Job interviews may seem daunting. Here’s everything you need to prepare for them the right way.
Written by JoAnna Mak, Peer Career Educator
When it comes to the job search, receiving an interview is only half the battle. Here’s five ways to safeguard your spot on a company’s roster.
1. Prepare responses. Preparing for interviews will keep intelligent answers rolling off your tongue, bolstering your confidence and reducing anxiety. You may not be able to know exactly what will be asked, but it’s easy to anticipate common interview questions, some of which may catch you off guard if you don’t have a response in mind. Some common questions include:
- Tell me about yourself
- Why do you want this position, and why are you a good fit?
- Tell me about a time when you had to work in a team, or entertain a difficult customer.
- What are your strengths?
- What is your greatest weakness, and how are you working to overcome it?
Behavioral interview questions are those that will ask for times when you worked on a stressful project, had to problem-solve or used extensive time management. Keep a list of examples for all the big tasks you’ve worked on, and be sure to emphasize the results of your actions. It’s also helpful to know what qualifications the position requires, as this will help you stress how you’re a great match for those skillsets.
2. Clear your head. Keep the hour before an interview free of any stressful obligations – whether it’s your upcoming orgo exam or scheduling a dinner for your friend’s birthday. Instead, use this time to review your prepared responses and double-check that everything is in place. Did you print your resume? Does the color of your jacket match your slacks?
3. Come prepared with at least one strong question. At the end of any interview, you’ll always be asked if you have any questions for the interviewer. A great question can speak volumes for your interest in the position, which leaves the interviewer with positions feelings regarding your performance. One caveat: make sure you actually care about the answer to the question. It’s easy for interviewers to discern if you seem disinterested.
4. Gauge the style(s) of interview questions being used and adjust accordingly. Many large corporations may have more informal interviews. They will sit you down with a current employee, who will ask you casual questions to see if you’re a good fit with their company culture. Others may conduct behavioral interviews, which ask about your past actions. Employers also use case interviews, which presents a problem for you to resolve. You will be evaluated based on the quality of your solution to the problem.
Most interviews you attend will use a mix of these styles. If an interview appears more informal, feel free to initiate small talk and find common ground (an easy way to do this is to include your interests in your introduction or resume). If your interviewer fields you behavioral questions from a list while vigorously jotting down your answers, stick to impressing them with your confident tone and vibrant examples.
5. Expressing gratitude can go a long way. My friend’s supervisor admitted that she got the job because she was the only one to send a “thank you” note after interviews were conducted. Send a follow-up email 24-48 hours after the interview, and include several details from your conversation. Be sure to add why you would be a great fit, and thank them for their time.
Preparing for interviews is half the marathon. All that’s left is to go in and finish the race – and don’t hesitate to reward yourself for successfully completing an interview.