How to Prepare for an Interview

Job interviews are an inevitable part of the hiring process, but for many job seekers, the initial interview is the most terrifying part of the job hunt. Don’t worry, it’s perfectly normal to feel nervous when meeting with your potential future employer for the first time. We’re here to help you overcome your fear and show up to the interview relaxed and prepared. Whether you’re meeting with the hiring manager next week or you’re on the hook for a last minute interview tomorrow morning, make sure you’ve researched the company and nailed these five things:

 1.   Deeply understand the job description.

Your interviewer is going to assume that you’ve read and fully understand the job description. Make sure you’re able to speak with authority about the position they’re hiring for and how your own experiences align. If there are places where their job post is confusing, add it to your list of questions to ask in your interview. (For example, "I see here in the job description you're asking about ALMGS. I'm sorry, I don't know what those initials stand for. Would you mind explaining that to me?") Some job descriptions are going to be company-specific, so it’s ok to ask clarifying questions to the hiring team in the interview (or to your recruiter before you sit down with the hiring team!) to learn more about what they’re looking for and validate that you have the skills to do the job.

 2.   Look into the hiring team.

Often times your recruiter or the hiring manager will give information about who you’ll be meeting with. If they give you names in advance, don’t be afraid to look them up on LinkedIn and connect. Take a peek at their social profiles to distinguish what caliber of human you are going to be meeting with during your interview. What are their titles? What are their areas of expertise? Making a connection with them on LinkedIn demonstrates your enthusiasm; it shows that you want to know more about the company, the role, and their team. Plus, that you’re willing to do your research.

 3.   Review your resume.

If it's been a while since you've looked at your resume, make sure you read it again. Reflecting on the key experiences, skills, and positions that are called out on your resume can help you prepare for some of the specific questions the interviewer may ask. Make sure you know the details of what you sent them (and often times what is in front of them during the interview) so that you are presenting a unified front.

 4.   Practice common interview questions.

Research and practice a few of the most common interview questions. Interviewers often have a handful of behavioral questions in their back pocket ready to ask that start with "tell me about a time when…” Prepare yourself by thinking about specific scenarios, experiences, and examples where you’ve both faced challenges and been successful. For unbiased feedback and advice, try reciting your responses to someone who doesn't know you that well. Practicing the interview out loud with a recruiter is a great way to improve your skills and gain insight into what hiring teams look for.

 5.   Ease your nerves.

It's okay to be nervous about the interview. Just remember, the people across the table from you are human: they also had to interview for their job, so they're going to expect (and hopefully forgive) a certain level of nervousness. Sometimes they’re even just as nervous as you are! Calm your nerves by arriving early and securing a parking spot. Go for a quick walk, roll your shoulders, and take deep breaths… or sit in your car and listen to a little bit of music or talk radio. Before you head into the interview, take a moment to relax your mind. Don’t worry about last minute prep—just take a beat to clear your head, calm down, and unwind. Remember, your interviewers aren’t going to be judging you on your interviewing skills—they are looking to deeply understand who you are, your experiences, and how you can get their job done. They're not hiring a professional resume writer or interviewer. They're looking to hire you and they want to know who you are. Prepare yourself to put your best foot forward in the interview by calming your nerves, practicing common questions, and doing your research—you don’t want to show up to an interview with AAA, the roadside assistance company, and think you’re talking to the experts on AAA batteries!

Need help prepping for your next big interview? Contact a recruiter at VanderHouwen today for in-depth expertise on job hunting, interviewing, and landing your next position.