Interviews Are Easy When You Prep These Three Things

interview prep tips

Congrats, you’ve landed yourself a job interview! Whether you’ve been applying and networking like crazy, or whether a recruiter came knocking after viewing your profile on LinkedIn, it’s time to start thinking about that first conversation that will determine whether or not you move forward in the process. This is your first impression, so prepping to make sure you’re ready for whatever comes your way is crucial.

A good hiring manager will ask questions that evaluate if you have the right characteristics and traits required to be successful in the role. Some time might be spent on straightforward yes/no questions (i.e. are you familiar with X software?), but your preparation should be focused on what your personal strengths and competencies are and how they relate to the job in question. Competency-based interviews can be intimidating, but a little preparation can go a long way in easing anxiety and representing yourself in the best possible way.

Take a Walk in the Hiring Manager’s Shoes

Consider this: if you were the hiring manager, what would you want to know about a candidate? Take time to read the job description, look for themes, and figure out the organization’s pain points. Then create a list of questions you feel are likely to be asked. It doesn’t hurt to also check Google with search terms like “Questions to ask in a ______ interview” to help guide you to topics you might not have considered.

Then, take it the next step and consider the traits this person will need to have. Is team management an essential part of the role? How about change mastery, or global skills? What are the company values, and what traits might they be looking for to support those? Write down the qualities you think the interviewer may be assessing and consider how they align with your experiences.

Get Your Stories Straight

Once you’ve got a comfortable understanding of the qualities and questions that may be explored in your interview, take time to think about stories that demonstrate your capabilities in these areas. You can’t know for sure what questions you’ll be asked and which stories you might use, but revisiting your experiences prior to an interview will keep details top of mind and easy to access on the spot, when pressure is a bit higher and racking your brain for information is a bit harder.

Practice your stories and check the facts, but don’t force a story just because you are prepared with one. The most important thing is to answer the question being asked, not to give the answer to a question you wish had been asked. It’s okay if you don’t get to share every example you prepared, and don’t try to change a story to force it to work as an answer. The point is to mitigate the risk of a “deer-in-the-headlights” moment, not to create a hard-and-fast script.

Consider Your Questions

Going into an interview, you can be so focused on what questions they might ask you that you forget to prepare your own questions in response. It’s an easy mistake to make, but an important one to avoid. There are two major things that happen when you come with questions:

First, coming with thoughtful questions demonstrates your genuine interest in the role and shows you did your research and spent time learning about the opportunity and organization. This is important – recruiters and hiring managers are taking time out of their busy schedules to evaluate you, figure out if you’re a good fit, and determine how serious you are about this opportunity. Show them that you care and that you really want this role by doing your homework in advance.

Second, asking questions gives you the chance to assess if this job is the right fit for you. During your interview, employers will be evaluating your alignment with the role and fit with the organization – that’s a given. But don’t forget that this is also your time to really assess whether that organization is right for you. Don’t rush into an opportunity without doing your homework and asking the questions that matter. Take time to assess a company’s values, how it treats employees, and what opportunities for growth there are in the position. Make sure that you get enough questions answered that you feel comfortable and confident in making your decision when it comes time to respond to a job offer.

Most importantly, relax, try to enjoy the process and always be you.

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