Preparing for a job interview should be an exciting time for you as a potential employee! Many job seekers are intimidated by hiring managers and the entire interview process. This article will break down a few key steps in preparing for a job interview.
- What you need to bring to an interview
- What you need to wear to an interview
- What kind of interview questions you should practice before the interview
Believe it or not, in about 10 minutes you are going to learn how preparing for a job interview can be simple and fun!
What to bring
Sometimes, it’s best to keep it simple when it comes to what you bring to an interview. I am going to recommend 6 things that you should bring that can make the difference between you getting the offer, or you getting the boot.
- Notebook: A notebook is an essential item to store your notepad, pen, and resumes in a professional manner. This immediately shows organizational skills to the employer as well as professionalism depending on the condition of the notebook. I recommend a plain black (or other dark colored) leather notebook that can fit a legal pad of paper inside of it.
- Notepad: Many employers will be impressed by the interest you are taking in the information they are giving you if you are taking notes. Remember, this notepad is not your girlfriend or boyfriend, you do not need to passionately stare at it while you take notes. A balance between note-taking and eye contact is very important!
- Pen: A notepad without a pen is pretty much useless unless of course, the purpose of this interview is to see who can make the best paper airplane. If that is the case, then I have two main words of advice. 1) Bring heavy paper. 2) Take that job after you win the contest because it sounds awesome!
- Resumes: I usually recommend having a minimum of 3 resumes in your notebook at all times. You never know whom you will run into and who will stop in on your interview. I have heard many stories where a top-level executive happened to be in the office on the day of the interview and requested a copy of the candidate's resume. If you are the one person who did not have an extra resume to give the CEO of the company, do you think you will be getting the job?
- Questions: This is probably the most dreaded part of the interview. The employer asks you tons of questions the entire time you are there and when they are all finished, they ask "Do you have any questions for me?" I would write down a couple questions in your notebook before your interview in order to show them that you clearly are interested and have been thinking about the position even before the interview. If they answer all of your questions during your interview, feel free to show them the questions that you had written down and then explain to them that they did such a great job interviewing that they answered all of your questions! But don’t stop there; show them how attentive you are by asking an unplanned question relevant to something that they told you throughout the interview.
- Smile (winning personality): I know this sounds cliché, but it really does work. Interviews can seem extremely repetitive after some time for the hiring manager. Often times something as small as a shining or even sometimes a goofy smile can make you stick out from your competition. If you are as stiff as a robot and have absolutely no personality, I can almost guarantee no one will want to hire you and spend time in the same office as you. Again, disregard everything I am saying if you are applying to become the office fax machine.
Preparing for a job interview by bringing these 6 simple things will put you ahead of 70% of your competition. If you don’t have these items, make an investment in your future and go get em!
What to wear
Choosing the appropriate interview attire can be a real pain! Take a deep breath and have no fear because your clothing guru is here. Appearance in the workplace is extremely important for many companies. For the most part, your recruiter should advise you on how you should dress when preparing for a job interview. If he/she did not, don’t be afraid to ask! It is a perfectly normal question. Worst-case scenario, you forget to ask, no biggie. In most situations, it’s usually better to overdress than to underdress.
Some companies such as Apple, Google, and start-ups believe in a more casual work environment. If you were interviewing at Apple you would most likely be advised to wear jeans and a polo t-shirt or button up. No suit and tie needed.
For more formal interviews, here are some examples of appropriate interview attire.
- Suit (black/gray/navy/etc.)
- Button up shirt (white is always safe, but other colors work too)
- Tie (red is a solid go-to color. Red = power; however, if possible I will typically match my tie with the companies colors that I am interviewing for)
- Long dress socks (black/gray/brown/etc.)
- Dress shoes (black/gray/brown/etc.)
- Belt (black/gray/brown/etc.)
Typically navy blue suits look pretty good with brown dress shoes and brown belt. Black suits look good with a black belt and black shoes. Gray suits look good with black/gray shoes and belts.
Optional: tie clip, cuff links, bow tie, and watch. (I usually would recommend at least one article of “bling, bling”.)
Fun Fact: Studies show that job seekers who wear a watch are much more likely to get the job than job seekers who do not wear a watch.
- Slacks (black will pretty much go with anything)
- Button down or blazer (formal interview apparel)
- Sweater (casual interview apparel)
- Heels (formal interview apparel)
- Flats or loafers (casual interview apparel)
Now, it is one thing to have nice clothes on your body, but please do not expect the nice clothes to mask any negative personal hygiene skills. It is extremely important when preparing for a job interview to remember to shower, brush your teeth, and tidy yourself up before going to an interview. There is nothing more distracting for an employer than an unkempt candidate. No matter how good of a fit you are for the job, the hiring manager will not hear a word you are saying if they are shrieking from foul body odor! Gross!
“Whoops, I just ate something smelly and now I have an interview!” Keep gum in your car or on your person at all times! Gum can be a lifesaver for interviews and so many other occasions.
Mock interview questions
Now that we have got you looking and smelling pretty, it is time for us to make you sound as good as you look! Preparing for a job interview is mainly a mental battle. In order to have the confidence that you will succeed in your interview, it is important for you to see yourself succeed on your own. Mock interviews are the best way to test yourself before you go into an interview.
I recommend that you practice answering general interview questions so that if you are asked, you will have a well-thought-out answer. Trust me, your competition will know exactly what they are supposed to say, do not be the only one without a good answer.
Listed below are the 16 most common interview questions. If you are interested in learning how to answer these questions (which I would imagine you are) check out the 16 Most Common Interview Questions.
- Can you tell me about yourself?
- Why do you want to work here?
- What interests you most about this position?
- Why should we hire you?
- What are your strengths?
- What are your weaknesses?
- Tell me about a time you dealt with a conflict at work?
- What is your greatest accomplishment?
- Why are you leaving your job?
- What is your dream job?
- Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
- Are you interviewing with any other companies?
- How would your friends describe you?
- What are three positive things your last boss would say about you?
- What kind of things do you like to do outside of work?
- Do you have any questions for me?
Preparing for a job interview
Once you know how to prepare for a job interview and have successfully done it once, it is usually pretty easy from there on out. Did you know that there is a company out there that will train you how to interview like a pro and provide mock interviews for you to practice? Standing out in an interview can be a really difficult challenge. Why waste time reading blogs online when you could have a Professional train you 1 on 1. Check out Find My Profession to learn more about our interview training and mock interviews.