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Prepare for an interview with confidence

How To Prepare for an Interview – 14 Comprehensive Tips To Get You Ready

Job interviews intimidate many of us. You’re putting yourself on display, so to speak, and that can feel uncomfortable. You’re also aware that you need to convey your value in a short period of time – usually 30 to 60 minutes – and that the initial few moments matter a lot in making a strong first impression. With this in mind, preparation is crucial to presenting yourself in the best possible way and to increasing your chances of success. Here are some tips to help you prepare for an interview with confidence:

  1. Research the company. Learn about the industry in which the company operates, including where it fits in – is it a leader, a smaller player, a new entrant? Is it growing, stagnant, or struggling? Understand the company’s products and services, its suppliers, its customers, and its primary competitors. Check into how it describes its mission, values, and culture. What do former employees say about the company? And brush up on recent news and developments related to the company, taking note of recent successes or challenges they describe.

Sources for this information can include:

    • General internet searches, e.g., “x industry competitors”
    • ChatGPT or similar AI query tools (bear in mind, though, that these tools often lack the most up-to-date information)
    • Company website, including their Press Releases and (if they’re a public company) their Investor Relations information, such as financial statements and presentations to Wall Street analysts
    • Company annual report
    • Company social media sites
    • Company public filing documents, such as 10Ks that public US companies file with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC)
    • Industry research, though many of these sources will require paying a fee
    • Family, friends or professional contacts who might have familiarity with the company or the industry
    • Glassdoor and similar “employee review” sites, recognizing that these are usually somewhat biased and often represent only a small sampling of employee perspectives
  1. Understand the job role. Review the job description and requirements. Identify the key qualifications that are needed. Be ready to discuss your relevant skills and experience and how they align with those requirements. Don’t over-worry that you don’t meet every individual requirement of the job – you’ve gotten the interview, after all – but do be prepared to discuss how you would address your skill or experience gaps if you were to get the job.
  2. Learn about your interviewers. Ask the recruiter for a list of interviewers and their biographies, if this information isn’t automatically provided. Use LinkedIn or Google searches to read up on your interviewers. Find potential areas of common ground, such as a shared alma mater, past company, or interest. If possible, ask mutual contacts to share their thoughts on your interviewers, including their likely style and areas of focus in the interview.
  3. Know your resume and prepare your SOAR stories. Be ready to discuss your work experience, skills, and accomplishments. Practice talking about your previous roles and projects. Highlight specific achievements that demonstrate your abilities. A good framework for describing these is SOAR:
    • Situation – what was the context or the starting point?
    • Obstacle – what particular challenge were you facing?
    • Action – how did you approach the situation, what options did you consider, and what did you ultimately decide to do?
    • Result – what outcome did you achieve for the company?
  1. Be clear in your expectations. While you’re likely more focused on meeting your interviewers’ expectations, be clear on your own as well. These can include your desired salary and total compensation, benefits, working conditions, culture, or anything else that’s going to make the job work for you.
  2. Anticipate common interview questions. Consider whether you’re likely to get any particular questions based on what’s in your resume – such as if you’ve had a break in employment or done something quite different in the past. Prepare your responses (write them down for easy reference) and practice delivering them. Be ready to cover your past experiences, showcase your skills, and discuss your strengths and weaknesses.
  3. Develop your elevator pitch. This should be a brief summary of your background, skills, and career goals. Practice delivering it confidently and concisely. If you’re asked, “Tell me about yourself”, this is the content you want to convey. If you’re not asked this question, find a way to convey this information in the first few moments of the interview, so that the interviewer is clear on the unique value you would bring to the role.
  4. Prepare your questions. Have a list of thoughtful questions to ask the interviewer. These could relate to the company culture, team dynamics, expectations for the role, how success will be measured, or even the interviewer’s own experience. Also be ready to ask about those factors that are important to you, such as the amount of travel, hybrid or remote working, or schedule flexibility. Check out our separate guide on Questions to Ask in a Job Interview.
  5. Practice for the interview. Ask a family member, friend, colleague, or a career coach to do a mock interview with you. Give them particular questions to ask that you want to make sure you’re especially prepared for. Get their feedback on what you did well and where you should improve. Evaluate whether your responses are hitting the mark relative to the role requirements. Consider your eye contact, body language, tone and speaking pace. You could even video yourself doing the mock interview, to review how you came across.
  6. Understand the interview format. Ask the recruiter about the format of the interview. For example, will it include:
    • Behavioral questions, such as “Tell me about a time when you faced an ethical dilemma” or “Talk about a recent failure”
    • Technical assessments, such as a software coding test
    • Mock presentations, based on an advance assignment

By knowing what to expect in advance, you’ll be better prepared and more at ease.

  1. Dress appropriately. Whether you’re interviewing in person or by video, choose professional attire that aligns with the company culture. A good rule of thumb is to dress one notch above what you might wear day-to-day if you got the job.
  2. Choose your location, if you’re interviewing by video. Pick a quiet place, away from distractions like children and pets. Use a virtual background or blur your actual background, so that your background itself doesn’t become a distraction for your interviewer(s). Make sure you have your video settings configured beforehand, so that you’re not rushing to set them up at the beginning of the actual interview.
  3. Plan your route, if you’re interviewing in person. Research the interview location and plan your travel in advance. Allow for traffic or public transportation delays. Leave extra time, and identify where you may be able to do some final preparation if you arrive early, such as at a nearby coffee shop.
  4. Bring necessary materials. Have multiple copies of your resume with you, if you’re interviewing in person. Have a notepad and pen at hand, so that you can take notes during the interview or immediately afterward. Taking notes will allow you to reflect on what you’ve learned, what went well and less well, what you want to put in follow-up notes to your interviewers, the adjustments you’ll want to make in the next round of interviews, and the questions you have.

Above all, remember to be authentic, confident, and enthusiastic about the opportunity. Good luck!

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