Preparing for an interview can influence a company's hiring decision. Knowing how to prepare for an interview ensures you make the most of your time and can ultimately set you up for success. In this article, we explain the importance of preparing for an interview and list the steps you can take to prepare for an interview.
Why should you prepare for an interview?
Preparing for an interview can increase your chances of getting the job. Here are some added benefits of proper preparation:
- Gained confidence: Practising your answers to common interview questions can help you feel more comfortable speaking about your qualifications.
- Interview guidance: Knowing what you want to say ahead of time can help you guide the flow of the interview. Having a memorised list of the main points you want to cover can also help you maintain focus.
- Thoughtful questions: Researching the company and the role lets you think of insightful questions to ask during your interview. Asking these questions may impress hiring managers.
What are the different types of interviews?
Employers hold a variety of different interviews to find the best candidates. Knowing the different types of interviews can guide your preparation process. Here are the different types of interviews, as well as tips to help you prepare for them:
Internal interview: An internal interview is an interview for a job at a company that you're already working for. For these interviews, notify your employer, speak well of your current position and highlight the contributions and achievements you've made for the company.
Online interview: Online interviews take place over an online video or audio platform. For these interviews, choose a quiet and tidy environment that you're comfortable in and make sure you have a reliable internet connection.
Informal interview: Informal interviews take place in a casual setting outside of the workplace. Make sure to dress professionally despite the informal location.
Panel interview: During these interviews, you meet several interviewers at once. Acknowledge and engage with everyone and establish eye contact with every person while you speak.
How to prepare for an interview
Before you prepare for an interview, consider your goals and qualifications. Researching the company and reviewing the job description can help you justify what makes you the best candidate for the job. Use these steps to prepare for a general interview:
1. Review the job description
Before attending an interview, read the job description and use it as a preparation guide. Review the list of qualifications and qualities the employer seeks in a candidate. Determine how you align with the job description and how you can highlight your relevant qualifications to hiring managers. Reviewing the job description can also help you determine what you want to ask the hiring manager at the end of the interview.
2. Consider why you want the job
Determine why you want the position and what makes you the best fit for the role. Understanding both can help you explain your interest in the position during the interview.
3. Conduct research
Conduct research to help you ask thoughtful questions during the interview. Consider visiting the company's website and social media pages. Here are some specific things to research prior to your interview:
- Company: Get to know the company's goals, mission and overall culture. Knowing this information can impress hiring managers and give you added insight into your prospective employer.
- Products and services: Learn what you can about the company's offerings. Even if the role doesn't relate to the company's products and services, it's important to have a basic understanding of what the company offers.
- Role: Apart from reviewing the job description, research similar jobs in the workforce. Having this insight can help you prepare targeted questions about the role you're interviewing for and ensure you ultimately qualify.
4. Consider how you want to answer certain interview questions
While employers ask a variety of job-specific questions during an interview, many ask some of the same general questions. Knowing how to answer some of these questions can help you craft a professional answer that highlights your expertise. Review both general and job-specific questions for the role you're interviewing for and consider how you want to answer these questions.
5. Practise your body language and speaking voice
To make a positive impression during the interview, work on improving your body language. Open body language can help you seem more approachable to interviewers and everyone you meet. In addition, practise a strong yet friendly speaking voice.
Consider performing in front of your family or friends or practising in front of a mirror. Focus on your posture, your smile and your handshake.
6. Consider what you want to ask the interviewer
At the end of an interview, the interviewer may ask if you have any questions for them. Consider what you want to ask ahead of time. Prepare several thoughtful questions that show that you did your research and highlight your genuine interest in the role and company.
7. Conduct mock interviews
Conducting a mock interview can help relieve anxiety and help you feel more confident about your qualifications. Ask a family member or a friend to hold a mock interview with you. Then, rehearse questions you want to practise answering and ask for feedback at the end of the mock interview.
You can also conduct a mock interview independently. Consider recording yourself so that you can watch it back, or try practising in front of a mirror. Use your performance to help you refine your answers for the real interview.
8. Print copies of your resume
Even if you submitted your resume online, print out a few hard copies for the day of the interview. Having hard copies to present to your interviewers shows that you're well-prepared.
While printing your resume, consider any employment gaps or discrepancies that may need further clarification. Rehearse your answers to potential questions to ensure the interviewer that there's nothing to worry about.
9. Organise your travel arrangements
The day before the interview, make sure you have everything you need for a smooth arrival. For example, save the interviewer's contact information, search for the location of the interview and plan your outfit ahead of time.
What are the top 10 questions asked in an interview?
When holding a mock interview, consider the questions your interviewer may ask you. Here are the top 10 questions asked during an interview:
- Tell me about yourself.
- What are your greatest strengths?
- What are your weaknesses?
- Why should we choose you for this position?
- Where do you see yourself in five years?
- Why do you want to work here?
- Why are you leaving your current position?
- What do you enjoy doing outside of work?
- How do you handle stress?
- What was your previous accomplishment in your last job?
What are the top 5 questions to ask an interviewer?
Some examples of questions you can ask an interviewer include:
- What does a typical day look like for a person in this position?
- Why do you enjoy working here?
- What qualities do your most successful employees have?
- I've really enjoyed learning more about this opportunity. What are the next steps in the hiring process?
- What does success look like in this position, and how do you measure it?
What are 5 tips for a successful job interview?
Use these five tips to help you have a successful interview:
Prepare a list of references. Prior to the interview, create a list of references in case your interviewer asks for it. Having this can help you move forward in the hiring process more quickly.
Provide examples of your work. An interviewer may ask you about specific work you've done in relation to the job you're interviewing for. Prepare what you want to say ahead of time and consider all of your relevant experiences and accomplishments.
Bring a notebook and pen. In addition to bringing hard copies of your resume, prepare to take notes in a small notebook during the interview. Having this information gives you something to refer to when writing a follow-up thank-you note.
Arrive early. Map out the route to the interview location ahead of time and consider practising your journey there. It also helps to come up with a backup plan regarding transportation for the day of the interview to ensure you arrive on time.
Stay positive. Being genuine during your interview can help you seem more approachable. Make sure to smile and use upbeat body language.
How can you make a good impression at a job interview?
Use these tips to make a lasting impression during a job interview:
- Wear appropriate attire. Review the company dress code and wear clothing that meets its standards. This can help you stay professional.
- Express your enthusiasm. Show your interviewer that you're genuinely passionate about the role and excited about the opportunity.
- Share a story. Instead of just stating your qualifications, share examples of what you achieved in your previous roles. This shows interviewers what you can do in a similar capacity or environment.