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Properly preparing for an interview can make or break your chances of getting the job. We go through everything you can do to prepare thoroughly and show up with confidence.
Why Preparing for A Job Interview is Worth It
Though it’s easy to fantasize about pulling off a stellar job interview without doing so much as looking up the company website, nine times out of ten this is never the case. There are obvious reasons why you should take the time to prepare for a job interview like: you want to have the best chances of landing the job.
That’s great. But often the benefits of preparing for an interview aren’t as obvious. It’s not unusual for employers to hire someone who they like or feel comfortable with. What’s interesting is that being liked and entering an interview with an aura of comforting confidence isn’t relayed by how many facts you memorized about the company, but how at ease and prepared you come off.
If everything about you reads “prepared” you’ll be the more memorable candidate—even if you don’t meet all the requirements and qualifications of the job opening. Preparedness garners confidence. And confidence garners likability and rapport. Spend the proper amount of time preparing for the job interview and watch how you naturally up the ante in both areas as your chances of landing the gig goes up.
The Investment Needed to Prepare for a Job Interview
The main investment needed to prepare for a job interview is your time. More prep time is directly correlated to a successful interview experience.
In terms of financial investment, there are a few potential options that can be worth exploring, from professional, well-fitted clothing to wear to the interview to taking courses and certifications that raise your qualifications for the job you want. One of our favorite tools that takes a little time and money (but not a lot) is creating an online portfolio.
With a tool like Squarespace, you can create your own online portfolio without needing to know any special design skills. Think of it as your personal online resume. These days, everything is digital. Including first impressions. Besides having your social media profiles speak for who you are, creating an online portfolio regardless of the industry you operate in, helps you stand out from job candidates who maybe haven’t taken the time to create one.
With Squarespace’s many website templates, it’s easy to get started creating a professional-looking website that showcases your skillset and best work. Once you sign up, you’ll have access to its drag-and-drop builder to create a website that matches your personal brand.
7 Steps to Prepare for a Job Interview
Once you break down preparing for a job interview into a few key steps, you’ll ditch the overwhelm and have an easier time cultivating that prepared confidence we talked about earlier.
#1 – Create Your Online Resume
Part of standing out is showcasing what you do. Once you create your online resume, it adds an extra layer of credibility. It’s also a way to control your perceived image by showcasing your best work and achievements. If you want to take it a step further, blogging on what you’re most knowledgeable about is a perfect way to show you know your stuff. Once employers see that online, they get to see just how valuable you can be as an addition to their team. At the very least, your website should contain:
- A homepage
- An about page
- A contact page
- A blog or portfolio
- A downloadable PDF of your resume (optional)
With Squarespace, it’s easy to create a site once you choose a template that matches what you’re trying to portray. You’ll also need to purchase your domain name. This can be your first and last name, or you can name your site something else that’s fitting. You can either transfer an existing domain to Squarespace or register your new domain name through it.
From there, it’s a matter of making your site visually appealing with Squarespace’s site builder, adding your personal touches, and finally, uploading your information. Are there any relevant portfolio pieces worth sharing? Any personal projects that align with the position you’re looking to get worth publishing?
You also have the option of providing a link to a downloadable PDF. Though it’s not totally necessary if it isn’t something you feel comfortable doing. Once finished, you should be left with a personal website showcasing your best skills that you can easily share with employers.
#2 – Do Your Research
For any interview you’re walking into, you want to make that first step making sure you’ve done your preliminary research. What’s the company’s vision? What were the job responsibilities listed in the job ad? How is the business structured and where does the open job position fit within that?
Is there a company website you can explore that’ll shine more light on the who, what, when, where, and how of the business? Is there media buzz around the company you could make sure to inform yourself about?
What are the company’s social profiles like? What traits does it display that you could take on and highlight when at the interview?
Anything you can’t find answers to can go on a list of questions you’ve prepared to ask at the interview. Part of doing your research is paying close attention to the job description. That way, you’re walking into the interview with eyes wide open and in case any questions come up about your position you can address them with the interviewer.
#3 – Practice Real Interview Questions
While it’s nearly impossible to gauge the exact questions you’ll be asked at any given interview, there are still some general ones you can practice giving answers to that’ll help prepare you for the process.
If you’re at a loss for what interviewers tend to ask, a quick Google search can help remedy that. To help, here’s a quick list of interview questions you can think through and practice answering ahead of time:
- Why are you the best person for this position?
- What are your greatest strengths and your greatest weaknesses?
- What relevant experience have you had that’ll help you succeed in this position?
- Where do you see yourself five years from now?
