I’ve had my fair share of interviews, and I like to think over time I’ve built a system that has helped me learn how to prepare for an interview. Preparation is the part that really sets you up for success, and sets the tone for the interview. I know what to do in the days leading up to prepare, how to handle myself during an interview and what to do afterwards to leave a great impression.
A huge part of preparation is research. The following are items I research prior to interviews:
1. The Company
It’s important to have a thorough understanding of the company. I find notable details like awards they’ve won, recent news, and anything that stands out that I like. This way I’m able to easily speak to current news and my genuine interest in the company. I read information about the company on their website, LinkedIn, and Glassdoor.
2. The Interviewer(s)
I find this helps not only give me a better background of the company but it also helps calm my nerves. Take some time to research your interviewer(s) on LinkedIn. Take mental notes of their background and anything you may have in common. Sometimes I’ll write a few notes about each person and review my notes prior to the interview so the key details are fresh in my mind. It’s helpful to understand what kind of background they’re coming from as this may give some insight in to the types of questions they might ask. Sometimes putting a face to a name helps me be less intimidated, so that’s another bonus.
3. Interview Questions
This is by far one of the most important things to research. It’s really important to take some time to look up potential interview questions to familiarize yourself with them and run through and practice some answers. The point isn’t to have answers memorized and fully rehearsed–it’s to get yourself thinking about the potential questions and to prepare some examples that align with the questions. It’s a lot harder to think about past work experience on the fly, so running through potential interview questions and preparing some past work examples will be good so they’ll be fresh in mind for your interview.
I use Glassdoor, Pinterest, and sometimes Google to find sample interview questions. On Glassdoor some past interviewees have listed interview questions at the companies they’ve interviewed at. This tool is very helpful to find company specific interview questions and it can help give an idea of the general overview process. Pinterest is my next go-to tool. I have a lot of pins saved to my Career Advice board that I’ve used as a reference for interview questions. Sometimes I’ll also do a search for more interview questions on Pinterest if need be. Having a list of questions saved either on Pinterest or in a document on your computer is helpful so that way you can pull from them when you have an interview lined up. It’ll give you a greater piece of mind knowing you have a list of resources at the ready when you have an interview you need to prepare for.
If you’re not a fan of Pinterest and you’re not finding any questions on Glassdoor, Google is always a solid resource. You will find sooo many great articles and websites through Google. Nowadays we have so many tools and resources at our disposal, so you’ll be sure to find a few or even one that work for you.
Once you find some sample questions, be sure to run through some answers on your own to prepare, then after have a friend or family member conduct a mock interview with you. Pull up a few lists of sample questions that you haven’t reviewed on your own so that way you can practice answering questions on the fly. Having prepared for all different types of questions you could receive will make you feel at ease going in to an interview.
4. Salary Ranges
Depending on the industry you work in and how many interviews there will be in the interview process for a specific job, requested salary may come up in your first conversation. It’s best to be prepared for the topic in case the interviewer broaches the subject. I utilize Glassdoor to check estimated salaries for a specific job. Not only do I look at the specific company and find the salary range for a specific job, but I also check for the salary range for the job in my city and even the national range as well.
Having that knowledge is important as it’ll help you be able to feel confident and prepared to address the topic if it comes up and negotiate if needed.
Questions to Ask the Interviewer(s)
I like to have prepared between five and eight questions to ask my interviewer(s). If I know I’ll have multiple interviewers, I like to have questions that I intend to ask each of them. I usually try and have a couple questions that are more specific to the interviewers. Then I have questions prepared about the job, company, and department. I only end up asking about three questions but I like to have extras prepared in case some of the ones I had in mind are already answered during the interview.
I’ll write these questions down on a small piece of paper and will keep them in my bag. Sometimes I’ll pull them out if need be, but I try to remember them on my own without having to utilize the list on paper. Either way, having questions prepared is very important–it shows your interest in the job and the company. Taking the time to think thoughtful questions through will be beneficial during your interview.
Thank You Note(s)
Before an interview, I prepare hand written thank you notes. I have the envelopes addressed ready with postage. Then immediately after my interview I write some notes about what was discussed and some things the interviewer(s) said that were memorable. Then I write out my thank you notes the same day and have them out in the mail that day. Time is of the essence when writing thank you notes, so having the cards and envelopes prepped and ready to go ensures that I’ll quickly send them out the same day as the interview.
These are the ways in which I’ve prepared for interviews. Preparation makes me feel so much more at ease and confident when walking in to an interview. I remind myself that the most important thing I can do is to prepare. If things are meant to be, then they will, if not, then I strongly believe something better will come.
How do you prepare for an interview? Is there anything that I haven’t included that you do? I’d love to hear about it in a comment!