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Interview Tips

How To Prepare For A Job Interview

Getting ready for the job interview is one of the most important steps you can take toward securing a new position. The interview is your chance to shine. It allows you to show your value and expertise, and to connect with the company through the interviewer. How do you improve your chances of giving a great interview and winning the job? One word: PREPARATION.

The biggest difference between a good and bad interview is how well you've prepared. The more research you put in beforehand, the better your chances of having a great interview. You have three goals for an interview:

  1. Demonstrate that you're really interested in working for the company.
  2. Show that you'd be a good fit for the position and that you can contribute to the company.
  3. Get an offer – or at least get invited back for the next round of interviews.

If you take care of goals 1 and 2, goal 3 will happen by itself.

How To Prepare

There are three parts to preparing for a job interview:

  1. Learn about the company. When reviewing their information, keep an eye out for areas where you can contribute with your unique expertise or special experience. Study their website, including any press releases you find there. Search for recent articles and postings about the company. Look up the person or people who'll be interviewing you, if you can get their names ahead of time. Research key people in the company so that you know who they are, what they do, and a little about their backgrounds.
  2. Get some background on the industry. For example, if you're applying for a programming job at a financial services company, a little research on the financial industry will help you learn some of the common terms used and the tools you'd most likely work with. Your prospective employer has competitors. Find out who these companies are and research what they're doing.
  3. Understand how your role in this job – and any job you might grow into at this company – will fit into the mission and operations. What are the best ways that your background and experience will complement what the company is doing? Know and be able to explain how you can personally contribute to the company’s goals and success. This is possible no matter what the position. For example, if you're applying for a receptionist job, you can reference your background as a cheerleader, Wal-Mart greeter, standup comic, or waitperson to show that you know how to relate to people, bring a cheery attitude to your work, and handle stressful situations. These skills would make you a terrific first point of contact as you welcome the company's customers, clients, and guests.

Here are a few things to look for in yourself as you prepare for your job interview:

  • Expertise in an area critical to the company
  • Knowledge that would give them an edge over their competitors
  • Experience in something that they're now undertaking or soon will
  • Connections with key people in relevant disciplines and sectors
  • Skills that the company lacks or needs in greater abundance

Show how you can contribute by focusing on the value and benefits that you'll provide. Translate your experience, knowledge, and abilities into advantages that your prospective employer will gain by hiring you. Match your qualifications with the company’s interests and objectives. This is one of the most effective ways to make your interview a success.


Showing Interest

Something that sets people apart when they are being interviewed is looking interested and engaged in what the company is doing. Doing the research mentioned above will give you something to talk about. The best way to look interested in what the interviewer says is to actually be interested. That means really listening instead of thinking about what you're going to say next. If you're busy planning your own side of the conversation, you're less likely to connect with the interviewer and more likely to miss what he or she is saying or asking. Detachment is always obvious. If you stay relaxed and pay attention, you don’t have to worry about what to say. The right words will come.


More Tips

These last few tips might seem obvious, but they contribute to a successful interview:

  • Maintain good posture
  • Smile
  • Be yourself
  • Be honest – don’t exaggerate or invent things
  • Practice interviewing with a colleague or friend beforehand

Prepare well, demonstrate your value, pay attention, and everything will go well. Good luck!