How to Prepare for a Job Interview:
A step-by-step guide on how to prepare for a job interview. Includes strategies and tips on how to make a lasting impression and land your dream job.
Conduct research on the company.
Find out who you might be working for.
If it's been your goal to work for a particular company and you've been religiously following them for years, you may be able to skip this step; but candidates who are unfamiliar with potential employers will need to do thorough research before they start preparing for a job interview.
Some things you may want to find out include:
- Who they are, what they do, and where they're located.
- Founders and other key players.
- Mission statement and goals.
- The company's backstory.
- Recent milestones and other significant achievements.
- Projects and initiatives they're involved in.
- Specific details about the department you'll be working in.
- Conversations they're currently having.
- What role you will play and the contributions you can make.
You wouldn't want to bring it up in an interview, but when conducting your research, also look for red flags, such as poor reviews and lawsuits related to the company. Part of being well-prepared is finding out everything you can about your potential employer.
Start your research by looking at their social media pages and company website. Companies usually include a link to their site in any email correspondence.
Determine who the key players are and find out more about them. They may show up in Google searches, but should also have LinkedIn and social media profiles you can access.
Run a Google search on the company and see what comes up. You may also find video testimonials from previous clients and employees, which can be helpful.
Try to find video footage of the office or work environment, so you're familiar with the lay of the land when you come in for your interview.
Make sure you look the part.
This is an especially crucial aspect of the interview, whether you're doing a video call or an in-person interview. Choosing the correct outfit goes beyond merely ironing a suit or picking the right shade of lipstick. Make sure that whatever attire you choose fits in with what they wear at the company.
Pay attention to the staff's dress code in any online photos you find. Alternatively, walk by the office to catch a glimpse of what they wear. Your appearance and the outfit you choose can help you make a lasting impression, so plan it well.
Prepare for the interview.
Familiarize yourself with your resume.
The interviewer will usually have a copy of your resume in front of them throughout the interview. They may want more information about your education or previous experience, so be prepared to explain your credentials clearly.
Prior to the interview, make a note of all the training and experience you've had that's relevant to the position you've applied for. Also note any additional courses you've completed that will help you in the role.
Reflect on your personal and professional journey.
You'll invariably be asked questions where you'll need to substantiate your answers with real-life experience. Relevant examples can be difficult to come up with on the spot, but a good way to prepare for these kinds of questions is by reflecting on your professional and personal growth. Think deeply about the progress you've made over the years and jot down some key points.
Some things worth noting include:
- Significant learning curves and obstacles you've overcome.
- Goals you've reached.
- Lessons you've learned through making mistakes.
- Things you've managed to teach other colleagues.
- How your soft and hard skills have improved.
- Your involvement in projects and initiatives.
- Lessons you've learned from other colleagues.
As tempting as it is to prepare and rehearse full answers, refrain from doing this. Recruiters appreciate authentic responses, so create a bulleted list of short points that will help you think of insightful responses to questions that may be asked.
Prepare answers to common interview questions.
A few companies are adopting more contemporary interview forms, but most companies will ask a similar range of questions during your interview. These questions will help employers get to know you and gauge your goals. The wording of your answers is crucial to the message you want to convey, so take some time to look over common interview questions and what interviewers are looking for in your answers.
Read our article on common interview questions to see what employers look for in your answers.
Prepare questions for the interviewer.
Interviewers enjoy fielding questions from candidates because it shows an interest in the company and the role. Insightful questions also help the interviewer understand the level of research you've done and it's a chance to wow them with your knowledge of the company.
If you can find out ahead of time who'll be conducting your interview, you can do further research and ask questions that will really impress the interviewer.
Do a practice run.
Having a mock interview with a friend will build your confidence and allow you to practice correct body language. The aim of this exercise is to feel more comfortable with speaking about yourself, and not to rehearse every answer, as there is no guarantee that questions will be asked exactly as you practiced.
You may want to wear your interview outfit for the practice run just to ensure you feel absolutely comfortable in the clothes you've chosen.
Prepare for the unexpected.
Develop strategies for answering difficult questions.
Sometimes there's that one question that makes you stumble during an interview. Instead of getting flustered or allowing that deathly silence to fill the room, come up with a few strategies for answering these questions.
Some suggestions you may want to try include:
- Repeating the question.
- Asking them to repeat the question.
- Coming up with a phrase to use when stalling for time, such as "Oh, that's a good question!"
- Acknowledging the difficulty of the question and requesting more time to answer.
When answering a difficult question, stay calm, and avoid saying the first thing that comes to mind. If you don't have an answer ready, take a breath, use one of your strategies, and the answer will come to you.
Plan your journey.
Even if you're familiar with the area the company is located in, it's always a good idea to map out the route beforehand or to double-check the railway schedules, etc. for the day of your interview. You'll want to minimize the risk of any hiccups as these can cause unnecessary stress and even make you miss your interview.
