How to prepare for a successful job interview?

You come across your dream job that is posted online, you craft a great resume and apply for it, and now you have been called to appear for an interview.

One roadblock that stands between you and the job is the interview process which requires you to outshine other candidates.  

The interview process can be daunting, and through this article, you will come across several important interview preparation tips that you need to know so that it covers all your strengths and you walk out of the room with an offer letter. 

Job interview preparation:  There are three steps to this process, that is, how to prepare for an interview

  1. Pre-job interview preparation
  2. During the interview
  3. After the interview

How to prepare for an interview: Pre-job interview preparation process

Do your research: One of the most critical parts of the interview preparation process is doing detailed research about the company. The company may have a strong foundation, high-quality products, and a strong balance sheet but what is more important is whether the profile fits your requirement and matches your experience? Study the job description very carefully, read it more than once. You need to focus on the key phrases that the employer uses in the job description, see if these keywords have any alignment with your interest areas and experience.

Find out details about the interviewer: In maximum cases, details of the interviewer get shared in advance with the candidates. You can find out more about the person who is likely to take the interview through their social media profiles like LinkedIn, Twitter, etc. It helps you know about the person you are going to meet. It is an important interview preparation tipYou may find some common points between you and the interviewer, for example, a school or a college, or a friend commonly known to both of you. Such commonalities can put both of you at ease and might give you an edge over other candidates.  

Commonly asked questions: While doing interview preparation, you can list down the set of questions you would have asked if you were the interviewer. Prepare a list of common questions that you think have a high probability of getting asked during the interview. These are also the most frequently asked questions by interviewers:

  • Tell me about yourself.
  • What do you know about the company and the role offered? 
  • Why do you want to leave your current organization?
  • Describe your strengths and weaknesses
  • What values can you bring to the organizational culture if we hire you?
  • What are your goals?
  • Situation-based questions.

Mock interview practice: Mock interview preparation sessions can help you overcome the anxiety you may feel during the interview. You can ask your family members or your friends to help you with mock interview practice sessions. You may choose to record your practice session, you can watch the recorded video and correct yourself where ever required. 

Organize documents: As you come closer to the interview day, make sure that all the relevant documents are assembled in one file/folder, for example, mark sheets, degrees and certificates, identification proof, salary slips, experience documents from previous employment, and photographs.

Dress code: All interviews are formal and conducted in a formal environment, hence dress appropriately. How well you may have practiced for the interview, remember your first impression is your appearance and can get you extra points. 

Interview preparation checklist: Whether it is your first employment interview or first in seven years, the basics remain unchanged. Prepare a list so that you do not miss anything when appearing for the interview.

  • Keep multiple copies of your resumes.
  • Carry a pen and a diary/notebook
  • Carry all the relevant documents
  • Keep practicing answers to the commonly asked questions
  • Arrive at least 20 minutes early to avoid the last-minute rush 

Research career headway and opportunities: Besides trying to know about the company during your interview preparation exercise, do widen your research area and know where the profile does take you in the future and what the training opportunities are. Find out if there is any course that would be relevant to the position you are applying for. You may choose to express your interest in the learning during the interview, this will show your seriousness towards the job and your proactive nature. Do not be over-enthusiastic about the course, this may digress the interviewer’s focus.

