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Breathe in, breathe out: 15 tips to prepare for an interview

September 23, 2022 - 14 min read

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The first step on your job search journey

15 tips to successfully prepare for an interview

What about phone and video interviews?

The 8 most common interview questions

First impressions matter: Interview attire and etiquette

Job interviews are nerve-wracking. It doesn’t matter if you’ve done one or 15 — they rarely get easier.

One survey found that 93% of Americans experienced anxiety from job interviews. And within that survey, 41% said what made them most nervous was being unable to answer a difficult question. 

But we can prepare for our job interviews, which should limit our job interview nerves.

Interview preparation will help you become more comfortable and knowledgeable during the hiring process. You can confidently answer common interview questions rather than fumbling or trying to wing them. Of course, it takes time and dedication to know how to prepare for an interview, but that’s why we’re here.

Strong interviewing skills don’t happen overnight. We’ll explain the best ways to prepare for an interview by making your first impression count and giving yourself plenty of prep time beforehand. Let’s start at the beginning and discuss the first step to wow your potential employer.

 

The first step on your job search journey

You know how to prepare for things. When you’re going for a walk and you notice some dark clouds, you bring an umbrella. It’s a good habit, so why not practice something similar in interviews?

Whether you’re changing jobs or trying to do some career planning, interview prep is a key part of your journey. It helps take out some nerves and allows you to complete your interview knowing you put in the work. And you won’t accomplish your career aspirations without acing a few interviews, so today’s effort will pay off in the future.

Your interview preparation will include:

  • Gaining as much knowledge of the company as possible. Try looking on the company website, check their social media, or do your best to network. When you take the time to prepare, you’re filling your brain with tips and skills that’ll help you during the whole interview process.
    Even knowing about the company culture will give you a clue as to how you’d fit in and contribute.
  • Knowing the details of the role you’re applying for. If the hiring manager asks a question like why you want to work there, you’ll be prepared to include details about the company and speak confidently in your answer. You’ll have insight into what problem-solving questions you might be asked or how your skills will impact the team. 
  • Reviewing your experience and strengths and weaknesses. Any interview will probably include a scenario question where you can draw on previous jobs to explain what you’d do and why it’d be effective. Are you responsible for managing a high volume of tasks on short deadlines? What helps you succeed at that? Make sure you know so you’re ready to share.

Interview preparation boosts your chances of succeeding in your interview and ultimately landing the job. But let’s dive in to explain what specific action to take to prepare.

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15 tips to successfully prepare for an interview

Interview prep stretches far beyond just researching the company. Some preparation tips don’t have to do with the job itself and instead focus on your mind and body. Others are practical and help you knock on the right door when the time comes. 

You can do a lot to prepare for an interview, so we’ve compiled a list of 15 interview preparation tips for you to read:

1. Dedicate time to craft your resume: Your potential employer doesn’t want to see typos or grammatical errors in your resume. Make your resume stand out and ensure it’s clean and organized.

2. Practice some relaxation techniques: Calm yourself down before your interview so you have a clear mind. Studies have found that envisioning success and shifting your focus to something productive helps ease interview nerves.

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3. Do some mock interviews: A mock interview with friends or family will help you slip into the zone. You can practice discussing your work experience and career goals professionally and concisely.

4. Have a positive attitude: The hiring manager isn’t looking to fail you. Enter your interview with a positive mindset, and trust the hard work you’ve put in before to prepare. Your positivity might be infectious and help create a strong first impression.

5. Plan your route accordingly: The last thing you want to be is late. Think about how you’ll travel to arrive promptly for your interview time. If it’s a remote interview, make sure you’ve updated your video conferencing software and are in the meeting a few minutes early. 

6. Have confident body language: Body language is integral to nonverbal communication. Make sure you have a firm handshake, make eye contact, sit up straight, and don’t fidget. 

7. Make a checklist of things you need: If you need to bring a reference list or portfolio, make sure they’re ready to go and polished upon submitting your application. It’s also a good idea to bring copies of your resume in case anyone wants to read it and for your own reference.

8. Rest yourself the night before: Getting a proper amount of sleep the night before will help you wake up feeling energized. Take some time to relax the night before, and make time for it.

