Whether you’re looking for your first big job out of college or are considering a career change, it’s important to be prepared for what can sometimes be a grueling hiring process.
The first step is attracting the attention of your ideal employers, which can be accomplished with a great résumé, some solid networking, and a little persistence. (Remember, not every company you apply to will call you in for an interview, so you’ll want to bring your A-game for those that do.)
Once you’ve done the legwork and secured an interview, you’ll want to be as prepared as possible to make a great impression. You’ll have at least one (usually multiple) interviews with each company interested in you.
The best way to confidently sell a potential employer on your value is with thorough preparation. The more prepared you are the more confident you’ll be. This can also help alleviate some of the anxiety that can come with the interview process.
Here are six essential steps to preparing for your interview:
1. Get familiar with the job description and match it to your qualifications
Before you go into an interview, you need to know the ins and outs of what would be required of you in that job. Don’t wait until the last minute to do a quick re-read of the job description — spend a few days with it and let what it says sink in. (If there are things that don’t make sense or you have additional questions about the role, those are great things to jot down and ask your interviewers.)
As you read the job description, go line-by-line and write down your qualifications for each of the job responsibilities. Match up your expertise to what the role requires, so that when you’re asked about your experience, you can hit those points and wow the interviewer.
2. Do your homework and (really) learn about the company
The candidate who gets the job you’re interviewing for will have done more than just read the company’s “about us” page. Take the time to truly understand what they do and how they’ve made an impact in their space.
Use your internet sleuthing skills to learn about the company’s market, its competitors, and any big recent news. You can also dig into LinkedIn to see what kinds of things the company and its employees post about, to get a feel for the culture. You can even see if you’re connected to anyone who has worked on the team you’re applying to and ask them for some tips as you prepare.
3. Practice your answers to the questions you may be asked
There’s no way to know exactly what you’ll be asked in an interview, but there are some standard questions you can prepare for ahead of time. Practicing how you’ll respond will help you sound more confident and reduce the number of “ums” and “let me thinks” you’ll need to use.
Here are a few questions to be prepared for:
- Can you tell me about yourself?
- What do you know about the company?
- What interested you about this role?
- What are some of your strengths?
- What are some of your weaknesses?
- Tell me about conflicts you’ve faced at work.
- Why should we hire you?
4. Plan your outfit ahead of time to look the part
Worrying about what to wear the morning of an interview can create unnecessary stress. While your clothes shouldn’t be a factor in whether or not you’re qualified for the job, feeling good in what you wear can help you feel more confident and let your personality shine through.
Plan your outfit ahead of time and make sure it’s clean and pressed before the big day. Try to match the dress code of the company you’re interviewing with, but err on the side of dressing more professionally.
For example, if you’re interviewing at a tech company where everyone wears jeans and t-shirts, you can look the part by wearing a nice pair of jeans and a blazer. If you’re going to a company with a business professional dress code, opt for a suit.
5. Make sure your résumé is in good shape and bring hard copies
Your résumé should always be kept up-to-date when you’re in the process of looking for a job. That way, it’s ready at a moment’s notice when someone requests it, and you don’t have to scramble to get it updated.
Review your résumé regularly and always check for any grammatical errors or typos. (Tools like Grammarly are great for catching errors and will even give you suggestions to improve your content.) You should also have different versions of your résumé to match different types of jobs you’re applying to.
Even though your interviewers may have a digital copy of your résumé, you should always bring along some hard copies printed on good quality paper. (Have extras for any additional people you may meet with unexpectedly.)
6. Have your list of (good) questions ready
You should go into every interview with a list of questions that demonstrate your curiosity and interest in the company and role. As mentioned above, the job description is a great place to source these questions. You’ll also likely generate some during your research of the company.
Make sure your questions are specific and speak to what you truly want to learn about the job. Remember, the interview isn’t just about impressing a potential employer, it’s also a chance for you to see if the role is really a good fit for you or not.
Some of your questions will likely get answered during the interview, so make sure you have a long enough list to have some good ones left to ask at the end. It’s better to have more questions prepared than you need than not enough.
Get more interview tips on MyAKPsi
Keep leveling up your professional development with Alpha Kappa Psi. Student and alumni members can get additional interview tips and other professional development materials on MyAKPsi.