Got an interview coming up in a few days? Now’s the time to prepare. Sure, you can just wing it, and you might be fine—but taking the time to get yourself ready will put you a step ahead of the applicants who didn’t. If you already know you’re qualified, now you just have to make sure your interviewer sees it too. Here are a few things you can do to prepare yourself.
One of the first things you can do is to find out a few things about the company you want to work for. Look at things like the CEO’s bio and the company’s mission, then come up with 2 or 3 questions that you would like to ask about the company. Usually your interviewer will give you a chance to ask questions, and it looks better when you have some. These questions shouldn’t be about money or benefits; the best time to negotiate those are after you receive an offer. While thinking about what questions you want to ask, also prepare an answer to why you want to work for this company. The interview is the time to show that you’re passionate about the job.
There’s a good chance your interviewer is going to ask you a question about something on your resume or application. Be prepared with an answer. If you have a gap in employment, be ready to explain why. If you wrote that you helped your company grow sales by 5%, be able to explain how. You’ll also be able to keep from contradicting yourself. If your resume says you worked for a company in 2007, you don’t want to accidentally say it was in 2006.
Whether it’s with a friend, or with yourself in front of the mirror, practice your answers to the interviewer’s questions. There are many books out there about possible interview questions, so I won’t (and can’t) list them all here, but common ones include, “What’s your greatest strength?” and “What’s your biggest weakness?” as well as “Why do you want to work for us?” Another common one is “Describe a difficult situation that you handled well.” There are millions of possible questions, but if you get yourself thinking about a few possible ones, you’ll be much better prepared.
Dressing the part is very important, and wrinkles on your button-down shirt don’t set the right tone. If you’re interviewing for a very casual job, a suit may not be appropriate, but wrinkles never are. If you have a chance to scout out the place you want to work at, see what kind of clothing the employees wear. Dress at least that nice for the interview. If you don’t have a chance to scout it out before you go, use your best judgment. Typically, it’s better to overdress rather than underdress, but if you’re interviewing for a construction job in an Armani suit, overdressing can be just as damaging.
This is especially important if you tend to get lost. Check to make sure your GPS can find the address, print out directions from Mapquest, or even drive the route if you feel you need to. Just make sure you know how to get there, and make sure you know about how long it will take. There’s nothing worse than getting lost and missing the interview altogether. Almost as bad is showing up half an hour late because you thought it only took twenty minutes to get there.
Yawning during the interview may make the interviewer think you’re bored, and that’s not the impression you want to give. A growling stomach doesn’t look (okay, sound) good either. Plus, you’ll have your wits about you for those tough interview questions. If you prepare your body, your mind will be freed up to focus on the task at hand.
This one may seem obvious, but make sure you look and smell clean. Don’t go overboard, though. No matter how nice you smell, you don’t want your smell to be all the interviewer notices about you. If you wear perfume or cologne, keep it to one or two spritzes.
But not too early. Between five and fifteen minutes early is a good timeframe.
First, have a positive attitude about the job itself. The interviewer may describe the job duties, and even if you haven’t done anything exactly like it before, show him or her that you’re confident you will be able to figure it out. Second, have a positive attitude about the interview. Even if you don’t get the job, now you have a little more practice with interviewing. And as we all know, practice makes perfect—or, at least, a little bit closer to perfect.