9. Write a list of your strengths: If you find it difficult to talk about yourself, prepare a list of things you’re proud of ahead of time. Write down your skill sets, accomplishments, or certifications so you don’t draw a blank at the moment.

10. Plan your outfit the night before: On the morning of your interview, you don’t want to frantically rummage through your closet looking for the best outfit. Think of what you’d like to wear ahead of time and make sure it’s clean and ready to go.

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11. Turn off your electronics: Silence any alarms or notifications you have that might go off during your interview. You don’t want any interruptions or things that might interrupt your focus.

12. Prepare a list of questions: After you’ve answered all the questions you’ve been asked, it’s your turn to ask the hiring manager some questions. This is your opportunity to talk to your potential employer about salary expectations or learn more about the job itself. It also makes you seem more interested in the company.

13. Be assertive and polite: Practice ahead of time how you’ll be polite but assertive when presenting yourself. Rather than being passive and hiding away, practice how you’ll be bold and confident.

14. Think hard about your word choice: Recruiters won’t be wowed if you use generic words they’ve heard hundreds of times before. Think of descriptive action verbs to help you stand out and make an impression.

15. Sharpen your listening skills: Listening carefully to each question will help you answer exactly how the hiring manager wants. Practice slowing things down and not rushing yourself with your answer as you listen to what people say. Use the words from their question when you’re formulating your answer.

If you need extra interview tips specific to you, consider meeting with a BetterUp coach. They’ll keep you focused on preparing for your interview and help you feel comfortable as you land your next job.

What about phone and video interviews?

Even if your position is in-person, you have to be ready for a job interview over the phone or via video. Surveys have found that since 2020, people have been meeting by video calls 50% more since the beginning of the pandemic.

Plus, 81% of those who worked remotely during the pandemic said they want at least a hybrid model or remote working style when the pandemic is over, too. It shows that remote work isn’t going anywhere anytime soon, and neither are phone or video interviews.

Getting ready for an interview done on the phone or via video might require a few different preparation techniques. But some of them still carry over to any type of interview. Being mindful of other ways to prepare yourself for a job interview that isn’t face-to-face only teaches you more for all occasions.

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Review these five tips on how to prepare for a video or phone interview:

  1. Ensure you know how to use the program you’ll be meeting on like Zoom or Google Meets
  2. Set yourself up in a quiet place with few distractions
  3. Have your resume or speaking notes nearby, but don’t stare at them if you’re on video
  4. Make sure your connection is solid and reliable
  5. Have a glass of water nearby in case you need it

The 8 most common interview questions

Some interview questions find their way into every interview. They’re common and allow the recruiter to better understand you and your abilities. But you won’t find the answers to these questions in the job description or company website (which is yet another reason why preparation is key).

When you have an idea of what the recruiter might ask, it gives insight into how you might prepare. Even if they don’t ask these specific questions, you’ll be ready for ones that draw on similar experiences and knowledge.

Here’s a list of questions that the recruiter might ask you during your interview:

  1. Why do you want to work here?
  2. Can you tell me about yourself?
  3. Where do you see yourself in five years?
  4. Can you tell me about a time when you encountered a challenge and how you overcame it?
  5. Why are you looking for a new job?
  6. What are your biggest strengths and weaknesses?
  7. Can you give me an example of when you made a mistake and what you did to fix it?
  8. What are two examples of how your previous work experience will help you do well in this job?

First impressions matter: Interview attire and etiquette

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It’s time for you to show the hiring manager what you have to offer and who you are. It’s why you’ve taken the time to learn how to prepare for an interview, and it starts with a great first impression

A very important aspect of that is attire. Make sure that you dress for the job you’re interviewing for. If the company has a dress code, like business attire, lean into that. But your interview outfit should make you feel comfortable, confident, and authentic. It should reflect you and your identity. 

And don’t forget interview etiquette, either. Remember to make eye contact, pay attention, and watch your body language. Take a breath before you begin answering, and listen to what the hiring manager has to say. Feel free to follow up after your interview by sending a thank you note or email. 

But most importantly, remember to bring your Whole Self to the interview. You have thoughtful ideas and valuable skills to contribute, so highlight them. As you prepare for your interview, don’t forget to be yourself.

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Published September 23, 2022

Maggie Wooll

Managing Editor

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