with on LinkedIn, met at networking events, or went to school with who might be able to provide insight into the company culture to help you better prepare for your job interview.
3. Study the job description.
You should walk into an interview prepared to address why you’re best suited for the position. Studying the job description will give you a feel for how to best tailor your response to the inevitable question of why you are the person to hire. You can also ask your recruiter questions about the job to make sure that you fully understand the position.
4. Inquire about the type of interview.
Knowing whether or not you will be in a panel interview, a one-on-one interview, a virtual interview or a technical interview can help you prepare. If you are unsure which type of interview you will have, you can reach out to your HR contact with this question.
5. Update your resume.
Understand who the target audience of your resume is, make sure your resume objective stands out, and that your resume is the right length. Consider reading the Ladders Resume Guide to ensure that your resume is in the best possible shape prior to your interview.
6. Check your reference list.
Make sure all of your references are up-to-date with current contact information, positions, and a description of your relationship to the reference. In a 2012 CareerBuilder survey, 80% of employers claim they contact references. Having your references listed correctly will ensure that your potential hiring manager can quickly and efficiently contact your references to hear all about how qualified you are for the position that you’re interviewing for.
7. Know your numbers.
Depending on your industry, you might be asked about your personal production numbers, sales goals you’ve hit or how long you have worked at certain places. Your numbers should be included on your resume, but knowing them off of the top of your head can help you prepare for your job interview so that you do not have to fumble through paperwork when asked to quantify your professional success.
8. Select your wardrobe.
If you are unsure of the office’s dress code, you can reach out to HR, but it is always a safe bet to wear business professional clothing such as a suit or dress to an interview. It is also worth noting that research shows that wearing black to a job interview is the way to go. Try your interview clothing on in its entirety including your shoes and any accessories. Make sure you’re as comfortable as possible, while still looking your absolute best.
9. Look your best.
An NVISION survey found that 95% of interviewers think that your appearance in an interview reflects your professionalism. If you want to make a memorable first impression, prepare for your job interview by making sure you are well-groomed, freshly showered, with clean nails and hair that is neat.
10. Prepare answers for potential interview questions.
Practice your answers to common interview questions out loud or with a friend to prepare for your job interview. Know what you will say in response to questions about why you are right for this role. Additionally, know how to handle weird behavioral interview questions by practicing how to pause or repeat the question back before answering as well as how to answer interview questions designed to trick you.
11. Know what not to do.
In a TopResume survey, 92% of employers polled said that committing one of 17 interview faux pas will put a candidate out of the running for a potential job. Lying, appearing disinterested and being unprepared for the interview were the top three items on the list. Also avoid doing things that make you seem inauthentic during an interview including being overly focused on salary or not understanding what the company actually does.
12. Practice your elevator pitch.
For when you are asked the inevitable “tell me about yourself” question in your job interview, prepare a brief statement about yourself that includes a summarization of your education, work history, why you are passionate about your work and relevant experience.
13. Prepare a list of questions about the company/position.
You can compile your questions to ask during the interview such as what previous hires found most challenging about the role as well as how the interviewer would describe the company culture. Print out a copy of your questions to bring with you so that you are less likely to forget what you would like to ask. Remember, the interview is as much about finding out
if you’re right for the job as it is knowing whether or not the job is right for you.
14. Print copies of resume and references.
Take at least five printed copies of your updated resume and references with you to your interview. Print these out ahead of time and put them in a folder when you are preparing for a job interview.
15. Study and practice interview etiquette.
Right out of the gate, you want to make a strong first impression at your job interview. You can prepare by practicing how you will greet the receptionist, how you will introduce yourself, and how you will conduct yourself throughout your job interview.
16. Have a phone plan.
Switch your phone completely off before you enter the building for your job interview so that you won’t be tempted to play on it while you are waiting for your interview to begin. If you really want to head off distraction, leaving your phone in the car or at home is another option, as research from the Journal of the Association for Consumer Research shows that just having your phone nearby can be distracting.
17. Know where you’re headed and how you’re getting there.
Prepare for your job interview by asking for the address to your interview, mapping the directions, accounting for travel time due to traffic, and booking transportation if necessary. You can do a practice run during the same time of day as your interview on the day before if you want to be extra prepared. Plan to arrive at least 15 minutes ahead of your interview, or
earlier if instructed.
18. Prep your bag or briefcase.
If you’re taking a bag or briefcase, clean out any trash or non-essential items so you don’t have to rifle through a mess to get to anything you might need during the interview. Be sure to include extra copies of your resume and reference list in a folder, breath mints, a stain stick, a notepad, pen, and bandaids. You never know when what you pack could come in handy on the day of your interview.
19. Get a good night’s rest.
One of the best ways to prepare for a job interview is to make sure that you are well-rested prior to the interview. A University of California Berkeley study found that a bad night’s sleep can increase your anxiety by up to 30%. Your mind will be clearer and your answers to questions will likely be sharper if you are not foggy from lack of sleep.
20. Eat something for breakfast.
Recent studies show that people who eat something savory for breakfast tend to make more money than people who eat sweets for breakfast, and alternatively that a bowl of cereal can help you concentrate and increase productivity. So, before you head to your interview, consider scrambling a couple of eggs or pouring yourself a bowl of cereal to get your day started off on the right foot.
21. Have stress relief tactics in mind.
Research from the Harvard Business School shows that most adults go about calming ourselves the wrong way, and should welcome the challenge of a pressure-filled situation to increase productivity. In case you get nervous, prepare a few stress relief tactics like deep breathing, meditating, or repeating mantras silently in your mind that you can do before or during the interview to keep yourself calm under pressure.
22. Work on practicing proven interview techniques.
This includes brushing up on how to have powerful conversations, how to create a personal connection through conversation and how to handle questions about your weaknesses.
23. Read the Ladders Interview Guide
For even more information on how to prepare for an interview.