If possible, try to travel to the interview venue before the time.
If you're doing a remote interview, make sure your equipment is working correctly, that you have access to a quiet room, and that you're using a stable internet connection. Be sure to do a practice run to check sound and lighting.
Review key points.
Read over your list of bulleted points relating to your personal and professional growth. If these are fresh in your mind for the interview, you'll be able to substantiate your answers with concrete examples from your career.
Feel free to take your notes with you to the interview, but don't refer to them during your actual interview. Similarly, if you're doing a remote interview, keep them on hand, but don't read your responses from the page.
Get ample rest.
This may seem like an obvious point, but it can be easy to forget in the days leading up to your interview. Getting a good night's sleep is one of the most important things you can do before your big day. If you're well-rested, you'll look refreshed, be less stressed, and feel more focused and capable.
Be sure to iron and prepare your outfit the night before your interview.
Should I ask about Salary During an Interview?
It seems to be undecided whether it's appropriate for a candidate to ask about the salary during an interview. A safe piece of advice is to wait until a second interview, or until a contract is being negotiated, to broach the subject.
If you ask too early, employers may think that salary is at the forefront of your interest in the role. While this is usually something candidates would like to know, it may be wise to wait until after the first meeting to inquire about it.
A group interview can seem daunting because it is harder to grab the attention of the interviewer. To prepare for a group interview, make sure that you have questions for the interviewer. This will give you a chance to make an impression and show your enthusiasm for the role.
Phone and Video Interviews.
Some companies choose to host phone or video interviews to screen candidates before deciding who to call in for in-person interviews. Companies that offer remote work may also host these interviews because of distance or because they do not have an office.
Read our article to discover the most common phone interview questions and how to answer them.
Preparing for a Video Interview:
Make sure that you have a headset and a stable internet connection. If your sound is too scratchy or you have loud surroundings, this may annoy the interviewer and cause miscommunication if they cannot hear you clearly.
Ensure that you are in a well-lit room and that you still dress appropriately for an interview. If you fail to put an effort into your appearance, this will be obvious to the interviewer and reflect badly on your interest in the role.
More Interview Resources:
How do I prepare for a job interview?
How can I be successful in an interview?
If you want to be successful in an interview, choose an appropriate outfit, prepare answers to the most common interview questions, and think of questions to ask the interviewer.
How long do you need to prepare for an interview?
Typically, you should prepare for an interview as soon as you know about it. There is no set amount of time for being properly prepared, but it is important that you follow the steps to preparing for an interview, and ensure that you are confident about any answers you may need to provide.
Is it OK to bring notes to an interview?
It is OK to bring notes to an interview if those notes are a list of questions for the interviewer. It would be inappropriate to bring notes in the form of a "cheat sheet" to remember information about yourself or how you would like to answer questions. The interview is designed to help employers learn about you, which shouldn't have to be rehearsed.
How do you answer: "Why should we hire you?"
The first thing you should mention is how you match up to the ideal candidate description. Explain how your skills and experience match up to what the role requires. Then, elaborate a bit on how your goals and values align with the company.
What is a "where do you see yourself in 5 years?" answer example?
Your answer should reflect how you can integrate into the company's structure and grow your career within the context of your department. For example:
"In five years I would like to introduce more projects to the department and spearhead these projects."
What you should never do or say in an interview?
You should never go to an interview without having researched what the company does. The interviewer will almost always ask you why you would like to work for their company, and your answer should include specific details about the company's goals and ethos.
It is also frowned upon to ask about salary in the first interview. Employers find this to be an indication of being money-driven, despite this being a common question amongst candidates.
What are six questions that you can ask an interviewer?
- What is the company culture like?
- What would some of my day-to-day responsibilities be?
- What are some of the company's goals?
- What do you like most about the company?
- What are the next steps in the interview process?
- What are some of this department's goals?
How do you sell yourself during an interview?
Being confident is always a good way to impress an interviewer. To be more confident, you should look over some common interview questions and what interviewers are looking for in your answers. This will help you to answer questions more appropriately, giving the interviewer the information they need.
Think of how your skills and experience match what the company is looking for, and how you can help the company grow in the long term.
What are skill-based interview questions?
Skill-based interview questions are designed to test how you can implement skills such as leadership, teamwork, and problem-solving in a workspace. You will be asked to provide an example of when this skill was used in your previous roles.
How do you close an interview?
Once the interviewer has asked all of their questions, they will open the floor to you to ask any of your own questions. After this, it would be prudent to ask what the next steps in the interview process are. This is a good way to close the interview because it allows the interviewer to not only tell you when they should be in contact but also to conclude that this portion of the process is over.
How can I be more confident in an interview?
