how to prepare and ace an interview


Guidelines to preparing yourself for a successful interview

Preparing for an interview might seem intimidating at first, but there are several steps you can take to prepare yourself for a successful interview.

Take time to think about what makes you unique relative to the job and employer. Also consider what your goals are. Research the company and study the job description to help you figure it out. Here are the steps to prepare for an interview.

Study the job description

Always start with the job description as a guide. The job description lists the qualifications that the employer is looking for in a candidate. The more you relevant details to the job that you can highlight about yourself, the more the employer will be able to see that you could be qualified. You can also use the the job description (and company website) to start formulating questions you should ask your potential employer.

Why do you want this job

You will probably be asked why you want this job you are interviewing for. You should always have a good understanding why you want this job, be part of the company, and what makes you a qualified candidate.

Research the company & Job

In order to be properly prepared for an interview, researching the company is crucial. It will help give you a competitive edge over other candidates and allow for insightful conversation and questions for your interviewers. Below are a few things you should research before your interview:

  • Research the job
    Read the job description carefully and make sure that you understand all the job’s requirements. Prepare questions about the position and expectations. Also research similar jobs and reach out to people in the current position before the interview, if possible. This way you can get an idea of what the daily activities will be. During the interview, do not be afraid to ask for clarification about the requirements of the role.

  • Study the company’s products or services
    It is important to learn about the company’s products or services. You don't necessarily need to understand every detail, but you should have a basic understanding of the major products or services the company offers.

  • Research the company culture
    That’s what we do here at careerICQ. We discuss the company culture, values, team, and why the employer is a fit for you just as you are a fit for them. Alternatively, many companies usually have social media accounts and blogs that you can visit separately that discuss their company culture. Finding the right company is just as important as finding the right job.

Study your answers to common interview questions

Of course interview questions aren’t predictable, but there are a few common questions you can prepare for. Additionally, depending on your line of work, for example if you are interviewing for sales, there are additional common questions for that. It also might be helpful to chat with colleagues in the role to get examples of interview questions.

Below is a list of the most common interview questions:

  • Tell me about yourself.

  • Why do you want to work here?

  • Why did you choose this career path?

  • What motivates you?

  • What are your greatest strengths?

  • What are your weaknesses?

  • Where do you see yourself in five years?

  • Why are you looking to leave your current position?

  • What did you like most about your last position?

  • What did you like least about your last position?

  • What was your favorite subject in school and why?

  • What you your last employer say about you?

  • What would your colleagues say about you?

  • What do you do like to do outside of work?

  • What’s your dream job?

  • Do you have any questions for us?

Bring several copies of Your resume

Yes, you already completed your application digitally, but make it easy on your potential employer by printing copies to present to the hiring manager. Have at least a few copies to provide to the interviewers. This shows you are prepared and thoughtful. Make sure to know and memorize your resume and prepare your answers for any explanations that might appear odd on your resume. Like the rest of the interview, it's best to write these answers and practice with people you trust.

Practice Makes Perfect

Just like anything you do in life, practice makes perfect. Practicing interview will help you perfect your answers and gain confidence. Though it may feel a bit tedious, practicing the interview process will make you more comfortable. Practice with colleagues, mentors, or family as much as you can or even simply practice your answers out loud. Practicing out loud gives allows you to refine your answers and memorize them.

Don’t feel bad if you don’t do well on the first few interviews that you have. It is normal to feel anxious and once you have a bit more experience, you’ll feel confident in no time.

Pro tip: If you don’t know the answer to a certain question, it is totally acceptable to pause and say, “Let me think about that for a moment.” Taking time to answer shows thoughtfulness and your interviewer will appreciate that.

Sell yourself

Most people are uncomfortable with the idea of selling themselves. However, highlighting your accomplishments and explaining what may set you apart from other applicants, does not have to feel like a sale. As a matter of fact, employers expect it from candidates. Highlight the skills that relate to the job and think about how your personal experiences can add value to the role and the company overall.

Your answers should be short but detailed. If you have data or previous reviews to show your previous achievements and advancement, they’re a great idea to bring to the interview. This could be how you’ve increased social media engagement or brought in sales for example. Whatever it is, don't be modest about sharing them. Your potential employer wants to know that you could be a good fit for the role and the company - don’t be shy to show them.

Follow up

After your interview, you should follow up with the people who have interviewed you. A simple email will allow you to stand out from other candidates and remind the employer of the conversation. Sending a follow up email shows that you are interested in the position and company, and thankful for the time they gave in interviewing you. It also allows you to reiterate all the important parts of the conversation and gives you an opportunity to bring up anything you might have forgotten.

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