8 Steps to Prepare for a Great Job Interview

July 13 2012

If you’ve spent a lot of time looking for work, finally getting that call to go in for a face to face interview can be a huge relief. In the current economy, many employers have a multi-tiered hiring process that involves multiple steps before the face to face interview, including phone chats, background checks, internet searches, contacting character and business references and other pre-employment screening tools.  We live in a time when there are more people than jobs to fill, so employers are going to be especially picky about whom to hire.  Even low wage jobs are screening out all but the best and brightest, so it’s important to take the job interview process very seriously.
  1. Do your homework. (http://www.bls.gov/oco/oco20045.htm) Hopefully, you’ve been reading up on the company where you’d like to be hired during the entire pre-employment period.  Scour the company website, read all the press releases, follow all the links in your search engine and contact anyone in your network who might be able to tell you more information about what the company.  The more you know about the company, the easier it will be to see how you can fit into their organization in a way that’s beneficial to them.
  2. Find an honest friend and practice your interviewing skills. (http://www.jobinterviewquestions.org/questions/types-questions.asp) Every company has its own system for screening potential hires, and many companies have sent their hiring managers to specialized training in how to interview and screen potential candidates.  Have your friend ask you a series of work related questions to practice thinking on your feet and speaking clearly and concisely under pressure.  Note any verbal tics you might have, like saying “um” or “uh” or mispronouncing words, and work to eliminate them before the interview.   Practice giving longer answers that have a beginning, a middle and a conclusion. Make sure you don’t wander off topic or get stuck trying to think of what to say next.  Practice making good eye contact with your friend, as well.
  3. Polish your appearance. (http://www.jobinterviewquestions.org/questions/interview-dress.asp) In most jobs interviews, it’s appropriate to dress for a job higher on the food chain than the one you’re applying for.  Men can almost always wear a suit, or a button down shirt and tie for a more casual job.  Women can usually wear a suit, or a skirt or dress pants with a white blouse.  For the suit, pants or skirt, it’s best to stick with classic colors like black, navy blue or charcoal gray.  If you’re applying for a job in a more creative field, or one where professional appearance isn’t as necessary, use your own best judgment.  Make sure to take your interview clothes are clean and pressed the day before you need them.  Make sure your hair is tidy, and get a trim or haircut if needed.  Several people will be shaking your hand, make sure your nails and cuticles are looking their best.  If you have facial hair, make sure it is neatly trimmed and groomed.  Plan to brush and floss your teeth right before your interview, so you don’t accidentally try to get your dream job with spinach in your teeth.  Avoid perfume, cologne or after shave on interview day, there’s no promise the person hiring you will like it.
  4. Print out multiple copies of your resume.  Many companies will be working from a scan of your emailed resume, it’s nice to have paper copies you can hand out during the interview which you know look nice.  Even though you should have sent off a perfect copy of your resume, double check to make sure all your facts are correct and that you’ve avoided typos.  If you’re applying for a job that asks for work examples, like a writer or an artist, make sure to put together multiple copies of your portfolio that can be left with multiple people.
  5. Take care of yourself.  Get plenty of sleep and eat well in the days leading up to the interview.  Make sure to take time to relax, even if it’s just a few minutes, on the day of the interview and the days before.  Arrange everything you can the day or evening before the interview, so you keep distractions and potentially stressful situations at a minimum on the day of the interview.
  6. Smile and be yourself. Don’t try to be someone you aren’t during an interview, but make sure you’re highlighting the parts of yourself that will make you a good fit with the company. (http://career-advice.monster.com/job-interview/interview-preparation/interviewers-pet-peeves/article.aspx) Good luck on your search!

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