3 Things You Need to Know Before a Job Interview
The job market is tough. It can be difficult to find the right opportunities for your skill set and career goals, and even when you do, you’re probably competing against hundreds of other qualified candidates. It’s not unusual for people to spend months sifting through endless, vague job postings and sending out countless applications before getting a solid lead. This frustrating process of wait-and-see leaves many candidates burnt out and unprepared when they finally get an interview.
It’s crucial to do thorough preparation for a job interview since it can make or break your chances of landing an employment offer. You should feel confident walking into it, which you can only achieve by preparing carefully.
To prepare for a job interview, you can do simple things such as picking an outfit that’s comfortable and appropriate, figuring out a route to get to the meeting early (or setting up a clean, comfortable space if it’s a virtual call), and practicing your answers to common interview questions in the mirror or on camera. Going further, you can set up a mock interview with an expert, who will give you constructive feedback and help you feel more confident in your communication skills.
Being well-prepared and having confidence can take you far in a job interview—in fact, if you don’t prepare and don’t feel confident, it’ll be hard to succeed, especially in the face of all the competition. However, it’s also important to understand how employers think and how the hiring process works. After all, this is who you’re trying to win over, so understanding their perspective is extremely valuable.
Being aware of what the interviewer is looking for will help guide your answers, questions, and overall interview strategy, giving you an invaluable leg up in the race. Indeed, it’s not just about skills—it’s also about strategy.
So, what do you need to know before your job interview?
1. Know how the hiring process works
Each organization’s hiring process is unique, and it’s important that you, as an applicant, are aware of what it will entail for any given position. How many rounds of interviews will there be? How long can you expect the entire process to last? How many candidates are you competing against? Will there be any type of test or presentation?
If you can’t find the answers to these questions beforehand, don’t feel shy about asking them during your first interview. It’s not “cheating” to ask questions about the interview process—in fact, not only will it show interest and a proactive attitude on your part, but it’ll also give you valuable answers about what you can expect moving forward.
Rereading the job description and any other materials the recruiter has sent you is a great way to gather information about the company, the interview process, and the role you’ve applied for. It’s also an effective strategy for coming up with questions to ask during your first interview.
You should always have a few on hand—asking questions signals enthusiasm, engagement, and interest. However, the questions should be about the company, its culture, its goals, and other elements related to the job, not things like salary or benefits, which may indicate that you have the wrong motivation for pursuing this opportunity. Showing interest in the company and the way the hiring process works by asking questions will highlight your enthusiasm for the job and can help you stand out from the crowd.
2. Know the employer
Researching your potential employer is one of the most important things to do before a job interview. Thorough pre-interview research serves multiple purposes, among them helping you determine whether working for this company truly aligns with your career goals.
Knowing the company well will also do wonders for you during the interview. Demonstrating knowledge about the organization not only shows your interest in learning more about it but also proves that you truly want to work there and that you care about what it’s doing. Employers prefer less qualified candidates who are passionate about the job over more qualified ones who are apathetic to their duties, and research is a great way to demonstrate your enthusiasm.
Explore the company’s official website and social media channels; check out what its employees, customers, and clients say about it; and search for any press releases or articles. This is also an excellent way to come up with more questions about its plans and objectives, research its finances, and learn about your opportunities for growth within the company.
Your research can be fairly broad in nature—you want a solid overall grasp of the organization and its values, as well as a feel for how you can fit in.
3. Know how to sell yourself
In a job interview, you’re playing the role of a salesperson, the product being yourself. At the end of the day, an interview is your chance to sell your skills and experience and land the position, and it’s important you learn how to do it without coming off as arrogant or pushy. It’s a fine line to walk, but it’s crucial—if you lack confidence in yourself, the employer isn’t likely to have much confidence in you, either. On the other hand, if you seem overconfident, you’re bringing an energy that most employers don’t want on their team.
First of all, make sure you know your resume by heart so you’re not struggling to answer when you’re asked how long you worked somewhere or why you left your last job. Even if you know the answers to these questions, it’s easy for your mind to go blank when you’re under pressure, so consciously memorizing your resume and practicing even basic factual interview questions like this can be extremely useful.
The interviewer will ask a lot of questions about your job history, and you should be prepared to answer them honestly. Obviously, you always want to present yourself in a positive light, but even if the cold facts aren’t fully in your favor, the way you frame information and the attitude with which you present it can make a big difference.
Practice highlighting your achievements and managing questions about your losses to focus on the positives, and don’t forget about your soft skills, which are crucial for a healthy work environment. Stay mindful of the energy you’re projecting as well—you want the employer to see you as a strong, confident, professional, and polite candidate who understands their own strengths and weaknesses.
Look at a job interview as a chance to show what you can offer the company and what fresh perspectives you can bring to the role by tailoring your experiences to its needs. Be ready to talk about yourself, your goals, and your expectations. No matter how you feel about yourself and your qualifications, it’s important to adopt the right mindset and demeanor as these seemingly minor details can make the difference between getting the job and being passed over.
If you’re still looking for employment, you already know that fixing up your resume and LinkedIn profile, browsing job boards, writing cover letters, and rehearsing interview questions can feel like a full-time job if you don’t have any help. Luckily, our team of experts is here to guide you through the entire process and help you boost your chances of getting hired. Check out our professional services for job success and take the next big step in your career today!