HOW TO PREPARE FOR AN INTERVIEW
Interviews might seem intimidating, but there are several steps you can take to prepare yourself for a successful one! The 4 main steps are Research, Pre-Planning, The Interview, and Follow-up.
To see more in-depth steps just click the arrow in each section or just keep scrolling to see it all!
Preparing for an interview might seem intimidating, but there are several steps you can take to prepare yourself to have a successful interview. Really consider your career goals, your qualifications and experience, and if those align with the position you are interviewing for. Let’s look at the necessary steps to prepare for a successful interview.
1. EXAMINE THE JOB DESCRIPTION
While prepping for the interview, you should look at the job description as a guide. The job description will list the qualifications and professional experience that the potential employer is looking for in their ideal candidate. The more you can align yourself with these details, the more the employer will be able to see that you are qualified. The job description may also give you ideas about questions that may be asked during the interview.
2. CONSIDER YOUR GOALS AND QUALIFICATIONS
Prior to the interview, you should have a good understanding of why you’re qualified for the position and why you would be a good fit for the job. You should be prepared to explain your interest in the opportunity and the organization and how your experience aligns with this role.
3. RESEARCH THE COMPANY AND ROLE
Researching the company is a very important part of preparing for an interview. Make sure to review the company’s website, mission statement, and leadership team if it is available. LinkedIn and other social media platforms are also great tools to utilize for finding out more about the company. It will help provide context during your interview and will also help you prepare thoughtful questions.
Researching the company and role as much as possible may give you an edge over the competition. Not only that, but fully preparing for an interview will help you feel confident so you can be at your best. Here are a few things you should know before you interview:
Research the position you are interviewing for.
Some job descriptions may only give you a basic overview. A great idea would be to research other employment websites to get a better picture of what other qualifications this role may include. That information will not only prepare you with thoughtful questions about the position but will ensure that you're truly qualified if you get the job and help you vet whether this the right position for you.
What services or products does the company provide?
Even if the role isn't directly related to the company's product or service, you're still looking to be part of the team. You don't need to understand every detail, but you should have a basic understanding of what services and products the company offers.
What is their company culture?
Most companies are now using social media or blogs that describe their company culture and vibe in their industry. This information should give you an impression of the personality of the company and their core values. It's important that you fit within the company culture and share similar values.
4. PREPARE FOR COMMON INTERVIEW QUESTIONS
You won’t be able to predict every question you’ll be asked during an interview, but there are always a few common questions you can plan answers for. You might also consider developing an elevator pitch that describes who you are and what you do professionally.
Your focus should be on the opportunity, so never discuss salary or benefits during the interview. If the conversation comes up, you should be prepared to discuss your salary expectations. Remember, don’t low ball nor high ball yourself and if you’re unsure about what salary is appropriate to ask for there are many free websites that will give you a pay range based on your location, industry, and experience.
Here are a few examples of common interview questions:
What do you know about our organization and why do you want to work here?
The best way to prepare for this question is research their website and learn about their services, products, values, mission statement, history, and culture of the company. In your answer, mention the aspects of the company that appeal to you and align with your career goals.
Example: “I know (company name) is a leader in healthcare technology and has been recognized several times by HFMA for your innovation with hospital systems nationwide. Finding a company that is innovative, allows me to grow within an organization, and aligns with my values is very important to me.”
What are your greatest strengths?
This question gives you an opportunity to talk about your technical and soft skills. This is when you want to share your qualities and personal attributes and then relate them to the position you are interviewing for.
Example: “I have been told by my colleagues that I am excellent at building strong teams. I have the ability to see a situation from different perspectives and feel that my management style is collaborative, and I motivate my team members to a common goal. I select individuals who are problem solvers and are passionate about finding solutions to challenging issues.”
What is your biggest accomplishment and how did it impact the organization?
Example: “I developed a training manual for our customer service department which improved communication and expectations, which then decreased our attrition rate by 20%.”
What areas do you need to improve in?
Don’t fall into the self-doubt, “Negative Nancy” trap.
Example: “I believe we are always evolving and learning, and every day I strive to do my best. I am sure there are some areas I need to improve in, but nothing really stands out as it relates to this position.”
5. HAVE QUESTIONS FOR THE INTERVIEWER(S)
While many of your questions may be answered during the interview, it’s important to have some thoughtful questions prepared so your potential employer feels confident about you as a possible candidate. You should take time before the interview to prepare several questions for your interviewer(s). It demonstrates that you are serious about the position and you have done your homework. Here are some examples:
What qualities make someone successful in this role?
Describe a typical day for a person in this position?
What systems do you utilize in this department?
Why do you enjoy working here?
I’ve really enjoyed learning more about this opportunity. What is your timeline? (Or what are the next steps in the hiring process?)
