How To Prepare For Your Job Interview: 3 Essential Steps
If you’ve secured a job interview, give yourself a pat on the back because, believe it or not, this can be one of the most difficult parts of the job search. You’ve got your foot in the door, so now it’s time to get ready for your job interview.
Giving yourself as much time as possible, make sure you complete these three essential steps to prepare for your interview:
Use A Story Whenever You Can
A common style of interview question is the tell us an example of when you handle X or tell us about a time you handled a challenging situation at work.
Before blurting out a factually correct answer, take some notes from the novelists in the world. Show dont tell is the number one rule in any kind of fiction writing. And you can apply that to interview questions as well.
Instead of telling the interviewer what you did, try to show it instead. Illustrate a more detailed picture of the situation, the challenge, the steps you took, and then the result. This works with any type of question the interviewer asks, including the dreaded tell me about yourself, question.
A story, when told well, is the easiest way to deconstruct an answer and elevate yourself in the eyes of the interviewer.
Heres what to say in an interview when youre asked, Why do you want to work here?
Notice how different this is from what most people say in interviews. Its crisp and concise with no fluff and packed with details that are engaging and impressive.
Filter your responses to common interview questions through this step-by-step system and youll give the perfect answer every time.
If You Expect To Get The Job In Today’s Fast
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Prepare A List Of Questions
At some point during the interview, employers will likely ask if you have questions for them. This is your chance to show that you did proper research on the job and company, but also that you have the necessary background to ask the right questions. Most of your questions should focus on what your day-to-day activities will be and what growth opportunities you will have during your time with the company. These two topics will show that you want to integrate right away and you are aiming for long-term success.
How To Succeed At A Job Interview
Mastering a job interview typically requires preparation. Although every employer has slightly different methods of selecting and interviewing job candidates for a position, these tips can potentially increase your odds of doing well irrespective of the interview style and structure:
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How To Follow Up After A Job Interview
Whew. The interview is over, and you didn’t do anything too embarrassing! Now it’s time to follow up with a thank you.
Following up after your interview is a simple gesture, but it can go a long way. In fact, TopInterview’s sister site, TopResume, surveyed more than 300 U.S. employers about common job interview deal-breakers, and it revealed that 51 percent of those surveyed said receiving a thank-you email or mailed note after an interview impacts their hiring decision. Even more, six percent of employers said they’ve passed on a candidate who failed to follow up.
Also, following up is also the perfect time to ask any additional questions you may have after the interview is over, so it’s a win-win.
So when do you follow up after an interview? It’s best practice to follow up within 24 hours of your interview. You can send an email or mail a note. However, if the hiring process seems to be moving quickly, it’s best to use email.
In your job interview follow-up, you’ll want to:
Thank the interviewer for their time.
Reiterate your interest in the position and why you’re qualified.
Ask about the next steps, if you’re unsure. You can also include any additional questions you may have thought of after the fact.
Keep your email or note short and sweet. It’s also not a bad idea to throw in something more personalized that points back to your interview to differentiate yourself from the other candidates.
Here’s an example of a follow-up thank-you email:
Good afternoon Mike,
Have You Experienced Times In Your Career Where You Were Under A Lot Of Pressure And Had To Deal With Stress If So How Did You Cope
This is another behavioral question that interviewers like to ask, as they want to gauge your emotional intelligence. If you are applying for a job that involves a lot of pressure, an HR manager wants to know that you will be able to cope in stressful situations.
When answering this question, you should highlight the fact that you tend to take precautionary measures to prevent stress, such as using a rigid schedule, and that you also maintain a healthy lifestyle to counter stressors. However, you should also show how you manage stress if it does occur at work.
Example: I am generally a very organized and disciplined person. For instance, I create daily, weekly and monthly schedules and follow them to the hour. I also make sure that I exercise regularly and maintain a balanced diet, as I think a healthy lifestyle is effective in countering stress.
