How to prepare for an interview
Tips to prepare for job interviews and practice answering questions.
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Preparing for interviews
You know you can land that job. We know you can too. Job interviews are your chance to tell your story, explain what you can do, and impress interviewers. If that sounds scary, don’t worry. All it takes is the right preparation. Let’s walk through a few tips to help you interview like a pro.
7 steps for determining what to do next.
“Think about the aspects of you that are relevant to future work. There are seven of them starting off with what you know.”
Gary Bolles, Chair for the Future of Work, Singularity University
Confirm the details with the recruiter
As soon as you’re invited for an interview, get the details. Ask about:
- Start time
- Expected duration
- Parking guidelines
- Type of interview (e.g., behavioral, technical)
- Number of interviewers
- Each interviewer’s name, title, and role in the company (including correct spelling and pronunciation)
You should be able to get most of these details from your recruiter. However, you may want to try the company's website or LinkedIn if you need more details.
Understand why you’re interviewing
Know why you want the position. Is it an opportunity to advance or grow in your career? Do you admire the company's vision?
Think about a few reasons before your interview and write them down.
Research the company and role
Learning about the company
Learning as much as you can about the company shows the recruiter that you are prepared and invested in the role. It also may give you insights into company culture and product range. Information to research includes:
- Organizational structure
- Financial status, e.g., stock prices
- Recent major changes
- Upcoming major changes
To learn about company culture, history, and mission, check the company website and social media. If you know someone who works for the company, ask them for their perspective.
Reviewing the job description
Read the job description carefully for the qualifications and align your skills with those as closely as you can.
Write it down so that you can talk about them confidently and think of examples of how you implemented these skills in your current or prior positions.
Practice mock interviews
A mock interview is when you find someone to help you practice your response to common interview questions. Practice the following areas.
Answering common interview questions
Selling your value
Explaining a change in your career
Have a few questions to ask the interviewer
Questions may come up naturally during the interview, but it’s good to think of a few in advance to ask at the very end. Interviewers hope that you prepared thoughtful questions. Examples of questions to ask the interviewer include:
- Why is this role available right now?
- What are the expectations you have of the person coming into this position?
- What projects would the person in this position be working on over the next several months?
- What does success look like for this position after 6 months? 12 months?
- When will you make your decision?
There are certain types of questions you’ll want to avoid. Don’t ask about:
- Benefits, including holiday time, sick time, and vacation time
- Salary or stock options
Speak with human relations (HR) or the recruiter about this separately. While you have time with the interviewer, you want to keep questions focused on the role.
However, if an employer asks about your expected salary range, you should be prepared to answer.
How to plan for a remote interview
Today, remote interviews are commonplace. But they might be new to you and that’s okay. We have a few tips to help things go smoothly.
- Test out the interview platform in advance. Whether it’s Zoom or Teams you’ll want to download the platform and practice using it well before the day of the interview.
- Use the best Internet you have and have a back-up plan if yours is spotty (e.g., use a hotspot, call via phone, etc.).
- Find a quiet place where you won’t be interrupted. It could be a closet, or a bedroom, or your kitchen, but make sure your space makes you relaxed and confident.
- Use a virtual background, or “blur” your background if your space is distracting.
- Choose an outfit based on the company dress code. If you can’t determine the dress code, it’s better to err on the side of being overdressed rather than under.
If things don’t go perfectly, don’t worry. We’ve all seen a news cast where someone’s dog or child has entered the frame. Just do the best you can.