For those seeking a job, the prospect of an interview can be simultaneously thrilling and terrifying. Job interview skills are best acquired through preparation and practice. To get ready for an interview, job seekers must familiarize themselves with their potential employers and with their own backgrounds. They should practice answering common job interview questions and plan the logistics of the interview day in advance.
Research the Job
Interviewees need to research the industry, the organization, and the position itself. They may begin by researching current events and trends in their selected field and continue on to read about the organization specifically. Middlebury College’s career services website advises interviewees to “Learn as much as possible about the size, location, products/services, and benefits by reading everything you can.” Finally, job seekers must review the job description for their desired position.
In addition to internalizing the available information, job candidates should form a list of questions about the organization and the position. These questions should not be related to salary or benefits, nor should they be questions that are already answered in the organization’s literature. Instead, a candidate might inquire about the interviewer’s own perception of the strengths and challenges of the job, about professional development offerings, or about opportunities for advancement.
Review That Resumé
By researching the organization and the position, job candidates are better prepared to identify what experiences and character traits they wish to emphasize during the interview process. Although it is critical that candidates know every aspect of their resumés, interviewees should spend extra time reflecting on the most relevant aspects of their resumé. Thus, when the interviewer inevitably inquires about those experiences, interviewees can readily share in a way that emphasizes their qualifications for the job.
It is also important that candidates anticipate tough questions about aspects of their resumé that might concern an interviewer. This is particularly true for people who unemployed or who are changing fields. When job interviewing, it is important to be honest about personal weaknesses while remaining positive. Job seekers should make a discussion of flaws upbeat by emphasizing their motivation, ability to learn, and the opportunities for that learning in the interviewer’s organization.
Practice Answering Common Interview Questions
As discussed in a document published by Colby College’s Office of Career Services titled “Interview Preparation,” the interviewer’s goals are three-fold. The interviewer wants:
- to learn about the interviewee’s qualifications
- to verify the interviewee’s sincere interest in the job, field, and organization
- to see if the interviewee will “fit in” at work
Because interviewers have these common goals, certain interview questions have become quite commonplace. Virginia Tech’s Career Services Office has a website titled “Typical Interview Questions” that may prove helpful to job seekers. Job seekers should also prepare themselves to respond to illegal interview questions that may arise.
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When practicing the answers to these questions, it can be helpful to have a friend play the role of interviewer in order to best simulate the interviewing experience. Jobs seekers should know that how they respond can be just as important as what they say in an interviewer’s eyes. The interviewee must practice being concise, demonstrating a positive attitude, and showing confidence under pressure.
Plan the Logistics for the Day of the Interview
On the day of the interview, job candidates need to be prepared to get to the interview on time, to look the part, and to have the necessary materials. Candidates should develop their plan for getting to and from the interview in advance. They should plan to arrive fifteen minutes prior to the interview and optimistically anticipate that the interview will be lengthy. If the interview is in an unfamiliar location, it is advisable to leave extra time.
As for looking the part, how a job candidate should dress is somewhat determined by the job itself. It is advisable to dress a step above what the organization’s employees wear. If female employees wear dress slacks and a blouse, an interviewee might wear that ensemble and top it with a nice dress jacket. This dress rule applies for male candidates as well. Clothes for the interview should be clean, pressed, and readily accessible the morning of the interview.
Finally, candidates should pre-prepare a portfolio with some necessary items. This includes extra copies of their resumé for interviewers as well as copies of the job description, directions, and communication with the employer for the interviewee. A notepad and a pen may also prove useful.
Preparation is the Key to a Successful Interview
Professionals offering job interview tips agree that solid preparation is critical to conducting a successful job interview. Interviewees should research the job, review their own background, practice answering questions, and map out the logistics of the interview day in advance. By doing so, job candidates set themselves up for a positive interview and a job offer.