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Proper preparation for an interview can make or break your chances of getting the job. We review everything you can do to prepare yourself thoroughly and show up with confidence.
Why it is worth preparing for a job interview
While it’s easy to fantasize about completing a star hiring interview without doing as much as looking up the company website, this is never nine times out of ten the case. There are obvious reasons why you should take the time to prepare for a job interview like: you want the best chances of landing the job.
It is fantastic. But often the benefits of preparing for an interview are not so obvious. It is not uncommon for employers to hire someone they like or feel comfortable with. The interesting thing is that getting liked and participating in an interview with an aura of comforting confidence is not conveyed by how many facts you memorized about the company, but how calm and prepared you come out.
If everything about you reads “prepared”, you are the more memorable candidate – even if you do not meet all the requirements and qualifications at the job opening. Preparedness creates trust. And trust creates equality and rapport. Spend the right amount of time preparing for the job interview, and see how you naturally go up in ante in both areas as your chances of landing the concert increase.
The investment is necessary to prepare for a job interview
The biggest investment needed to prepare for a job interview is your time. More preparation time is directly related to a successful interview experience.
In terms of financial investment, there are a few potential options that may be worth exploring, from professional, well-equipped clothing to wear to the interview to taking courses and certifications that elevate your qualifications to the job you want. One of our favorite tools that takes some time and money (but not much) is to create an online portfolio.
With a tool like Squarespace, you can create your own online portfolio without having to know any particular design skills. Think of it as your personal online resume. These days, everything is digital. Including first impressions. Besides the fact that your social media profiles speak for who you are, it helps to create an online portfolio regardless of the industry you operate in, to stand out from job candidates who may not have taken the time to create one.
With Squarespace’s many website templates, it’s easy to get started creating a professional looking website that showcases your skills and best work. Once you sign up, you have access to its drag-and-drop builder to create a website that matches your personal brand.
Get started building your personal website here.
7 steps to preparing for a job interview
When you break down preparing for a job interview in a few important steps, you get overwhelmed and have an easier time cultivating the prepared trust we talked about earlier.
# 1 – Create your online resume
Part of standing out is showing what you do. Once you have created your online resume, it adds an extra layer of credibility. It is also a way to manage your perceived image by showing your best work and results. If you want to take it a step further, blogging about what you are most knowledgeable about is a perfect way to show that you know your stuff. Once employers see it online, they get to see how valuable you can be as an addition to their team. At the very least, your site should include:
A website One on one page A contact page A blog or portfolio A PDF that can be downloaded from your CV (optional)
With Squarespace, creating a website is easy once you have chosen a template that matches what you are trying to portray. You also need to buy your domain name. This can be your first and last name, or you can name your site something else that fits. You can either transfer an existing domain to Squarespace or register your new domain name through it.
From there, it’s a matter of making your site visually appealing to Squarespace’s site builder, adding your personal details and finally uploading your information. Are there relevant portfolio pieces worth sharing? Any personal projects that match the position you want to be worth publishing?
You also have the option of providing a link to a downloadable PDF. Although it’s not absolutely necessary if it’s not something you feel comfortable with. When you are done, you will be left with a personal website that shows your best skills that you can easily share with employers.
# 2 – Do your research
For any interview you go into, you will want to take the first step and make sure you have done your preliminary research. What is the company’s vision? What was the job responsibility stated in the job advertisement? How is the company structured and where does the open job position fit within it?
Is there a company website you can explore that will shed more light on the company’s who, what, when, where and how? Is there a media buzz around the company that you could make sure to inform yourself about?
How are the company’s social profiles? What qualities does it show that you could put on and highlight when you were for the interview?
Anything you can not find answers to can go on a list of questions you have prepared to ask at the interview. Part of your research is to pay close attention to the job description. That way, you enter the interview with big eyes, and if questions arise about your position, you can take them with the interviewer.
# 3 – Practice real interview questions
Although it is almost impossible to measure the exact questions you are asked in a given interview, there are still some general questions you can practice answering that will help you prepare for the process.