- Why do you want to work for this company?
- Tell me about the most difficult project you had to complete at your previous job and how you handled it
- Why is there a gap in your employment history?
- What’s your skillset? How are you looking to improve?
- How do you deal with stressful situations?
- What are your passions outside of work?
- Why did you leave your last position?
- How do you use your leadership skills in the workplace?
- What’s one thing our company could improve on?
Keep in mind that the position you’re applying for will heavily influence the questions you’re asked to answer. For instance, if you’re interviewing for a sales position, you’ll need to be prepared for very different interview questions than someone applying for a managerial role.
Don’t be afraid to ask a friend to help you practice some of the more common interview questions. Feedback from people you trust can help you refine how you approach each question as well as your delivery.
#4 – Prepare a Set of Relevant Questions
“Do you have any questions for us?” should never be met with silence or a resounding “no.” You should always have questions about the position or the company. It shows your genuine interest in the job opening, how the company operates, and how your position fits within that. It also highlights your initiative, research, and personality.
Sometimes you can think of questions on the spot. But to make sure you don’t blank out (it happens) preparing a set of possible questions is a wise thing to do.
Some thoughtful and relevant questions can look like:
- What does a typical day look like for this position?
- Is there anything standing in the way of you hiring me?
- Do you offer career development opportunities?
- What are the most pressing projects you’re currently working on?
- Are there gaps in your team’s skillset you’re looking to fill?
- What are the main responsibilities of this role?
- What does the onboarding process like?
- What goals or expectations do you have for this role?
- What would you say is the best thing about working here?
Though it might not seem like it at first, the interview is a two-way street. You don’t have to be the only one answering key questions. Just like the interviewer is trying their best to accurately fill the position, you’re also trying to gauge if this is the company worth pouring your time and energy into. Make it a point to showcase that. Ask questions. But also listen to the actual answers. Take notes if you need to.
#5 – Practice and Be Aware of Your Body Language
Practicing and becoming aware of your body language can feel a bit performative. But, you’re trying to give a good first impression after all. In the end, a job is a transaction of value, and you want to make sure you’re presenting yourself as someone who can bring value to the table.
This might mean practicing and being aware of your body language so that you convey your most positive traits and give a solid first impression. Your body language is a silent way to sell yourself. Different ways of expressing yourself can be interpreted differently.
For example, you wouldn’t want to sit in an interview with your arms crossed. Worse, you don’t want to avoid eye contact and give a half-hearted handshake. These things sound obvious, but they’re easy to botch at the moment, especially if you’re particularly nervous about the interview. Don’t be afraid to practice with a friend and take it seriously. You’ll exude more confidence than if you walk into an interview completely cold turkey.
#6 – Put Together A Brag Folder
Sure, we might’ve gotten a little cheeky with this subheading. But before any interview, you want to take the time to put together your “brag folder” filled with a few key pieces about you that put you in the best light.
These include things like:
- More than one copy of your resume
- A list of your best references in case they ask
- Printed samples of your work (if relevant)
- A copy of your cover letter
- Note-taking materials
- A set of prewritten questions about the job (it’s okay to write them down)
Your brag folder shows your preparedness, your skillset, and your willingness to do more than the minimum. Without one, you’ll risk putting yourself in a position where you aren’t ready to give solid answers to interview questions that could land you the job.
#7 – Get Ready To Send A Follow-Up Email
A follow-up email can help keep you top of mind. It also shows you’re genuinely interested in the open position and that you didn’t just move on to other job interviews. Your email doesn’t have to be long. As long as it covers the basics it should land well.
You can start off by thanking the interviewer for their time. Make sure you mention what position you interviewed for, since they’re probably dealing with more than one open position. After that, you can take some pointers from the questions you asked during the interview process.
Were there pressing projects they were working on that you could bring up? Was there a need you spoke of that you have a specific skill set in? Mentioning key specifics that you kept track of during the interview process can help show your interest as well as how much value you could offer if hired. Let them know you’re open to any additional questions they may have and that you’re hoping to be in contact soon. The more succinct, specific, and to the point your email, the better.
Interviewing is a bit of an involved process. But with some general pointers in the right direction, you can be sure to up your game. The learning journey never ends though. It’s why we also came up with a guide to growing your personal brand.
Are you interviewing for a project management position? We have just the guide for you that includes everything you should know to set yourself up to land the job. Or maybe you’re on the other side of the table and you need to know everything about creating the perfect sales job descriptions and titles.
Last but most certainly not least, you’ll want to check out our guide to formatting your website, whether you’re creating a personal online portfolio or otherwise, for best results.