6. CONDUCT MOCK INTERVIEWS WITH PEOPLE YOU KNOW
As they say, practice makes perfect. Conduct mock interviews with people you trust, like your friends, family or even your beloved recruiter! Your voice inflection and body language are extremely important during an interview. While some of these traits may come naturally to you, you may want to spend time going through the potential interview questions with a friend or family member or in front of a mirror. Practicing interviews is the best way to relieve anxiety and improve your confidence. The more you repeat your interview, the more confident you will be.
7. IN-PERSON INTERVIEWS
Print hard copies of your resume.
Most likely your interviewer will have a digital copy of your resume, but make sure to have hard copies available to present to multiple interviewers. It demonstrates you are prepared and organized. You should have at least five copies to provide to multiple interviewers, plus one for yourself to follow along. Make sure to have them in a professional-looking portfolio.
Rehearse explanations for any gaps in employment or other oddities that may appear on your resume. For example, you may have taken time off work to get your degree or take care of a family member.
You may also encounter questions about your resume that are awkward. It's important to be honest but professional in addressing them. For example, you may have been terminated from a job because of a conflict with your previous manager. Never speak negatively about a former employer. Consider these possible questions and prepare your answers in advance, so you don't say something you'll regret. Like the rest of the interview, it's best to prepare for these questions by writing notes and rehearsing your answers out loud.
Dress for success.
You only have one opportunity to make a first impression. Wearing your power suit is always a good option and to make sure it is fresh from the dry cleaner. Avoid wearing perfume or cologne, as some people are sensitive to smell.
Set everything out the night before, so that getting ready won’t cause any lateness or stress.
Early is on time!
Job interviews tend to be stressful for most people for many reasons but getting to the interview can be a challenge in itself. To avoid becoming too anxious for your commute, prepare yourself to ensure everything goes smoothly on the day. Here's how:
Search the location in advance: Best case scenario is to drive by the location before your interview to check out the parking options, take note of the traffic, and find the suite or office where your interview will be. If something is unclear, contact the company and ask the receptionist.
Leave early: Plan to arrive 15 minutes early to your interview. Many obstacles can make you late, such as traffic, accidents, construction, etc. If you arrive too early this gives you the opportunity to review your notes.
Bring the interviewer’s contact information: If a situation happens that causes you to be late, call the person who is interviewing you and make them aware of the situation. This is certainly not ideal, but most people are empathetic to these situations and understand that some things just can't be controlled. The worst thing you could do is show up late without any notice and try to explain yourself.
8. VIDEO AND PHONE INTERVIEWS
For video interviews, you still need to dress for success.
Make sure your technology is working and do a test run to make sure you know how to utilize it.
You will need to be in a quiet space with good lighting where you have good Wi-Fi, away from the kids and dogs.
Consider what the interviewer will see in your background and prepare it to look as professional as possible.
During the interview, make sure to have your resume, job description, notes, and questions in front of you for a quick resource.
9. SELL YOURSELF
One of the biggest challenges in an interview is selling yourself. Most people are uncomfortable with this idea but it’s important to do. By presenting metrics or stats to show your accomplishments or growth during your previous roles can really help in selling yourself during the interview.
This is your time to shine! Whatever professional accomplishments you have, don't be modest about sharing them during your interview. Just remember there is a big difference between confident and overconfident…and overconfident can leave a bad impression with the interviewer. Your potential employer wants to know that you'll be the right fit and that you can deliver something to the company. So, they need to know all the reasons that you can provide that for them. You want to make sure you are able to explain your highlights and home runs by using percentages and numbers, if possible, and how they impacted that organization.
10. DON'T DISCUSS YOUR PERSONAL LIFE; IT'S A TRAP
Many hiring managers want to make you feel comfortable, so people tend to let their guard down. Remember you are there for an interview, so stay away from sharing anything too personal.
If you don’t know the answer to a certain question, it is perfectly acceptable to pause for a moment and simply state,
“Let me think about that for a moment.” The employer will appreciate you taking the time to give them a thoughtful answer.
Be sure to provide specific examples wherever possible. It tells a story!
11. FOLLOW UP AFTER THE INTERVIEW
After your interview, you should follow up with the interviewer. Doing so reminds the interviewer of your conversation, shows them you are genuinely interested in the position, and gives you the opportunity to bring up points you may have forgotten. Here are a few steps you can follow when crafting a follow-up note or email:
First paragraph: Mention the specific job title and thank them for their time.
Second paragraph: Note the company’s name and the goals that seemed especially important to the person who interviewed you. Reiterate how your experience and accomplishments align with this position.
Final paragraph: Invite them to ask you any additional questions and close by saying you’re looking forward to hearing back.
Remember, taking time to fully prepare for an interview will ultimately help you feel more confident during the process. This will give you the best chance to showcase who you are and what you have to offer!
Best of luck to you in your job search!