Interviewing for a job has a way of setting your nerves on edge. It is, after all, a very vulnerable experience. You’re called in to sit before someone as they critically examine your work and character with off-the-cuff questions you have to give perfect answers to.
Preparation, of course, is key to making sure you don’t get overwhelmed, but sometimes it can be tough to know how to prepare. You aren’t in school anymore; a job interview isn’t something you can memorize a bunch of facts for. But you can and should prepare, and it’s not as hard as it might seem. Equipping yourself both physically and mentally will allow you to approach an interview with courage and confidence rather than nervousness.
Here’s a few keys to great interview preparation:
Do your research.
Go online and read about the company, both what they say about themselves on their site and what third parties say about them on sites like Glassdoor or in the media. This will help you be ready to answer questions such as, “Why do you want to work for our company?” The company interviewing you wants to see your interest in the business and the role, to see that you already know about them, their mission, and the work they do.
Make connections between your experience and the company’s needs.
Review the job description carefully and takes notes on how your experience relates to each of the requirements. Think of stories from your previous employment that are relevant for the job you are interviewing for, especially times that you solved unexpected problems or found a way to improve your old company. This way you can share how uniquely qualified you are for the role and your interviewer can see how you add value to the companies you’re with.
Think of stories from your previous employment…especially times that you solved unexpected problems or found a way to improve your old company.
Pick your outfit ahead of time.
Choose your outfit the day before your interview — don’t attempt to leave it for the last minute and let it add stress to your day. Wear something you feel confident and professional in. Base your outfit off the type of company you are interviewing with. The interview outfit you might wear for a fashion company interview is probably not what you would wear to interview for a tech company.
Get a good night’s sleep.
This might be the most obvious piece of advice on this list, but it’s so important that it’s worth saying anyways. Sleep can make all the difference. Resting well the night before the interview will help you wake up refreshed and clear-minded, ready for the interview.
Psych yourself up.
On the way to the interview, think about the growth you have made in your career and how hard you have worked. If this is your “first” job after college, then think about how much you’ve learned in your education that you are ready to put to use. Think about your wonderful friends and why they believe in you, recall specific encouragements they have given you that motivated you to apply for the job in the first place. This allows you to enter the interview confident and happy.
Plan ahead with your route to the interview. Factor in possible traffic so you can be sure to arrive early for the interview. Arriving early not only shows your potential future employers that you value their time, but it also allows you a few moments to sit in the waiting room going over your points you want to bring up in the interview. Plan to arrive five to ten minutes early, if you arrive much more it could distract attention from a busy company, let whoever greets you know you’re early and happy to sit and wait.
If you managed to get through traffic quickly and arrive earlier than ten minutes before the interview, you can go over your resume and thoughts in your car or on a bench outside before going in. Give yourself time to take an extra moment to breathe deeply and feel ready.
If you find yourself mid-interview becoming nervous and talking in circles, then find a place to look to calm your mind. Look at your resume before you or look out a window for a moment. Give yourself a focus point to calm your thoughts and speech. Perhaps ask your interviewers if they have questions about your experience or previous work. Answering questions rather than being given open room to speak can help your answers be more concise.
It is so important to remember that they chose you to be interviewed. This means they liked your resume and your experience, and that something about you stood out to them. They want to know more about you and what you can offer. An employer is not trying to see you fail in the interview. Their greatest hope is that you’ll impress them, and since they’re already expecting you to, it’s easier for you to do so.
What’s the biggest interview you’ve had? How did you prepare for it?
Feature Image via Stephanie Velez