The first hurdle is past–you’ve got the job interview scheduled. The next hurdle is the job interview itself. This is your chance to show a potential employer that you’re the best candidate for the job. Although that prospect can be nerve-racking, remember that this is also your chance to decide if the job is right for you. Preparing yourself for the interview using these tips will help you present your best face to the hiring committee come zero hour.
Do Your Research
Research the company or organization to which you’re applying. Read the annual reports, check out online forums and study the organization’s website. Learn who does what within the organization and, if possible, memorize names and roles. Examine the organization’s mission and vision statements. If no statements are available, try to discern what the organization is trying to do and what direction it’s going in. A job candidate who can talk knowledgeably with the hiring committee about the organization is highly competitive.
Learn the Job Inside and Out
Be clear on the scope of the job you’re applying for. Pore over the job description. Break it down in detail to learn what will be expected of the employee who fills the position. Learn the roles and responsibilities and the qualifications expected. Armed with this information, you can now start rehearsing what you’re going to say at the job interview.
Make a list of questions to ask at the job interview. Write down both specific and general questions. Your specific questions will demonstrate knowledge about the company, hint at what you have to offer the organization and show you are interested in gathering as much information as possible. Some possible specific questions include “You seem to operate as a team here. Do you encourage independent work, too?” “I understand the company has recently reorganized. Is this a brand new department?” “I have a lot of experience with the latest XX software. Will I be able to use that experience in the XX project?” Your general questions will cover the basics to give you a grasp of the information you’ll need to decide whether the job is right for you. Some possible general questions include “Where will I be working?” “What will I be doing?” “Can you describe a typical day in the office?” “What do you see as the benefits of working here?”
You never know what exact questions the hiring committee will ask you at the job interview. Still, the U.S. Department of Labor, in its job interview tips (see Resources section), suggests you anticipate having to answer, at any job interview, certain commonly asked questions. Prepare answers for questions such as “Why are you applying for this job in particular?” “Why do you think we should hire you?” and “Why do you want to work for this organization?” Be specific in your answers. Show how you can help the organization achieve its goals. Explain how you can contribute to its team. Share details of your experience and qualifications that make you a good candidate for the specific requirements of the job. You needn’t memorize your answers, but form a good idea of what you’re going to say when asked.
The Department of Labor also suggests you do a practice interview. Ask somebody you’re comfortable with to play the interviewer. Assemble everything you’ll need, from interview outfit to pen and paper to a copy of your resume or CV and portfolio. Give your pretend “hiring committee” a list of questions to ask you. Go through the entire interview uninterrupted. Then ask for feedback.