However, I know stressful situations can frequently occur at work. In my previous job, my project manager tended to trust and rely on me a lot. As I saw this as a compliment, I did not want to decline any tasks she gave me. After several months of this, I realized I wasnt coping well with the pressure and my performance was declining.
I called a meeting with her and explained how I felt. She was very understanding and said she thought I was coping as I continued to agree to the extra work she was giving me. This experience taught me the value of honest and open communication in the workplace.
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Examples Of Final Interview Questions And Answers
To assist you in your preparations for your final interview, here are a few examples of the types of questions you might expect during the interview and how to answer them effectively:
Practice Common Interview Questions
Before the interview, read through common questions and prepare answers. Even if your interview does not include all of the most frequently asked questions, considering your answers gives you a chance to review your experience, qualifications and goals. Taking this step also allows you to identify specific examples so that you can mention them readily during the interview.
For example, you can consider your answers to personal questions like How would you describe yourself? and What are your greatest strengths and weaknesses? You can also think about job-specific questions like Why do you want to work here? and Why should we hire you?
You may also consider researching what questions are common for the specific role or company youre interviewing with. These questions can help you anticipate what this company expects or what prospective employers need to know about candidates for specific positions. Practice your answers to these questions to ensure you are prepared for a variety of general, company- and role-specific questions. This preparation can lead to a stronger connection with your interviewer.
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Put Together Your Interview Toolkit
Dont leave bag-packing to the last minute. Prepare your interview toolkit the night before the big day:
- Tissues or a handkerchief
- Copies of your resume and work samples
- Breath mints
- Bottle of water
- Directions including address, parking information, suite or office number, floor number, and contact information including name and phone number
- Note paper and pen to take notes
Prepare Some Good Questions
Job interviews are scary. By the end of the ordeal, you’re probably thinking that the last thing you want to do is drag on the experience with more questions.
However, asking good questions that demonstrate your knowledge and interest in the job is exactly what you have to do in order to demonstrate your interest and engagement.
Because it’s often impossible for some people to think up informed questions on the spot, write some down beforehand. Rehearse them a bit, if that makes you feel more comfortable.
How Do You Handle Stress
This is another common behavioral interview question, so you should walk through a situation where you’ve had to handle stress. It’s also beneficial to make a list of your soft skills and think about how you use them in stressful moments. Stay focused on your positive actions not your negative emotions. Also, be careful not to deny your stress everyone gets stressed out at work, so it’ll seem unrealistic and not genuine.
Sample answer:I was recently assigned a last-minute project. Instead of panicking, I took a few moments to outline a schedule and map out my game plan before I got to work. I made sure to communicate my progress with my manager so they could stay in the loop. If any problems came up, I communicated them so we could troubleshoot and continue to make progress. I was able to complete the project on time, and the client was thrilled and signed on to spend another $50,000 with us.
Speak Clearly Finish Strongly
Speak as clearly as possible, and dont undersell yourself by using maybe words such as just, like, and maybe. Use strong verbs that clarify your work, such as implemented, improved, and motivated.
At the end of the interview, ask whether there is anything more the interviewer would like to know, OConnor said. Then confirm your interest in the position and articulate why it appeals to you.
Owen also advised asking interviewers about their careers and why they enjoy working for the company. After all, you need to know this, too, he said.
Tim Cooper is a freelance writer based in the UK. To comment on this article or to suggest an idea for another article, contact Neil Amato, an FM magazine senior editor, at .
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The Anatomy Of A Great Answer
The best interviewers follow three guidelines when crafting their answers:
Let’s break each of these down and then I will consolidate them in a sample answer for you.
Tell A Story
Science has shown us that people tend to resonate more with facts that are told in the context of a story. It’s the same reason that you’re more likely to remember historical events told through a gripping movie than via a boring textbook.