How to prepare for an interview: During the interview preparation tips

  1. Reach the interviewer’s office early: Reaching the venue before time, at least 20-30 minutes before, gives you some time to relax. You can freshen up, tuck in your shirt well, and comb your hair. Your first impression is going to make a powerful impact. Reaching the venue earlier than the scheduled time slot helps you to control the anxiety level you may have, and prepare yourself mentally for the interview. Reaching the place early also helps you to complete formalities, if any. It further allows you to strike an informal conversation with the other candidates, it helps in gauging the competition
  2. Control over body language: Your body language in an interview must reflect you as a confident and positive person. Several interview preparation recommendations tell you how to control your body language.
  3. Make eye contact: One of the important Interview preparation tips guides you on how to make eye contact with the interviewer? Eye contact reflects your confidence and trustworthiness. In such cases where there are multiple interviewers then start out looking at the person who asked the question, then briefly make eye contact with other panel members, and come back again to the person who asked the question. It also demonstrates your team-building ability.
  4. Offer a gentle handshake: Your handshake should not be so hard that it hurts the interviewer, and also it should not be so soft that it doesn’t present your confidence in the job. It should be pleasant.
  5. Sitting posture: Another significant way to control your body language is to sit in the correct posture. Slumping reflects that you are scared whereas leaning back in the chair reflects that you are taking the job interview lightly.
  6. Control your breathing: It is sometimes natural to feel nervous before/during the interview, and this may reflect in your breathings which may be short and shallow. You need to control your breath, as this often leads to a shaky voice when you speak. If you are doing interview preparation then you need to learn breathing techniques. One of the techniques is the 4-7-8 technique, i.e., inhale for 4 seconds, hold on to the breath for 7 seconds, and exhale the air for 8 seconds. 
  7. Wear a smile: Humans are inclined more naturally towards a smiling person than a person with either frowns or no emotions. The same rule applies in the case of the interview as well. Do not try to fake it for the interview but carry a natural one. 
  8. Ask meaningful questions to the interviewer: Most interviewers provide an opportunity to candidates to ask questions for queries they may have or clarify doubt if any. A successful interview is one where there is an active conversation between the interviewer and interviewee. You should make a list of relevant interview preparation questions that you can ask. Asking questions reflects that you have done your homework and you are interested in the job.  These questions can be:
  9. Am I fit for the role? It allows an interviewer to interpret you as a person who is open to constructive dialogues and criticism. The question itself tells an interviewer that you are serious about the job.
  10. Ask questions about company culture.

Where will this position take you in the future?

While asking intelligent questions is very important, avoid asking questions that are related to salary hikes, leaves entitlement, and vacations. Such questions reflect that you are interested in the benefits more than the job profile.

How to prepare for an interview: Post interview

  1. Analyze your performance: Do a self-evaluation of the interview. Make notes about what you think went right during the interview and where you could have done better. List down questions that were difficult to answer. Find out whether you missed sharing any vital information with the interviewer which you had wanted to. 

Once the list is ready, introspect on those areas where you need improvement so that during your next interview preparation cycle, you can overcome the shortcomings from the past.

  1. Conclude with “Thank You”: These simple-looking two words are highly impactful in their way. It could be your last point of making an impact with the interviewer. A thank you note does make an impact on your chances of landing the job. A recent study suggests that thank you notes or messages have taken great importance in evaluating a candidate since the pandemic/COVID-19 crisis began.
  2. Timing matters: First 24 hours are critical to send a thank you note/message to the interviewer. Do not hesitate to ask your interviewer for their business card or get their mail id.
  3. Send a thank-you note: Spend some time to prepare for a quality thank you mail/message draft. If there were more than one interviewer then do not send one generic note to all. Be prepared to write multiple thank you notes.
  4. Proofread your note: It is important to cross-check the thank you note before you send it. You must check for the spell errors, grammatical mistakes, and selection of words. If required, show the note to someone you know who has a good command of English before sending it.
  5. Avoid writing lengthy notes: The purpose of the thank you note is to thank the interviewer for his time. Mention the points in brief that the two of you discussed during the interview. Address the concerns that the interviewer may have expressed during the interview, and highlight your interest in the job. Do not keep the thank you note neither too short nor too long.
  6. Follow-up with HR: It is okay to call HR and take a follow-up on the interview result. Be sure that you mention all the details when you take follow-up, for example, your name, position you had applied for, interview date, & interviewer name. It will help HR to pull out the relevant details.

How to prepare for an interview

Success does not come only with the interview preparation but through making an impact on the interviewer. Professional interview preparation coaching centres help you to prepare for interviews and also transform your personality for good. Coaching helps you to attain:

  1. Quickly develop a bond with the interviewer.
  2. Get them to solve any concerns that the interviewer may have about you.
  3. Prepares you about how to secure enough information about the company before applying for it
  4. Self-confidence is the key to a healthy interview. Proper preparation helps you to gain confidence in your abilities. 
  5. Coaching helps you to reach one step closer to your dream job.

Concluding: In the entire process of interview preparation, you should:

  1. Never lie about anything that the interviewer asks you. A lie today may cost you heavily tomorrow.
  2. Always talk positively about your current or previous employer. It leaves a good impression.
  3. Be honest if you do not know the answer to a question. Acknowledge that you do not know rather than trying to pick incorrect statements. 
  4. Never ask any personal questions from the interviewer.
  5. Lastly, be respectful to the company you appeared for an interview with, even if you are not selected.