The Most Important Step to Landing a Job is Being Prepared for Your Interviews

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Why prepare for a job interview?

You have already submitted an application and/or resume, and you know your work history, achievements and skillsets, so what need is there to prepare? The most important reason to prepare is to enable yourself to do great in an interview!

Companies typically interview quite a few candidates for each open position. Interviewing provides a special opportunity for each candidate to have his or her own time slot to exchange information that both the candidate and the company need to make a decision about next steps. The next step could be moving forward in their selection process, a job offer, or parting ways.

Your ability to speak effectively about your qualifications–your job-related skills, knowledge, and experience–as they relate to the company’s needs and requirements, is critically important to your success in a job interview. Your personality, communication skills, level of interest and enthusiasm for the role are important components being considered, as well.

Preparation is the ingredient that enables you to present yourself at your best. There are many advantages you can gain from investing the time for this valuable activity; preparing well for an interview:

  • Can reduce fear, stress and anxiety
  • Increases your comfort level
  • Enables you to focus on answering each question clearly and effectively
  • Provides you with basic knowledge about the job and the company that equips you to ask good questions
  • Helps you anticipate and be ready for some of the interviewer(s)’ questions
  • Equips you to speak well, choosing your words ahead of time to best explain your experience and job changes

Companies are looking for the best qualified, most motivated people they can find. They want new people who will add both value and positivity, for the company and the company culture. Walking into an interview without being well prepared can hurt your chances of being selected or seriously considered for a job. Being eliminated from consideration because you didn’t do well enough in a job interview means you’ve missed out on an opportunity that was within your grasp.

Preparation Tips

First, Do Your Research

  1. Educate yourself. Step one, gather information. Learn about the company. Where can you find the best information? Try the following sites:
    • The company’s website is the best starting point to learn about products, services, the company purpose, mission and culture and values
    • LinkedIn is a good source for information both about the company and individuals who work there; you may be able to find the person you’re interviewing with by searching by his/her name.
  2. Understand the job opportunity. Review the job posting thoroughly, more than once. Highlight or write down the key information:
    • Job responsibilities/duties
    • The job requirements: Skills, Education, Knowledge, and Experience, etc.
  3. Assess how good a match your qualifications are with the job responsibilities and requirements.
    • Using your resume for reference, list (using bullets) examples of experience you have that matches up with each responsibility and job requirement.
    • Note the training you’ve had that relates to the job you’re interviewing to do.
    • Note the gaps: any job requirements you do not meet1.
    • Remember the suggestions you made that your boss supported you in implementing — this may include improvements you’ve made in your work methods or the impact you had by following your curiosity to improve your performance results.
  4. Make a list of questions you anticipate you will be asked.
  5. Make a list of 2-4 questions you will ask.

Second, Prepare to Answer Interview Questions

Each interview question posed to you provides you with an opportunity to give a clear picture of what it would be like to have you on the team. Answer each question thoroughly, clearly and concisely. Don’t ramble or go off on tangents.

It is likely you’ll be asked quite a few questions; some of the most common topics include the following:1

  • Your work history: where you were employed, dates of employment
  • Job responsibilities
  • Accomplishments
  • Improvements you innovated and gained approval to implement
  • Reasons for leaving each employer
  • Examples of problems (and solutions)
  • Strengths
  • Weaknesses
  • Objectives
  • Various questions about your job-related behavior

Create a list of questions you want to practice answering as part of your preparation. Jot down responses, tweaking your responses until you’re satisfied that they are professional, positive, complete, and concise.

Take opportunities when appropriate to highlight times you’ve gone above and beyond to prevent or solve a problem.

Practice enough; either in front of a mirror or with someone else–enough so that you become comfortable talking about your skills, knowledge and experience, and you have examples ready that demonstrate your performance, problem solving, and accomplishments without sounding full of yourself or falsely humble.

Third, Keep in Mind a Few DOs & DON’Ts for the Interview

  • Do: Manage your grooming and maintain a professional appearance; make sure your clothing is not too casual, too revealing, or too dressy.
  • Don’t: wear perfume/cologne.
  • Do: Turn your cell phone off before you enter the building.
  • Do: Bring a small bottle of water; nerves and talking can make us thirsty.
  • Do: Bring extra copies of your resume, just in case.
  • Do: Be prepared to answer questions about your desired compensation
  • Do: Be friendly and respectful to everyone you encounter from arriving at the door to your departure.
  • Do: Be patient while waiting. Stay professional. Review your resume, observe your surroundings, look at a company brochure if one is offered/available on a table.
  • Don’t: Play computer games or listen to music while waiting.
  • Don’t: Chew gum, hum to yourself, put your feet up on a table, slouch in a chair or slurp your beverage.
  • Don’t: Be negative, cast blame or badmouth co-workers or companies who hired you in the past.
  • Do: Be positive and show enthusiasm for the work, role, and growth in prior positions.

Summary

Each interview provides a unique new chance to show your individual approach to work, and how you make a difference through what you do and how you do it. Having the will to find the right job opportunity is important; having the will to prepare for the interview is vital. We wish you success in preparing so as to succeed in finding the right role for you and landing the job!

Footnote:

1It may go without saying: We recommend our clients be honest even in describing difficult situations that are anticipated to come up in interviews. Misleading and exaggerations will likely plague one’s conscience, generate anxiety, hinder tone/voice/body language as well as potentially become a cause of termination when discovered by the employer. Prepare your explanation to include what you learned from the experience, and what you’ll do differently in the future.

“The Job Interview: Tips for Success and Common Interview Questions,” — LINK: https://www.snhu.edu/about-us/newsroom/career/job-interview-tips

“Your Complete Guide to a Successful Job Interview,” — LINK: https://www.businessnewsdaily.com/9728-interview-guide.html

“21 Job Interview Tips: How to Make a Great Impression,” — LINK:https://www.indeed.com/career-advice/interviewing/job-interview-tips-how-to-make-a-great-impression

“5 Behavioral Questions to Know,” — LINK: https://www.kforce.com/articles/common-behavioral-interview-questions/

“Job Interview Questions, Answers, and Tips to Prepare,” — LINK: https://www.thebalancecareers.com/job-interview-questions-and-answers-2061204

Copyright 2021 by Rosanna M. Nadeau

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