Instant Impact Career Advice: Preparing for an Interview

Do you have an upcoming interview planned in the next two, four or seven days?

Perhaps you are planning on getting that all important phone call, the one that says, “We want you!”

Whether you plan on having a phone interview or a face-to-face with a hiring manager, it is important that you prepare properly so you can ace your interview and make a great impression with the interviewer and company you desperately want to work with.

Here are 7 key interview preparation steps to follow to make sure that you are ready for your interview. Use these steps to make sure that you get noticed by a hiring manager, and to ensure that the hiring manager that interviews you really believes that you are a good match for their company.

Person Holding Hire Me Sign in Crowd

7 Pre-Interview Preparation Steps

1. Avoid distractions. If you plan on meeting with success, your first step is to avoid distractions. Many people plan too many things in advance of their job interview. Some candidates go as far as running marathons or planning doctor’s appointments before their job interview. If you plan to set yourself up for failure, then go ahead and run the Boston Marathon just before your job interview. This is probably NOT the way to land a job. If you want to succeed in interviewing, you’ll do better by avoiding too many distractions before your job interview.

A good candidate is going to clear their schedule just before an interview. You need to take time and realize that you are hunting for work in a competitive market. The appeal of looking for a job is knowing that you are doing so in an environment that is distraction free. So clear your schedule the night before and the morning before your interview. Focus on the company you plan to interview with.

2. Learn about the company inside out. A candidate that knows nothing about the company they plan to interview with is not going to make a good impression. If you want to gain brownie points with an interviewer, then spend a good amount of your preparation time learning about the company mission statement, top management team, and the role you will play as an employee. Find out what the basic details are about the company you plan to interview with.

One of the first questions most interviewers ask is, “Do you know what we do?” Don’t shoot back with, “No, tell me.” That is going to put you in the dog house within the first five minutes of your interview. If you really want to make a good impression, read the corporate business plans, and look at the annual reports. This will keep you abreast of the latest company news, so you can have an intelligent conversation with the person that is interviewing you.

3. Research top executives and key people in the organization. Along with understanding basic corporate details, you should know who some of the top executives are in the company. It also helps to know who is interviewing you. Find out if that person is a Human Resources Manager, company CEO, or general hiring manager. This will help you learn where your place is in the company. You will also want to get a business card from the person that you interview with so that you can send a follow-up after the interview.

4. Practice! The best interviewees are those that take time to practice their interviewing technique. If you haven’t already, take time to practice what you plan to say during the interview. Review some of the most basic interviewing questions, including, “Why should we hire you?” Think back to your past experiences and come up with examples of times that you have overcome challenging work situations. This will help you prepare for your job interview. If you need to, write down examples of specific instances where you have used the duties required in the job description, so you can answer questions related specific to the job tasks.

5. Review the job description. The odds are good that the hiring manager or interviewer will ask you questions that are related to the job description. Make sure that you can provide answers related to the specific job description and your area of expertise. Many interview questions are behavioral in nature. If you can think back over your work experience and dig up answers and examples related to your unique experiences, you will make a good and lasting impression.

6. Review your resume. The employer interviewing you will probably want to review your work history. If you have trouble remembering pertinent dates, bring a copy of your resume along for your personal reference, as well as a fresh copy along for the hiring manager or interviewer to follow along with. Be sure to have explanations ready for any gaps in employment.

7. Dress exceptionally well. Plan what you will wear for your interview the day before. Do not wait until the last minute to find a solid outfit to wear. Do not wear something outrageous that stands out. You don’t want to shine in that way. It pays to check in with the company and find out what the corporate culture is like. If the company atmosphere is very formal, then you should plan to dress formally. If the culture is business casual, you may have an opportunity to dress more casually, but still dress professionally.

Many an interview has been lost over the type of dress a job candidate has worn during an interview. Make sure that your clothing is pressed and tidy, and without stains. Ladies, do not overdo the perfume or makeup. If you need a haircut, then get one the day before. Avoid wearing too many accessories, as this can distract from your presentation, and make you seem a bit flamboyant.

The Mind Game of Interview Preparation

Often a lot of preparing for an interview starts in the mind. If you psyche yourself up and convince yourself that you are the best candidate for the job, then you will walk into an interview feeling confident, and secure.

Don’t let nerves get the best of you when preparing for an interview. Remember that you are interviewing a potential employer as much as they are interviewing you. Remain confident and secure in your ability to present your talents, skills and experiences to a potential employer. Don’t forget to smile and offer the hiring manager a firm handshake. By following these tips and guidelines, you are sure to make a solid impression, and land an excellent job.

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