Your brilliant cover letter and detailed résumé may get an employer to notice you, but there's one more hurdle before they'll give you a job: the interview.
Job interviews don't have to be scary. With the right preparation, you will not only increase your confidence but also impress your interviewer. Follow this advice to shine in your interview.
Do Your Research
Before your interview, increase your knowledge of the company's mission and the job they're offering. This preparation will give you a better idea of what to discuss—which will help you feel more confident.
The Company's Mission
Find out what they do and what their values are. You'll probably be asked why you want to work for this company in particular, so demonstrating how your skills and values fit in with the company's is key. The company's website is a great resource to learn this info, as are any current or previous employees of the company that you connect with.
A few ways you could answer such a question could be:
- I truly believe in (company's mission) and want to further that mission by (skills you could contribute to the company).
- I was impressed by (company's past work/projects), and I am excited for (company's future projects). I could contribute to these projects by (using relevant experiences and skills).
Specific answers show the company that you've done your research, so give plenty of examples. Explain why you want to work for the company, but also demonstrate how the company can benefit from you.
The Job Description
Look at the duties and skills listed in the description, and think about how your experiences make you a good fit. Come up with specific examples of times when you completed similar duties or used the skills listed.
The best way to show you're capable is by talking about your prior experience. You want to show the interviewer that you were successful in the past and can apply that experience to the position you're applying for. If the interviewer asks why you should get the job, you might say something like:
- At (past job), I (accomplished project/learned skill/gained experience). Because of this, I can (ways you can help the company).
Decide What To Bring
Once you've done your research, start thinking about what you should bring to your interview. Here are a few things to take with you:
- Copies of your résumé: Even if you submitted your résumé electronically, remember to bring a few copies to the interview. Your interviewer may not have a hard copy on hand, or you may be meeting people who have not seen your résumé.
- Portfolio: Bring some examples of your work, such as writing samples, webpages, or presentations. Have copies you can leave behind, if possible.
- Notebook and pen: Because job interviews can be overwhelming, it is easy to forget important information you receive. Writing a few notes during the interview will help you remember what you hear and show that you are engaged. These will come in handy when you write your post-interview thank you notes as well.
- ID: Bring a form of identification, like a driver's license. You may need it to get into the building or human resources may want to make a copy.
- Directions: Make sure to get directions to the interview location, and give yourself plenty of time to get there. Consider visiting the office or meeting place a few days before the interview so you know exactly where it is.
- Contact information: Write down the phone number of your contact at the company, just in case something goes wrong.
Think Of Questions To Ask
You should prepare some questions to ask your interviewer. Asking questions shows you are interested and gives you the opportunity to learn more about the job and company. A few standard questions you might ask are:
- What would a typical day in this position be like?
- What would I need to do to excel in this position?
- What specific skills would you want in a candidate for this position?
- How did you get started with this company?
- What is the work environment like?
- What are the next steps in the hiring process?
Also, try to ask questions based on things you've discussed during the interview (your notes will come in handy with this as well!). This will show that you not only were paying attention, but also that you have the ability to process new information quickly.
Save your questions about salary and benefits until you get the job. Focus on showing how you'd be an asset to the company and finding out if the company's a good fit for you—salary talk can wait.
This pre-interview preparation will get you part of the way. For tips on acing your interview once you get there, check out this video.