You scanned through hundreds of job postings, you sent tons of resumes, and now you’ve finally got that interview! But the difficult part starts here: we all know that there isn’t anything more anxiety-inducing than a job interview. The anxiety works against you, before and during the interview. So to raise your odds of success and to sedate the anxiety, the best thing you can do is to prepare yourself carefully, because in this way you’re going to grow in self-confidence and to maximize your chances. Here are some practical real-world tips on how to prepare for a job interview.
Carefully read the job description and do some research
This is a typical mistake that many candidates commit: not accurately reading the job description and arriving unprepared for the interview. A job description, even more so if it’s written with care, already contains a lot of information about the company, the job and the profile they’re looking for and it gives you precious hints about the questions that they could ask you. You should arrive feeling confident in your knowledge of what the company does, its culture, its structure, objectives, recent successes, its competitors, its financials, even its executive team. This will give you a competent personal allure, one that is already expert in the company’s field. Doing your research will not only give you an advantage in answering questions but will help you feel confident in yourself before even entering the room.
How to dress for an interview
First impressions are really important here! So it’s a good idea to have some job interview outfits ready that are suited to various occasions (the outfit should change whether the position is inside a very formal traditional company or on the contrary a young, informal web agency). In any case your outfit should be clean, freshly pressed and should be something you feel comfortable in. Women should not overdo makeup or jewellery while men should check to have all the right accessories and shoes and not wear an aftershave too strong or persistent. In any case, better to be too smart than too casual. Very important: prepare your attire the night before so as not to be late!
The tell me about yourself question
This is a tricky question, because it is like your outfit: it gives a first impression of you to the interviewer and in today’s hyper competitive job market it’s essential that it is positive. Since it is quite common that the interviewer asks you to introduce yourself, it’s better that you practice in advance, planning what you are going to say “just in case”. Adapt your answer to the audience (you researched the company, remember?). Start speaking about what you are doing now, then move to your past experiences (and how they are relevant for the position, but do not recite your resume by heart!) and finally explain why you applied for the position. Keep it positive and do some practice, alone or with a friend. Introduce yourself in a brilliant yet professional way and you’ll have a better chance to stand out.
The do’s and don’ts
While it’s true that every interview is unique, it’s also true that there are certain things that always repeat and other things that can lead to certain fail or success. Let’s see some do’s and don’ts of job interviews:
- Remain calm, keep your hands visible and be sure they and your entire body language transmit self-confidence. When you are introduced, shake hands firmly, smile and keep eye contact.
- Study and remember the details of your cv and of your professional experience, without learning them by heart! Prepare a reference list and print and bring with you some hard copies of your cv.
- Emphasise your achievements and how they are relevant to the position you’ve applied for.
- Pay attention to what the interviewer says and ask appropriate questions (they demonstrate interest)
- Don’t be late! This is most important.
- Don’t dress in a less than appropriate way.
- Don’t show and/or reveal your weaknesses, especially if not asked to.
- Don’t fail to do research, understand the company, its achievements, its culture and so on.
Remember to remain calm, prepare appropriately and practice your answers in advance. Following these simple rules will help you to overcome your fear of job interviews and set you on the path to finding your dream job.