The best way to ace your next interview is to make sure you’re prepared. Follow these steps to get ready.
Research the Company/Organization in Depth
Your interviewer will expect you to know quite a bit about his organization. So at a minimum, browse the organization's Web site, read as many of its marketing materials as you can, and look for articles about the organization in major periodicals or industry trade journals. You can dig even deeper by talking to some of the company's current employees.
Identify What You Have to Sell
What are the top three skills or experiences you can offer the employer that other applicants can't? Identify them before the interview, and then determine how you'll communicate them to the prospective employer when answering interview questions.
Anyone can make claims in job interviews; far fewer people back them up. Think about some actual stories you can tell from previous experience to support your statements. Consider developing a career portfolio and using it as a presentation prop during the interview.
Develop Intelligent Questions
At some point during your interview, you'll be asked whether you have any questions. Asking questions demonstrates your level of interest in the job, so develop a few ahead of time, and jot some down during the interview.
Develop Your Close
Successful salespeople know how to effectively close meetings with clients to win sales. Similarly, you need to learn how to close the interview to win the job -- if you want it, that is.
At most campus career centers, you can sign up to do a mock interview with a career counselor. Take advantage of this service so you can get a sense of what an interview situation is like. You can pinpoint specific questions you'll be asked and work through your responses.
Be Ready for Surprises
It's possible you'll be taken out to lunch or dinner as part of the interview. Or you may have to take a preemployment test. Or you'll end up interviewing with more than one person. Be prepared for these possibilities and more.
Make sure you look your very best for the interview. So buy a professional interview suit or two and be sure you look the part.
Know Where You're Going -- Literally
You cannot be late for interviews -- period. Get good directions to the company ahead of time, and if you can, practice traveling to the site.
Get a good night's sleep before your interview so you'll be as physically, psychologically and emotionally ready for it as possible.
Plan to Bring Your Resume to the Interview
In fact, plan to bring several copies. Do not, however, take anyone with you. You're on your own for this one.
Make Peace with Potential Mistakes
Your interview won't go perfectly. You'll struggle with some questions, and you may forget to make some important points. Accept this ahead of time, and you'll take some of the pressure off so you'll make fewer mistakes and omissions during the actual interview.
Articles in This Feature: