[This is #6 of Get Your Dream Job Series: How To Prepare For Interviews]
We face a lot of interviews as we grow up, whether it is a school/college interview, a job interview, or an interview for some particular committees or activities. While there are a lot of interview tips and tricks talking about how to be confident, how to dress well in interview etc, many may ignore the importance of knowing how to prepare for interviews.
Preparing for interviews are always vital. No matter how insignificant the interview it seems, I always spend some time to prepare for it. Even for an interview hosted by my peers for going on a trip, I would still spend around 5 minutes to prepare for it.
I believe that it is always fundamental to get yourself familiarized with the background of the interview. Not only does it gives the interviewer a good impression, it is almost also showing your respect for the interview. It tells the interviewer that you value the opportunity that you are interviewing for, and you are eager to work for it.
But how can you prepare for an interview well? How to use your preparation time in the right way and achieve the best outcome in the interview? This article all the questions you have regarding how you can prepare for interviews!
1. Do Research on the Organization
Doing research on the organization can definitely show your respect and helps you to answer the interview questions. Even when the interviewer didn’t ask you specifically about their organization, being able to bring up a few things about the organization when answering other questions can tell the interviewer that you are really interested in working with the organization.
Here are a few things you may want to read before going to an interview:
- The organization’s website
- Their social media profiles (e.g. LinkedIn, Facebook)
By reading, you should aim at finding out:
- The organization’s mission and vision (this is especially important because the organization would definitely want to have someone that has similar vision and values)
- Their field
- Their recent achievement and news
- Team structure
- Their service/activities
If you want to do even more comprehensive research, it may also be a good idea to look at their competitors. I had once interviewed for a team in my university that is responsible for holding conferences, and they are looking for people to be responsible for promoting the site. I mentioned that I am good at social media marketing because I have experiences in blogging, but that did not impress the interviewers at all. Another interviewee, however, stood out by pointing out things that the society had not done on social media that other societies did, and proposed ways to improve that. And of course, she got the opportunity at the end.
2. Understand The Position You Are Interviewing For, And The Qualifications Required
I always to make sure to revisit the job description before going to an interview. For most of the time, the job description (or flyers / promotion) should have listed their expectations on you and what the position requires. This is vital because in the interview you would have to show the interviewer that you possess these qualities.
When reading the qualifications required, try to find out:
- The skills, interests, and experiences needed
- What you are expected to do if you get the opportunity
Once you have figured out what they want, you can make a list of it so you can go through it before the interview again.
3. Review Your Profile and Qualifications
Once you have that list of qualifications expected by the interviewer, you shall turn to your profile and evaluate it.
Make sure you first review your CV and application form. Here are a few things you need to do.
- If you feel like you don’t have sufficient information to write on CV, you may need to work on that.
- If you have some problematic aspects of your cv, think about how you would explain them to your interviewer (e.g. leaving an employer) (for most of the time the interviewer would ask about it)
- Note down the skills, certifications, knowledge, experiences and interests you have that align with that required for the position. You may want to remember to share them with the interviewer.
Now, if you were asked to walk though your resume, you would know what to say because you have already done your research when you prepare for interviews!
4. Get Some Background Knowledge
While a lot of people stop there, I always find it helpful to do a little bit more background research when I prepare for interviews. For example, if I am interviewing for an HR Consultancy intern, I would like to look a bit into the news and trends in HR, other HR consultancies in my area, and opportunities for HR consultancy etc. This is especially helpful if it is your first time interviewing for opportunities in a specific field. This will show your passion and interest for the industry, making it a very helpful step when you prepare for interviews.
5. Prepare Answers For Basic Interview Questions
We all know that there a few questions that are bound to come up during the interview, and I always prepare for them. If you don’t have much time, you can at least prepare for a 1-minute introduction.
Of course, there is no one formula for answering all questions. But when tackling a question, there are indeed a few things I would think about and try to include. In an interview, this is especially important because you don’t want to just go around the bush without answering the question. Dealing with a question in a right and a succinct way would really leave a good impression. Thus, here are three things you should think about when you have to prepare for interviews.
1. The main point
When answering a question, you may want to start by thinking about the key points you would like to bring out. I suggest making it 3 key points per answer.
2. What it means to you?
How does these key points relate to you? How can my skills, interests, experiences etc illustrate this?
3. What it means to the interviewer (e.g. the company, the job/activity you are applying for etc.)
Here you can try to associate your answer with the subject of the interview.
6. Prepare Questions to Ask the Interviewer
It is usually the case that the interviewer will ask you if you have any questions before ending the interview. Asking good and meaningful question can tell the interviewer that you have a real interest in getting the opportunity, and you have done great research. So, when you have to prepare for interviews, it’s best to also get some questions ready.
I remember one time I was responsible for interviewing students. When we asked if the candidate had any questions, she kept asking when would she be notified of the result. She didn’t ask any other questions at all. This makes the interviewer panel questions her attitude.
Although, somehow, I would have to admit that the one thing we are all (and probably most) interested at is when and how will you get the result of the interview, it’s not always the best idea to ask about it. You may probably bring that up, but that definitely can’t be the only question you ask.
When asking a question, not only should you demonstrate your interest in the position, you should also take this opportunity to find out if the opportunity is really suitable for you.
In case if you find it difficult to come up with questions to ask the interviewer, here are some suggestions:
- How can I / How did the past employees succeed in this position?
- What does this organization value the most, and will my work be able to extend these values?
- What is the most important thing I should accomplish in the first three months?
- Do you enjoy working here, and what do you enjoy the most?
7. Plan What To Wear And What To Bring
Now the last step seems like common sense, but dressing well is really crucial. It determines the very first impression you will give to others. I have once heard that it is always better to dress up than dress down, because even though you dress up a little bit too much for the occasion, it still shows your respect for the event, and people are likely to appreciate it. Nothing is more awkward than being the only person who dresses down for that occasion.
Investing in some nice office wear is always a great idea. You never know when you need to go to some special occasion, so being prepared definitely makes things easier. A nice black pencil skirt and a blazer are my essentials.
After planning your outfit, you may want to get yourself prepared by gathering things you need to bring. Here are some things I recommend bringing (especially for very important interviews).
- An extra copy of CV
- Any certifications required
- A professional notebook and pen
If you are not sure, here is an article on 15 things you need to bring to an interview by HerCampus.com.
Free Checklist Printable
Want to remember all the above steps? Don’t worry, I have made a checklist printable for you! Make sure to download the printable here!
It has all the things you need to prepare for interviews, so you can just take this checklist out before a few days before the big day, and you are good to go!
That’s all that I do for preparing for interviews! Like I said, sufficient preparation is really helpful. Even the smartest people won’t succeed without preparation. How do you prepare for an interview, and what is your number 1 tip? Tell me in the comments below!
Want to Read More?
If you want to read more on interviews, here are some of my favorite articles:
- Top Interview Tips and Tricks You Need to Know on Students Toolbox
- 5 Clever Ways to Prepare for a Job Interview on Levo
- How to Answer the Most Common Job Interview Questions on Elana Lyn Gross