Your success in a job interview depends a great deal on how you prepare for it. Interview preparation primarily involves researching the job and the company and thoughtfully considering your answers to the interview questions. In addition to pre-interview preparation, there are certain aspects you should prepare for during and after the interview . In this article, we take a look at the steps involved in preparing for a job interview and some actionable tips to improve your chances of success.
How to prepare for a job interview: Pre-interview preparation
The following are some essential steps for pre-interview preparation:
1. Review the job description
Read the job description to thoroughly understand how the employer has described the position and the type of candidate they are looking for. Carefully review the keywords and key phrases the employer uses to describe their expectations. The more you can align your skills and qualifications with the job description, the better chances you stand to impress the interviewer. You may also get some clues from the job description about the questions the interviewer may ask.
2. Consider your eligibility for the job
Think about your qualifications and experience. Ask yourself why you should apply for that job and why the employer should hire you. Assessing how the job fits into your career path and what value you can add to the company will help you convince the interviewer about what makes you the best candidate for the position.
3. Learn more about the company
Get in-depth information about the company through its website, social media pages, employee reviews and other online sources. Find out about its mission, management, work culture, the types of products it offers and the types of clients it serves. Get some insight on its latest revenue, growth prospects and business plans. Most companies display information about the management on their "about us" page, employment-related information on their "careers" or "work with us" page and information for investors on their "investor relations" page.
Researching the company well will help you align your CV with its expectations. It will also help you answer questions about the firm during the interview. If you are familiar with the organization, you can also ask relevant questions to the interviewer, which will show your seriousness about the job. However, you need not go into technical details if you are applying for a non-technical position. The idea is to get a basic understanding of the company's line of business.
4. Prepare a list of expected interview questions
Make a list of common interview questions for the given position and frame thoughtful answers. Prepare impressive responses to questions that give you an opportunity to highlight your skills and interest in the job. In addition to position-specific questions, here are some common questions to include in your list:
- Tell me about yourself.
- Why are looking for a job change?
- Why do you want this job?
- What are your strengths and weaknesses?
- What motivates you?
- Where do you see yourself in five years?
5. Practice mock interviews
No matter how well you prepare, it is natural to feel anxious and overwhelmed at the time of the interview. Mock interviews can be a great help in this regard. They can create a real interview-like environment and help boost your confidence. Ask your friends or family to conduct a mock interview for you. Consider recording the entire process to analyse your performance. If you can't find anyone to play the interviewer, you can rehearse the interview in front of a mirror.
6. Organise your documents
You may have applied using a digital copy of your CV, but it always helps to keep hard copies of all your documents with you, just in case the interviewer needs them for easy access. Take a printout of your resume and cover letter. Put all the important documents including your mark sheets, certificates, ID proofs and photographs in a folder. If the HR has asked you to bring any particular documents like salary slips, relieving letter from previous employer or bank statement , be sure to keep them ready as well.
7. Update your social media profile
If you are on LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter or any other social media platform, make sure you have an updated profile. Employers often check your social media presence to get an idea about your personality and background. Search for your name in Google to see what results turn up. If there is anything unpleasant, prepare yourself for a response if the interviewer asks about it.
8. Make travel arrangements
Familiarise yourself with the location map that the company has sent you. You can also check directions to the venue using Google Maps. Based on the distance and the time it would take to commute, plan your timing and decide on the mode of transport. Have contact information of the HR department ready with you just in case you need any help locating the company.
9. Decide on your interview dress
Choose a formal dress that you would be wearing for the interview. Make sure the clothes are clean and wrinkle-free. If you plan to spray deodorant or perfume, make sure it is mild. Overall, plan for a neat and clean look with well-cut hair and shaved or trimmed beard.
How to prepare for a job interview: During the interview
Follow these steps to prepare for a job interview when you are at the interview venue:
1. Reach the location early
Reach the venue a few minutes before the schedule. It will give you some time to rest and relax. If it is a far-off location from your place and the journey has been tiring, you can use the extra time at hand to drink water, use the washroom or freshen yourself up. Reaching early helps reduce anxiety and gives time to mentally prepare for the interview.
2. Be polite
The way you hold yourself in the office tells a lot about you. Many companies use CCTV footage to analyse your personality. Sit patiently in a good posture while waiting for your turn. Be polite to the people you meet including the receptionist, security guard and other candidates.
3. Be mindful of your body language
Be firm and confident while speaking to the interviewer. You can start practising it the very moment you enter the company. Be mindful of your body language while interacting with the receptionist or HR executive. Pay attention to how you smile and greet them.
4. Ask thoughtful questions to the interviewer
Most interviewers would give you an opportunity to clarify your doubts and queries. Make mental notes during the interview to ask pertinent questions to the interviewer. If you have any doubts regarding the position, company or any other issue, you can get them clarified towards the end of the interview.
Read more: How to Introduce Yourself in an Interview
How to prepare for a job interview: After the interview
The following steps can help you after you have attended the interview:
1. Analyse your performance
After you come back from the interview, take out a few minutes to analyse how you performed and what areas could have been better. Ask yourself whether you forgot to mention something or whether you could have responded to any particular question in a better way. This will go a long way in improving your interview skills.
2. Inform your references
If you have given any references in your CV or in the job application, make sure you inform them so that they are not caught off guard when the HR calls them. Call up your references and tell them about the company and the position you have applied for. Let them know the skills and qualities you would like them to recommend you for.
3. Follow up with HR
If you do not get to hear from the company within the expected time, you should follow up with the HR department on the outcome of the interview. You can do so through phone or email. Irrespective of the mode you use, be sure to mention your name, position applied for, interview date, name of the interviewer and other relevant details to help the HR staff recall your meeting.
Interview preparation tips
Here are some actionable tips to improve your chances of success in a job interview:
- While you wait for your turn at the venue, switch off your mobile phone or put it on silent or vibration mode. If you need to take an urgent call, speak in a soft and low voice.
- Sit patiently in the waiting area. Loitering around in the office would give a negative impression.
- Be careful not to ask any personal questions to the interviewer, HR staff or the receptionist.
- Keep your answers short and focused.
- Always talk positively about your current or previous employer.
- Be honest if you do not know the answer to any question the interviewer asks. If you need some time to collect your thoughts, it is fine to pause and ask the interviewer for some time to think.