Great stories start with a hook. For example, your answers could lead with:
Our client was threatening to cancel the deal
Less than 24 hours before the deadline, the system shut down
We realize we only had 3 months worth of funding left
Your opening should trigger a sense of urgency in the listener and make them both anxious and excited to hear the next sentence. As you continue, try to be concise and clear. The experts at Hired recommend keeping answers to around 90 seconds total.
You want to make sure to include specific metrics and results in your answers. By doing this, you’re illustrating the exact value the employer can expect to receive if they choose to hire you. It’s also a huge advantage because most people simply don’t do it.
Anticipate & Handle Objections
If you believe your interviewer has a reason to doubt your ability , you want to address that in your answer.
Example of a Great Interview Answer
Interview Preparation Bonus: Create A Value
If you truly want to knock the socks off of your potential employer, I always recommend putting together a Value Validation Project as part of your interview preparation.
This tactic is a core tenant of my overarching job search philosophy. It starts with getting information around a company or hiring manager’s challenges, upcoming initiatives, and goals. Next, you do some research based on the info they gave you and build out a deliverable that adds value against the challenge, initiative, or goal.
The best way to leverage this is to save it for the end of your interview, right when the interviewer begins to close things out:
Interviewer: Great, it was wonderful to meet you, is there anything else I can answer before we go?
You: Actually, there is one more thing. I spoke to a few people who work at and did a bit of research on my own. I know that the company is facing some challenges around customer experience. I actually headed up a project at my previous company that focused on tearing down our CX funnel and rebuilding it from the ground up. I went ahead and put together a few ideas that worked for us, as well as the methodology behind them. No need to look through them now, but I’d be happy to chat in more detail if you’d like. Thanks so much for taking the time to meet with me!
This is your interview mic drop.
If the interview went well, this is the nail in the coffin that will seal the deal. If the interview was a little bumpy, this can save you.
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Show Knowledge To Get Knowledge
This is an advanced technique that refers to the ability not only to have good questions prepared for the interviewer but also to show that you are well informed through your questioning, OConnor said. Use lines like through my research I noticed and experience in your market leads me to believe that , he said.
How Do You Get A Job Interview
Before you get invited to a job interview, you typically have to apply for the job first. You can find available positions on job-search websites and apps, where you’ll need to fill out the online application and attach your resume and sometimes a cover letter.
Your resume is arguably the most integral part of your job application, so take all the necessary steps to make your resume as strong as possible by updating your resume format, quantifying your achievements, tailoring it to the job description, and proofreading.
You can also take a few additional steps to help your chances of getting noticed by updating your LinkedIn profile and showing off your personality in your cover letter. If you’ve applied to a number of jobs with no luck, it might be time to get a professional resume rewrite.
Additionally, if you already , set your status to Open to opportunities. Recruiters will then know to reach out with any opportunities that fit your experience. If you’re interested, you can respond to the interview offer from the recruiter by thanking them for reaching out and letting the recruiter know your availability.
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What Is Your Greatest Weakness
Having to reveal what you consider your greatest weakness to a potential employer can feel daunting, but it’s a common interview question so it’s best to be prepared. Your answer should be honest not just a strength disguised as a weakness, like I care too much. This shows an interviewer you can identify your weaknesses AND are willing to take steps to counter them.
Sample answer:That is a great question. To be honest, I tend to put deadlines and work goals ahead of people sometimes. For example, in the past two years, I’ve noticed myself becoming tense and inflexible when my team members are unable to deliver their reports on time. I usually enjoy a good rapport with my team, so those instances really stood out for me.
As I reflected on what was happening, I realized that my abruptness and lack of flexibility were actually causing a rift between me and the rest of the team. As a deadline approached, even the people who would typically come into my office to share an issue or a challenge would begin to avoid me. That was not constructive, so I sought out some guidance from my manager.
As we talked about this, I realized that I was treating all deadlines as equally urgent when in fact they were not. In a way, I was creating a lot of urgency and pressure in my own mind and that was translating into more pressure for my team. I wanted to change this dynamic, and with my mentor’s help, I implemented two changes.