How to Prepare for an Interview
Congratulations! You made it to the interview stage.
Thorough preparation is critical if you are going to ace your interview.
Interviewing is not only your chance to show a potential employer your best traits, it is also an opportunity to learn valuable information that will help you decide if the job is something you want.
In this article, we'll guide you through the basic steps to preparing for an interview.
Research the Company
There's nearly unlimited access to information about most companies online.
Having a solid understanding of the company when you go into the interview will show that you are serious about the position.
Where to look for information:
- Thoroughly read the company’s website and social media pages.
- Read recent press releases or news articles about the company to gauge their stability and growth potential.
- Read reviews on sites such as Glassdoor.
Learn more about the company before your interview to show you are prepared and interested.
The minimum you need to know about the company:
- What services or products do they offer?
- Who do they serve? / market to?
- What is the mission statement?
Additional information to research:
- Who are some of their top competitors in the market?
- Think about your values, and research the company accordingly. Is company culture important to you? Is community involvement important?
Prepare Based on Your Resume
Thoroughly analyze the job description.
Do a side by side comparison of your resume and the job description.
Make notes about how/why you meet each item on the job description.
Be prepared to give an example for each item on the job description.
You should be able to answer questions and give specific details about any points that are on your resume. This helps the interviewer confirm that you really did the things you listed.
Be prepared to explain in detail how you accomplished things on your resume.
For example, if your resume accomplishments section lists that you increased membership by 25%, be prepared to explain in detail how you accomplished that. Use the STAR model, below.
Anticipate Common Interview Questions
Below are some popular interview questions.
These are generic questions that come up at some point in nearly all job interviews.
Some basic questions include:
Tell me about yourself.
- Tell me about yourself.
- What is your greatest weakness?
- What is your greatest strength?
- What do you know about [company]?
- Why do you want to join [company]?
- Why are you leaving [current company]?
- Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
- Give me 2 reasons we shouldn't hire you.
These types of questions (which are normally presented as statements) help an employer understand how you have handled past experiences. This gives them insight into how you might handle similar situations in the future.
Some situations include:
- Tell me about a conflict you dealt with in the workplace and how you addressed it.
- Tell me about a time you had to make a judgement call.
- Tell me about a time you failed at something.
Use the STAR model to give examples
This puts the example into context and will help you talk through a comprehensive example. Always use examples from a business setting if you have them.
The STAR model consists of:
- Situation - Describe the background so the interviewer understands the context. This can be done in a few sentences.
- Task - What was the task you were given? This is what you were trying to accomplish.
- Action - What steps did you take? Use a few sentences to describe them.
- Result - What was the outcome? If you weren't able to accomplish the task, make sure to describe what you learned.
Here is a sample STAR response:
- Interviewer: Tell me about a time you had to make a judgement call.
- Interviewee (you):
In my role managing a new product launch, one of the parts we needed to assemble the final product was delivered the morning we were to start production and did not match the specification. [SITUATION]
I had to determine whether to assemble the product with the out of spec part or to delay production. [TASK]
I quickly reviewed the function of the non-conforming part. I concluded that the part was critical to the operation of the product and would need to be replaced. However, I also found that we could fully assemble the non-conforming part and replace the part later with minimal work. [ACTION]
As a result, we were able to start production on time. The supplier expedited replacement parts. The rework was able to be completed quickly which enabled deliveries to be made according to the original timeplan. [RESPONSE]
Create Your Own Questions to Ask
An interview is a two-way street. This is your opportunity to find out if the company or position is a good fit for you. In addition, asking questions in an interview shows that you are interested in the company and the position.
Asking questions in an interview shows that you are interested in the company and the position.
Practice with a Friend
Role-playing with a friend is a great way to prepare for your interview.
You can provide a list of interview questions, but also encourage your mock interviewer to get creative. It is highly likely that you will get at least one question during your interview that you did not prepare for. You should practice how you will react in that situation and maintain your composure.
In what areas are you weak or unclear?
Ask for feedback from the person that does the interview. What points did you excel at? What areas were weaker or unclear?
Also consider capturing video of your mock interview so you can review it yourself. You may be surprised at certain habits that you display when watching it compared to what you think you are doing.
How will you improve your interview preparation in the future?