How To Prepare for an Interview
Don’t make the mistake of thinking all you need to do is Google a few of the most common interview questions to prepare for your next interview. Whether you’re pursuing a new job, a grant, or college admission, it’s critical to take the time to prepare diligently.
You don't want to cut corners; from practicing the interview to researching the company (or school), adjusting to a virtual environment, and choosing your outfit, every detail matters. Don’t be nervous — Poised is here to help you plan accordingly. Below is practical information and advice to ace your next interview and seize the opportunity in front of you!
Different Interview Types
While all interviews require you to put your best foot forward, what you’re interviewing for will determine how to best prepare.
Let’s begin with a few of the most common types of interviews:
Looking for a New Job
If you are preparing for a job search, it’s essential to understand the styles of interviews you might experience. Many companies begin by scheduling an introductory interview over the phone to get to know you and gain an overall feel for how you will fit within the company culture. Video and remote interviews have also become much more common in recent years.
Many interviews go beyond the typical questions. For instance, behavioral interviews are conducted to evaluate how you have dealt with specific situations in your previous jobs and how they could relate to your new position.
Case interviews involve you telling the hiring manager how you would manage a specific situation or solve a specific problem for the business. You’ll need to be ready for anything when searching for your next job.
Applying for a Grant
When applying for a grant, it’s common to take on a panel interview. During a panel, multiple interviewers from the same organization or business will ask you questions about your application.
Organizations like to conduct panel interviews because they see it as a way to weed out unqualified or undeserving applicants and ensure their funds are going to the right places.
College Admission Interviews
Before being accepted into a college or university, you might have an interview with a representative from the school as an opportunity to get to know you better. They will probably ask for stories about the past experiences, places, and people that are most important to you. These interviews can help set you apart in a sea of qualified candidates if you make a strong enough connection with your interviewer.
Video Interviews: The New Normal
Though they were somewhat common before the pandemic, virtual interviewers have quickly become the new normal. As technology advances, companies across industries are becoming more comfortable relying on remote interviews during their hiring processes.
Sure, you cannot give a firm handshake when making a good first impression, but there are still plenty of ways to communicate effectively and wow the hiring manager.
Remote Communication Skills
During a remote interview, you will want to make sure you are sitting an appropriate distance from the camera. Sitting too far from your webcam will not put enough emphasis on your face, while sitting too close can make you look too large. Make sure the room you are in has a professional-looking background, and take any necessary steps to minimize distractions.
Remember to make eye contact with the interviewer by looking at the camera instead of their video feed, especially when they are speaking to you. If you are self-conscious about your communication skills, practice them ahead of time, and write down a few notes that you can refer to during the interview.
Practicing for Your Interview
If you are new to virtual interviews, you may feel awkward at first. It’s essential to practice thoroughly beforehand to find your comfort zone. Even then, expect to deal with some nerves as you get your feet wet; it’s okay to feel out of place, and practicing your interview skills can help you feel at ease and move past that awkwardness quickly.
Here are a couple of ways to prepare for your next video interview:
Mock Interviews With a Friend
Perhaps the most effective way to practice for your interview is to set up a mock interview with a friend or career coach. This way, you can get an objective opinion of anything you need to improve upon or be aware of before interview time arrives.
Seek Out a Communication Coach
You may benefit from hiring a communication coach who specializes in virtual meetings and phone interviews. An experienced professional will be able to walk you through various interview styles and help you pinpoint areas of improvement so you can quickly make necessary adjustments.
Furthermore, using a free online speaking coach like Poised could help you learn everything you need yourself. This AI-powered communication coach will give you real-time feedback during your mock interviews and personalized tips to communicate more effectively.
Do Your Research
If you want to stand out as a candidate, researching the employer will play a critical role. Learning more about the company will help you prepare thoroughly for your interview and ensure that you have excellent questions to ask that demonstrate initiative and interest.
Start by researching the company culture. Now more than ever, businesses are looking for candidates that will be a good fit for their culture, mission, and values.
Pour over the company website, look for any mentions in the news, and follow the organization on its social media accounts. Not only will this help you prepare for the interview, but it will also help you determine whether you actually want to work for the company. You’ll also want to research what types of experience and skills the organization values to gauge whether you will be a good fit.
More Interview Tips to Help You Get the Job
When preparing for your interview, understand your selling points and why you want the job. It’s good to have three to five specific reasons the job in question is an ideal fit for you. You will also want to have a few excellent questions prepared for the interviewer.
