Your resume might have gotten you through the initial application screening, but the interview is all about real-time responses and personality, and you need to be prepared. Luckily, we’ve got everything you need to learn how to prepare for an interview below.
From researching the company to sending out thank you notes afterward, keep reading to learn how to best prepare for an interview and secure the job.
Read and Analyze the Job Description
No matter the job you secure an interview for, the recruiter or hiring manager wants to see if you are the best fit for the specific role they wish to fill. The only way to meet their expectations and gauge whether or not the job is right for you is to read and analyze the job description.
The job description will outline expectations and daily duties for the position. Reading and understanding all that’s required of the role will help you better prepare for potential questions.
For example, if a job description requires you to communicate frequently with another team, you can prepare for possible questions about yourself by hinting toward that capability. You can say you’re a team player, throw in an example of how you worked well with another team from a previous position, and so forth and so on.
Research The Company
Nothing tells an interviewer that you’re prepared, like coming to an interview with a complete understanding of the company. Mentioning company-specific attributes during an interview lets an interviewer know that you are not only prepared but want to work for that specific company.
Similarly, researching will help you avoid referencing anything that the company does not stand for or support. For example, if you have an interview with Netflix, you’ll know not to reference any other streaming platform shows.
Practice your interview and prepared responses beforehand so that you don’t come across as panicked in the moment or ill-prepared. Practice interviewing also includes dressing up and implementing the correct interview etiquette.
Selecting Your Clothes
Preparing an outfit before your interview may not seem like a big deal, but you need to dress to impress if you want to succeed during your interview.
You’ll want to dress professionally to show the interviewers that you’re serious about the position. You should also avoid any loud prints or colors that might distract from your words. It would be best to keep your outfit sleek, clean, professional, and straightforward.
Prepare Interview Etiquette
Whether you need to learn how to prepare for an internal review or a completely new job, follow the ideas below to show interviewers that you’re not only prepared but confident and interested too:
- Firm handshakes
- Eye contact
- Being attentive
- Be an active listener
- Body language
- Speak with enthusiasm
Prepare What You’ll Bring to the Interview
Don't show up empty-handed to your interview. Instead, make sure you bring these items along to enhance your professional appearance, take notes, and present if prompted:
- Pen and paper
- Copies of your resume
- Prepared questions
- ID, interviewer details, interviewer address
- Professional bag
Prepare for Common Interview Questions
While some companies will throw out some unique questions, all companies typically have the same five core questions to ask candidates as well. Here’s a list of the top five standardized interview questions you can prepare for to understand how to best prepare for an interview:
Tell Us About Yourself
The generic “tell us about yourself” question is extremely broad but gives you the floor to talk about what best qualifies you for the job. It is not the time to talk about your favorite color or childhood memory. Instead, keep it short, sweet, and informative.
- Tailor your response to the specific position.
- Think of this as an elevator pitch.
- Do not read from your resume.
- Add an anecdote.
- Know your audience.
- Practice, but don’t memorize.
Why Do You Want to Work for [Company]?
This question presents the best time for you to combine your company and job description research professionally and impressively. Keep it short, but tailor the response to the specific company and role to show the interviewer that you are interested in their job opening specifically.
- Research the company beforehand.
- Mention relevant company information, such as a recent development in the news or the company’s values.
- Relate it to what you’re looking for in a company.
- Explain why you and the company align professionally.
Why Are You Looking for a New Job?
As accurate as it may be, never say you’re looking for a new job because of money. Instead, keep your response professional and polite.
- Explain how the job role drew you in.
- How the position relates to your experience and goals.
- Politely state what wasn’t working in your last role and how it relates to the new position (ex. You’re passionate about charity work, but your previous company didn’t have philanthropic initiatives, and this position does).
- Never speak negatively about a past working experience; it reflects poorly on you.
- State how you think you’ll make an irreplaceable impact.
Tell Us About a Conflict You Faced and How You Dealt with It
Don’t be afraid to use a non-work-related scenario for this question. Interviewers are trying to gauge your ability to handle problems, and using problems from your everyday life might work better than trying to force a fake work-problem scenario. Think of these questions in three steps:
- What’s the problem?
- How did you approach it?
- What was the result?
Where Do You See Yourself in Five Years?
Never give a short, curt answer like “I’ll be the CEO of a Fortune 500 company.” Instead, practice:
- Relating your future goals with the position’s potential.
- Mentioning benefits from the position that will help you find success in the future.
- Show that you’re ambitious.
Interested in more practice questions? We put together a larger guide outlining 20 common questions asked during interviews.
Plan for Travel in Advance
On-time is late. It would be best to arrive at least 15-minutes early for your interview as a professional courtesy and downtime beforehand.
Arriving early also means factoring travel distances and times into your departure. If it takes you an hour to get to the office, make sure you leave your home at least an hour and a half before.
Prepare Questions and Follow up with a Thank You Note
Even if you think you don’t have any questions, prepare some anyway. Asking questions at the end of an interview makes you come off as interested because you’re eager to learn more about the possibility of working with the company. However, you should make sure that the questions you ask are appropriate and contain the substance.
Once you’ve completed the interview and asked all of your questions, thank the interviews. Make sure you also send out a thank you note within 24-hours. Thank you notes add a personal touch that hiring managers appreciate, especially if you customize them to the experience and each receiving individual.