You’ve made it through the hardest part—getting your application noticed and landing an interview. Now what? Presumably, your resume is similar enough to the other successful candidates, otherwise they wouldn’t have called you. That means your task is to out-research and out-prepare the competition so you leave the hiring manager feeling impressed.
Here’s our best tips for preparing for your next job interview:
Do your research
Think about this from the perspective of the interviewer. They’re looking for the most qualified person who’s going to help the company the most. If you’re able to do your research and provide specific examples of how you can help the company, you’re going to stand out.
What are you actually supposed to be researching? Here’s a simple framework; look for the intersection of your past successful projects, your job description, and the company’s current reality. If you’re applying for a marketing role, read all of their marketing materials and identify how they can improved, backing it up with real examples from your past. If you’re in sales, research their competitors and how you would position the sale relative to the competition.
And if you really want to wow the interviewer, print out an analysis or action plan on how you would make improvements to the company in your role.
Practice, practice, practice. There’s nothing worse than having nothing to say to an interview question, or giving a vague and lame answer because you had never considered it before. The first step in practicing for an interview is to write out all the questions you might be asked. Glassdoor can help you in this area.
“Tell us about your background”
“What drew you to this role?”
“What companies do you admire and why?”
“Describe a challenge you had to overcome and how you did it”
These kinds of questions are common, but not easy to answer on the spot. Write down a few bullet points for all the main questions you think you might get. Then practice sitting down in front of a mirror and rehearsing how you sound while giving the answers. You might want even want to film yourself so you can watch it back and make improvements.
Get the dress code right
This is the first (and possibly only) time you’re meeting face to face with the company. You have to use everything at your disposal to make the best impression, and that includes what you wear and how you look.
But this isn’t as straightforward as it used to be. In the past, wearing formal clothes was the standard. Today, semiformal or even casual clothing is more the norm. In fact, as more startups and progressive companies look for culture fit, you might even make a bad impression by wearing a suit. They might think “Sharp dresser, but he’s not a good fit for us.” You will also feel awkward if you show up in a suit while your interviewer is wearing a fitted t-shirt and jeans. Look at their About Us or Careers page to see if there’s pictures of the staff. Then dress just one step above that.
Get in the zone
First, take care of all the day-of details in advance. Look up directions, figure out parking, double-check the name of your interviewer, check the buzz code, etc.
Then, plan how you’re going to get into ‘the zone’. How would you plan your day to give you the most energy? How much sleep do you need? Would a morning run pump you up, or exhaust you? What would calm you down more, Netflix or reading a book? Plan your ideal morning so that you walk into the interviewer feeling energetic, calm, and focused.
You’ll nail the interview the same way you crafted your application: by impressing the hiring manager with a professional and customized approach. And if you don’t get the job, don’t give up. Go back to the job board and keeping looking for the perfect.