By conducting thorough research on the company, preparing answers to commonly asked questions, and completing mock interviews, you will feel more confident when you sit down for the real interview.
How do I answer: "Why are you the best candidate for the position?"
You should list all relevant skills and experience that the role requires, as well as explain how your career path and goals align with the company.
How do you answer salary question in interview?
Perform market research before the interview to find out what this position's salary usually is. Provide a range rather than a specific amount, as an over-inflated estimate will put employers off.
What is a "can you tell me about yourself?" sample answer?
"I was in the debate club in college and high school, giving me some experience with researching my argument and presenting in front of a large audience. Throughout my law degree, I volunteered at the legal aid office and enjoyed the practical experience this provided me."
Is it OK to tell an interviewer you are nervous?
Nerves can be a good indicator that a candidate cares about the role, so it would not be inappropriate to mention this if the interviewer asks how you are feeling.
What three things should you not say in an interview?
Try not to give a generic answer, try not to over-share irrelevant information, and don't bad-mouth your current or previous employers.
What are the most common interview mistakes?
- Arriving late.
- Wearing creased or inappropriate clothing.
- Not researching the company.
- Candidates hesitating when answering questions about themselves.
- Providing generic or irrelevant answers.
- Not preparing questions to ask the interviewer.
What is the best answer to: "What is your weakness?"
Try to answer this honestly without trying to turn a strength into a weakness. For example, saying that perfectionism is a weakness comes across as boasting about your meticulousness. Try to mention something that you can improve on, as well as how to plan to improve.
Is it OK to ask about working hours in an interview?
Yes, it is OK to ask about working hours in an interview. Not only is it good to know what to expect from the position, but it will also show an interest in the role's demands.
How do you ace a phone interview?
To ace a phone interview, make sure that you are sitting in a quiet room. If need be, use a headset to minimize background noise.
What are the top 10 phone interview questions?
- What is your current and expected salary?
- Why are you leaving your current role?
- Detail the most successful idea you have taken from concept to launch.
- What are the typical mistakes other candidates make in this role?
- Why did you apply for this job?
- What is your current salary?
- What is your expected salary?
- What most qualifies you for this position?
- What is the most difficult part of this position?
- What is the most important part of this position?
Should I ask about salary in a phone interview?
If this is your first interview, it may be inappropriate to ask about salary. This question is often perceived as a candidate being money-driven instead of having a genuine interest in the role.
How do you sell yourself on a phone interview?
Be sure to answer all questions thoughtfully and concisely. Your answers should fully answer the question with relevant information.
How do you prepare for a video interview?
Make sure that you are in a quiet and clean room. Try to use a headset to minimize background noise and enhance your voice quality.
What kind of questions are asked in a video interview?
The same questions that are asked during in-person interviews may be asked in video interviews.
What should you not do in a video interview?
Try not to ramble or provide irrelevant information when answering questions. Don't take the interview in a noisy environment or during a time when you may be disrupted.
What should I wear to a video interview?
You should wear office-appropriate clothing for a video interview, such as a shirt or blouse that has been pressed. Be sure to neaten your hair or facial hair, and touch up your make up if necessary.
Can you look at notes during a video interview?
If you have been asked to prepare answers for a video interview then it could be acceptable to use notes sparingly. If not, try not to use notes unless it is to refer to questions you have for the interviewer.
What do employers look for in video interviews?
Employers will look for confidence, relevant skills, and a genuine interest in the role and company. You should try to display positive body language like a good posture and nodding your head, rather than folding your arms or obscuring your face with your hands.
How do you end a video interview?
You should try to ask the interviewer any questions you may have about the role or the company. In addition, try to find out what the next steps in the interview process are. Once this has been addressed, thank the interviewer for their time.
What is the point of video interviews?
Video interviews may be used to screen potential candidates and see who fits what the company is looking for before inviting candidates for an in-person interview. Companies looking for remote employees may also host video interviews because the interviewer and candidate are in different locations.
Can you wear headphones during a video interview?
Yes, you can wear headphones during a video interview. This will improve your audio quality and help you hear the interviewer better.
Can I do a video interview on my phone?
While it is possible to do a video interview on your phone, the video and audio quality will not be as good as that of a laptop or desktop. If you can only use a phone, try to use a headset to improve your audio quality.
What are good weaknesses?
A good weakness to mention in your interview is a skill that you can improve on. For example, if you feel that you are bad at public speaking, you should mention this and add that you plan to take a course on public speaking.
Is a second interview a good sign?
Yes. Typically, a second interview means that the interviewer was happy with your first interview and that you have moved on to the next stage in the interview process.
What are some good questions to ask in a second interview?
A second interview is a good opportunity to ask for details about the position and what will be expected from you. You can also broach the subject of your salary in this interview.