During the actual interview, your first five minutes should be as strong as possible because many hiring managers make up their minds about candidates during that time. Come out of the gate enthusiastic and energetic, and express your gratitude for the interviewer taking time out of their day to meet with you. You might also kick things off with a positive remark about the company, referring to specific work it has been doing in the industry or community.
Try not to see your interviewer as an adversary; on the contrary, take their side and see the interview from their perspective. They want to find the perfect candidate just as much as you want to be the perfect candidate. This can help you maintain confidence and keep the good of the organization a top priority.
Get Live Feedback During Your Interview
Your prep doesn't need to end when your interview starts. By using software like Poised, you can receive live feedback throughout the interview to help you sharpen your communication skills, perfect your body language, and land your dream job.
Not only will this help you to become a better communicator for future interviews and meetings, but it will also help you in your current interview. For example, if you are using too many filler words, Poised will alert you and give you tips for calming your nerves.
Review Common Interview Questions
As discussed, many questions are present across most job interviews. While you can’t predict precisely what you will be asked in your upcoming interview, you can make a list of probable questions and prepare thorough answers. Here are a few examples:
“Tell Me About Yourself.”
This will likely be one of the first questions in your interview. You should be ready to talk about yourself and explain why you are the right person for the job. Above all, the interviewer will want to determine whether you are an excellent fit for both the job functions and the company culture.
The key is to answer questions about yourself by providing just the right amount of information, not too much or too little. You might talk about the important people in your life, a hobby you enjoy, your hometown, your college, your career goals, and some personal experiences you’ve had outside of work.
“Tell Me About Your Past Experience.”
Even though you included your past work experience on your resume and cover letter, the interviewer will probably ask you to elaborate. Most hiring managers want to connect the dots of how your previous experience in both work and school makes you an excellent candidate for the position.
As you prepare, list out your most relevant qualifications, and match them to the individual demands in the job description.
“Why Do You Want To Work Here?”
Interviewers ask this question to separate candidates who think it would be kind of cool to work for the organization from those who actually want the job. This would be an excellent time to discuss some of the information you found while researching the company's history, culture, values, and mission.
Often, this question is asked in the context of why you are leaving or have left your previous job. It’s essential to be direct and stick to the facts without giving too much information, particularly if you did not leave your previous employer under good circumstances. Keep a positive tone, and stay focused on the future.
And… “Do You Have Any Questions for Me?”
At the end of the interview, the answer to this question must be “Yes.” Otherwise, it can make you appear apathetic about the job opportunity.
During your interview preparation, take the time to make a list of questions to ask the interviewer. You probably won’t need to ask all of them, but it’s best to have a few to choose from that relate to your conversation.
Try to cover several bases in your questions by asking about job requirements, the office environment, promotional opportunities, workplace culture, the company’s mission statement and vision, and so forth.
Interview Outfit: What Should You Wear?
It matters what you wear during your interview, whether in person or over video. Take time to learn the company dress code to get an idea of which outfit you should wear. If unsure, go with business attire. It’s better to dress a bit too formal than too casual.
Dressing for Zoom Calls
We've all seen the memes of people wearing suits up top and pajamas on the bottom during virtual meetings and video calls. Don’t make that mistake when interviewing for a serious position! Also, fight the temptation to dress less formally because you are in your own home, as it can send the wrong message and make you appear apathetic.
Moreover, you want to ensure that your interview outfit looks appealing on camera. Besides looking in the mirror, open up Zoom to make sure everything looks perfect. Some outfits can look unappealing or inappropriate on video when they would be completely acceptable in person.
At the End of the Interview
As your interview comes to a close, try to end on a positive note. Don’t hesitate to sell yourself to the recruiter and demonstrate your desire for the job one more time. After making it through the interview and realizing that you want the job, ask for it.
Explain why you’re even more excited about the position now than before the interview, and give a concise recap of why you would love to work for the organization.
Thank You Notes and Emails
The follow-up is one of the most critical parts of the interview process. Be sure to send a thank-you note after the end of an interview that expresses your appreciation for the hiring manager taking the time to meet with you.
These days, hand-written notes and email messages are both appropriate. Your note should also reiterate your interest in the position. If there was anything you meant to say during the interview but couldn’t, put it in your note.
Acing Your Next Interview
If you really want to ace your next interview, you have to take time to prepare. If you try to cut corners, it will be harder to impress the interviewer and make you appear apathetic.
Consider the job interview tips above as you begin researching common questions and answers, writing notes about your potential employer, and practicing your interview skills. Remember to use any communication tools that can help you get that job offer!