How to prepare for a job interview
After applying at different job openings, you finally get invited for an interview. Congratulations! Now it’s time to start preparing for your interview to assure that you leave the best impression possible. Don’t take this lightly. Being prepared will help you nail most interviews, just like it will crush interviews if you haven’t prepared well. In this guide you will find all the information you need to leave a great first impression.
Reading into the job description
Assuming you have written a CV and motivational letter tailored to the job you are applying for, you already have a basic understanding of what is being asked in the job vacancy. However, it is advisable to carefully read through it again and to write down important aspects. You should make a distinction between critical parts of the job and the less important parts of it. In order to prepare yourself you should ask yourself some questions regarding the critical parts of the job description, for example:
- What are my core responsibilities in this role?
- What kind of job-specific skills do I need for this? (e.g. programming skills such as Java, C#)
- What kind of soft-skills do I need? And how can I use mine to be successful in this role?
- Do I meet the requirements that they demand for this role?
- If I don’t, is there a logical explanation for it?
- How can I convince the hiring manager or recruiter that the experience I have gained, and my personal skills are enough to be successful in this role?
- How would I fit in the team? What can I bring to the table that would be deemed an addition?
Answering these questions will help you tackle a lot of difficult questions beforehand. It will also ease your mind a bit and allows you to be more relaxed going into the interview.
Finding information about the company
After having read into the job description, you should take your time to research the company you are applying at. One of the first things you should do is to visit the website and find out all the things they do. Read into their mission and vision. Gather as much valuable information as possible.
Besides looking at the fit between candidates and the job description, recruiters and hiring managers also look at whether a candidate would match with the company’s culture and values. But most importantly you should read into the company’s culture and values to determine if YOU want to work there. The job market is large, but what suits you?
- Why do you want to work in the sector that this company is active in?
- Why do you want to work in this type (start-up, scale-up, consultancy, government etc.) of organization?
- Why are you suited for company’s culture and values? Where do you see the match?
- What are you looking for in colleagues? Why would you fit in the team?
Answering these questions will help you identify if you fit in with this company. At the same time, it is also a critical note to yourself whether this is a company you would want to work at. It can happen that you realized this company might not be the best choice for you at this moment. Preparing for an interview goes both ways. Checking if you fit with the company is also part of the search for a job and therefore valuable information to know.
In addition, it is also important to find out what your ambitions are. Where do you want to be in 5 years? And what opportunities do you see within this organization to achieve that? To answer this yourself, you need to know what a career path looks like within the organization. Often the website of the organization offers enough information about these kinds of things.
There are also some practical tips that are very useful for leaving a good impression at an interview.
- Research the location of the company. How can you get there? Is it possible to go by public transport? Are there any roadblocks on the way?
- Be on time. Not too early and certainly not too late. If you arrived way too early at an interview, it’s often better to wait sometime before heading in. Take a walk around the building or anything. If you do run late (due unforeseen circumstances), let the company know! Call them and tell that you are running late but that you are doing everything in your power to arrive on time.
- Ask for the dress code beforehand. Make sure you are properly dressed according to the standard of the company.
- Prepare some small talk (e.g. talk about the building, the weather, the traffic) for when you are in the elevator or walking to the meeting room.
- Remember to give a firm handshake. Not too firm but certainly not too weak.
- Read the news about the company. Maybe you find something interesting to talk about during the interview.
- Checkout their social media accounts to stay up to date on developments from their side and potential interesting activities.
- Bring your resume and a notebook & pencil to take notes during the interview. It shows you are well prepared and an organized person.
Follow all these tips and you will be well prepared for any interview ahead. A good preparation can bring you a long way but the key to a successful interview remains to be yourself! Got any additions yourself? Feel free to share them below.