If you’ve not in doubt about what interviewers tend to ask, a quick Google search can help remedy it. To help, here’s a quick list of interview questions you can think through and practice answering in advance:
Why are you the best person for this position? What are your biggest strengths and weaknesses? What relevant experience have you had that will help you succeed in this position? Where do you see yourself five years from now? Why do you want to work for this company? Tell me about the most difficult project you had to complete at your previous job and how you handled it. Why is there a gap in your employment history? What is your skill? How do you want to improve? How do you handle stressful situations? What are your passions outside of work? Why did you leave your last position? How do you use your leadership skills in the workplace? What is one thing our company can improve on?
Do not be afraid to ask a friend to help you practice some of the more common interview questions. Feedback from people you trust can help you refine how you approach each question, as well as your delivery.
# 4 – Prepare a set of relevant questions
“Do you have any questions for us?” should never be met with silence or a resounding “no”. You should always have questions about the position or the company. It shows your genuine interest in the job opening, how the company works and how your position fits within it. It also highlights your initiative, your research and your personality.
Sometimes you can think of questions on the spot. But to make sure you do not empty (it happens) it is a wise thing to prepare a set of possible questions.
Some thoughtful and relevant questions may appear:
What does a typical day look like for this position? Is there anything stopping you from hiring me? Do you offer career development opportunities? What are the most urgent projects you are currently working on? Are there gaps in your team’s skills you want to fill? What is the main responsibility for this role? What does the onboarding process look like? What goals or expectations do you have for this role? What would you say is the best thing about working here?
While it may not have looked like it at first, the interview is a two-way street. You do not have to be the only one answering key questions. Just as the interviewer is trying their best to accurately fill the position, you are also trying to gauge whether it is the company that is worth pouring your time and energy into. Make it a point to showcase it. Ask questions. But also listen to the actual answers. Take notes if you need to.
# 5 – Practice and pay attention to your body language
Practicing and becoming aware of your body language can feel a little performative. But you are trying to give a good first impression. Ultimately, a job is a value transaction and you want to make sure you present yourself as someone who can bring value to the table.
This can mean practicing and paying attention to your body language so that you convey your most positive traits and give a solid first impression. Your body language is a quiet way to sell yourself. Different ways of expressing oneself can be interpreted differently.
For example, you will not be sitting in an interview with your arms crossed. Worse, you will not avoid eye contact and give a half-hearted handshake. These things sound obvious, but they are easy to fail at the moment, especially if you are particularly nervous about the interview. Do not be afraid to practice with a friend and take it seriously. You radiate more confidence than if you go into an interview completely cold turkey.
# 6 – Assemble a bragging folder
Sure, we might have gotten a little naughty with this subheading. But before an interview, you will take the time to put together your “bragging folder” filled with a few important pieces about you that put you in the best light.
These include things like:
More than one copy of your resume A list of your best references in case they ask Printed samples of your work (if applicable) A copy of your cover letter Note material A set of prescribed questions about the job (it’s okay to write them down )
Your boast folder shows your readiness, your skill and your willingness to do more than the minimum. Without one, you risk putting yourself in a position where you are not ready to give solid answers to interview questions that may give you the job.
# 7-Get ready to send a follow-up email
A follow-up email can help keep you in mind. It also shows that you are really interested in the open position and that you did not just move on to other job interviews. Your email does not have to be long. As long as it covers the basics, it should land well.
You can start by thanking the interviewer for their time. Be sure to mention what position you were interviewing for, as they are probably dealing with more than one open position. Then you can take some tips from the questions you asked during the interview process.
Were there any urgent projects they were working on that you could take up? Was there a need you talked about that you have a specific skill? Mentioning key elements that you kept track of during the interview process can help show your interest as well as how much value you can offer if you are hired. Let them know that you are open to any further questions they may have and that you hope to be in touch soon. The more concise, specific and to the point your email is, the better.
Interviewing is a bit of an involved process. But with some general tips in the right direction, you can be sure to increase your game. However, the learning journey never ends. That’s why we also came up with a guide to cultivating your personal brand.
Are you interviewing for a project manager position? We have just the guide for you that contains everything you need to know to enable yourself to land the job. Or maybe you’re on the other side of the table and you need to know all about creating the perfect sales job descriptions and titles.
Last but certainly not least, you will want to check out our guide to formatting your site, whether you are creating a personal online portfolio or otherwise, for the best results.
This article is written by today’s Daily Eggspert.
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