How to Prepare for an Interview

 Eight Steps: 

1. Research the company, industry & people

Even if you don't use The Ultimate Job Interview Research Workbook, make sure to invest time doing this and writing down what you learn.

Feel free to steal ideas from the "Look Inside" section of the Careerasaurus home page. 😈

Why write it down? Because research shows writing makes things easier to remember.

2. Break down the job posting

Either print the job posting or copy-paste it into a word processing document then highlight each and every element of the posting, in different colors. Even highlighting one item, then underlining the next, then highlighting the third, is fine. The idea is to separate each item, so you can address it in Step 3. below.

It's easy to miss things when they're bunched-together in paragraphs, so go through S-L-O-W-L-Y and make sure you understand all the responsibilities, requirements and nice-to-have items.

Keep in mind that not every "requirement" item is in fact required, 100% of the time.

3. Compare yourself against the job breakdown

Essentially, you are looking for areas where you're a perfect match for what they're looking for; where you may appear to fall short; and where you do, in fact, fall short.

If you don't have one already, write a list of all your skills, knowledge, experiences and qualities.

Don't limit "experiences" to jobs. Think of volunteering, activities and responsibilities with friends & family, and so on.

Now compare your education, experiences and capabilites with everything you highlighted in Step 2.

You want to be able to honestly demonstrate that you are quite capable of doing the job well, and that you're enthusiatic about doing it.

If you are dreadfully lacking in a specific area, consider enrolling in an online class that strengthens you as a candidate.
For example, if you have zero legal experience and that feels like a barrier they'll mention, imagine being able to respond with:
"I'm taking an online class in contract law through Coursera and Yale University."

4. Anticipate & answer their questions

Write down questions you imagine they might ask, then think about how you might answer them.

Here are some helpful resources:

IMPORTANT: Make sure you also think of questions specific to your background and their organization & industry.

5. Develop your thoughtful questions for them

This is an area where great preparation (such as using “The Ultimate Job Interview Research Workbook”) can really shine through.

If you really understand the industry, organization, history, competitors, product, services and people, your questions can not only showcase your hard work and enthusiasm, but actually open the eyes of the person you're interviewing with to insights, risks and opportunities.

There are also helpful questions to consider that don't require research, such as: "How could someone really succeed in this role and blow away your expectations?"


Careerasaurus - succeed at job interviews

6. Prepare examples of your work

If relevant to the job you are seeking (and not a breach of others' trust), prepare examples of your prior work.

This might even include recent school projects, if they're impressive.

Either make high-quality print outs or bring a laptop or tablet to show the work.

CAUTION: Often at the worst moments, technical problems arise, so make sure tyour batteries are fully-charged and that you can access what you'd like to show without an internet connection. A PDF or screenshot might have to suffice, or at least serve as a backup. Have everything in a single folder of PDFs, and have that folder open before your interview.

 
This Forbes article is worth reading: “12 Qualities Employers Look For When They're Hiring.”

7. Practice out loud

Use the Careerasaurus lingo and jargon search tool to identify those things.

Write them down, learn how to pronounce them (and the names of people, products, services & competitors) correctly, and practice saying them out loud, in full sentences, so they feel natural.

For example, restaurants have their own lingo. Someone interviewing for a host position is at a disadvantage if they're asked a question about a "deuce" and they don't know that it refers to a table that seats two people.

Avoid unnaturally dumping all the terminology you've learned into your conversations.

You want to be yourself, while also conveying that you are a natural "fit" and "in their world" already.

Don't memorize exactly what you're going to say, word-for-word.

Instead, get comfortable acrticulating the ideas and information you want to convey.

Practicing out loud will also burn-off nervous energy and help names, lingo and jargon feel familiar and natural.

TIP: To practice in a non-public place, try holding your phone up while you speak, as if you're having a conversation.

Consider having a friend ask interview questions, then sharing feedback on your answers. Most people should be able to judge whether your answers are clear and succinct.

Also, have a pleasant smile in your voice as you speak. A mild "one-quarter smile" is a good default when you're waiting or listening.

8. Confirm & get ready for the interveiw

At least a day beforehand, triple-check to be sure you have the right date, time and location (or Zoom info, etc.). Set alarms or alerts so you

If a video interview:
  • Get your lighting and microphone are all set and working well
  • Confirm that your background is neat, clean and appropriate
  • Have several pens and a pad of paper on hand to write notes
  • Have tissues and a glass of water nearby
  • Write out important points you want to remember and position them so they're easy to glance at
If an in-person interview:
  • Confirm how you'll get to the interview, as well as one alternate way to get there. Leave PLENTY of time in case problems arise, like road closures, accidents, or traffic. Just in case there's car trouble or a train line is diabled, leave time to hire a Lyft or borrow a car.
  • Confirm a day or two before that what you're planning to wear doesn't have a broken zipper or unsightly stain. plan a backup outfit, just in case.
  • Have all your documentation, work samples, ID, etc. organized and ready to go, in one secure spot.
  • Write out important points you want to remember and position them so they're easy to glance at

BONUS: During the Interview

Even though you're ready to go and really excited, AVOID cutting the other person off while they're speaking. Be as interested in them as you hope they are in you.

Trust yourself. By this time, you know they are interested enough to interview you and that you've worked hard to prepare. You don't need to pretend or "fool" them into hiring you. Simply convey what's important, in a friendly and professional manner, ask great questions, pay attention to the answers, and let the process go where it goes.

Maybe you and they are a fit for one another, or maybe not.

Time will tell.

Also

Make sure to write a thoughtful and personalized 'thank you' note to each person you speak with.

Best of luck!


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