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.
There’s a lot to think about, after all, and that can be a little nerve-wracking.
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 interviews
Believe it or not, in about 10 minutes you are going to know some key points in how to prepare for that next big job interview!
What to Bring to an Interview
Sometimes, it’s best to keep it simple when it comes to what you bring to an interview.
Here are five things you should bring that can make the difference between you getting the offer, or you getting the boot.
A notebook is an essential item where you can 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 inside of it.
2. Notepad and Pen
You won’t remember every important thing from the interview, so it’s a good idea to take notes.
Many employers will be impressed by your interest and diligence in the new information they are giving you.
However, remember to not put all your focus into taking notes.
Be sure to balance your attention between taking notes and making eye contact with the hiring manager.
It’s a good idea to have a minimum of three resumes in your notebook at all times.
You never know whom you will run into or 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?
Having extra copies of your resume isn’t just a good idea, but it also shows you take the initiative to be prepared.
Let’s be honest, this is probably the most dreaded part of the interview.
Throughout the interview, the hiring manager asks tons of questions and you do your best to answer well.
Then, once they’ve asked all their questions, they turn to you and ask, "Do you have any questions for me?"
Be prepared with a couple of questions written in your notebook before your interview.
This will show the hiring manager that you 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.
Explain to them that they did such a great job interviewing that they answered all 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.
5. Smile (Winning Personality)
This might sound like a 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 five 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 to an Interview
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!
This 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, match your tie with the company’s colors that you are 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 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 wear nice clothes, but please do not expect 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!
“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 presentable, 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 sixteen 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?
For even more interview questions, check out our article 50 Top Job Interview Questions.