The great thing about an upcoming job interview is that it doesn't have to be a surprise. There's no reason to go into a job interview cold. It's easier than ever to do your homework on a potential employer. You have some killer resources at your fingertips that can help you prepare, get the attention of the hiring manager and land that new job.
1. Explore the Company's Website
Start by looking at what the organization is showing the world about who they are, what they do and what they are proud of. Know these things, along with the company's mission and core values.
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Is there an About Us page? Check it out. Find the department to which you're applying and see if there are any bios to read. This part is just good background information for you to gather about the people you might meet at the interview.
The website can also give you a peek into your potential co-workers and the company culture. Look at their news and events pages. See what they post on their social media pages and LinkedIn profile.
This insight into their world helps you learn who they are, who they are looking for and how you fit in.
2. Study the Job Description
Don't just skim over the job description; really dig into it. Take notes when something stands out to you. The key phrases to look for fit into one of two basic categories: what you'll do and what qualifications you need. Each of these things are all there for a reason, so take a close look.
By reviewing the job title, purpose, duties and responsibilities, you'll learn quickly what is important to the role. The same goes for the qualifications, education, skills and experience.
Start making notes that you'll use for job interview preparation such as where your skills align, examples of what you've accomplished that illustrate how you fit the role and what unique value you bring to the company.
3. Study Common Interview Questions
Sources like LinkedIn, college career pages and recruiter sites are full of incredible insider information that can give you an upper hand when it comes to interview questions. No need to have jitters about trick questions because you can get examples of a full range of potential questions, from the traditional and straightforward ones to the behavioral and creative ones.
Consider also: Interview Questions You Should Expect
4. Prepare Answers and Questions
Your potential employer is very likely to ask you questions that highlight your experience, show your initiative and give insight into your personal qualities. Prepare answers ahead of time so what you share is meaningful and concrete – and expressed with confidence.
If you have someone who can do a mock interview with you, go for it. Especially if it's a mentor or career coach that can give you interview tips as you walk through the interview process. If you can find a professional in a similar field that will engage in an informational interview with you, even better.
Consider also: Informational Interview Answers
Don't stop there. Think ahead to the follow-up questions you want to ask, too. Skip the questions about pay and benefits at this stage. Stick to those related to the job description, company mission and company culture. Let your potential employer know that you're interested in these things.
Consider also: Examples of a Biggest Weakness for a Job Interview
5. Be at Your Professional Best
Your first impression really matters. At the actual interview, dress for the role, be self-aware, pay attention to your body language and maintain eye contact as you listen and answer the questions.
Have copies of your resume and cover letter ready to share digitally if it's a virtual interview or in hard copy if you are meeting in person. At the end of the interview, thank the hiring team and ask about next steps.
Prepare your thank-you note in advance, too. Have a template ready that you can personalize and update after your interview.
Consider also: Let LinkedIn Help You With Your Interview Skills
- Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS): Employment Interviewing: Seizing the Opportunity and the Job
- U.S. Department of Labor: Interview Tips
- California.Gov Office of Human Resources: How to Prepare for an Inteview
- Berkley.edu: Interviewing (pdf)
- University of Michigan: Interviewing Resources
- U.S. National Library of Medicine/National Institutes of Health (NCBI): How to PRepare for an Interview
- LinkedIn: Common Interview Questions
- Wright State University: Writing an Effective Job Description
- Society for Human Resources Management: How to Develop a Job Description