If you go into a job interview unprepared, you risk losing the job offer, wasting your time, and possibly even embarrassing yourself. However, you can prevent bad interviews by making sure you’re well-prepared long before you go in.
Here are some tips that will prepare you for your next big job interview.
Dress to impress
This one should be obvious, but it’s surprising how often we see people showing up to interviews wearing overly casual attire. We’ve even heard of people who went to job interviews wearing sweatpants!
They say you should dress for the job you want, not the job you have. While that saying has been repeated enough that it seems a bit trite, it’s also good advice that’s stood the test of time. You should always dress for the job you’re applying for.
If you’re struggling with this at all, don’t worry. We put together a whole article about how you should dress for a healthcare job interview.
Research the company you’re interviewing with
It’s very likely that in an interview, you’ll be asked what led you to the company, or what it is about the company that makes you want to work for them. These questions are great to ask for an interviewer because they weed out people who seem uninterested. If you don’t prepare to answer these questions, you’ll be the person who gets weeded out.
Also, you might bump into the company president while you’re interviewing and have no idea who that person is. This could lead to a missed opportunity to introduce yourself, or even worse, a situation where you make a bad impression on the person who matters most.
Do your research. Investigate what the company does. Read their mission statement and memorize it if you can. Look into the company history. Learn about the company’s leadership, and get to know some of the names of the people you might be working with. Most importantly, prepare to answer any questions about why you chose to interview with the company.
We know all of this takes time and effort, but time and effort are exactly what a potential employer wants from you. Show them you’re prepared to give them that.
Follow instructions as closely and as literally as possible
Every company has a slightly different way of doing things, and that extends to the hiring process. It’s likely they’ve posted a list of guidelines for job applicants to follow. You should treat these guidelines as if they are absolute and follow them to the letter.
If a job application requests a resume written in a particular font, make sure you use the font that was requested. If they ask you to fill out a questionnaire, make sure you fill it out completely. If they want you to post a cover letter in the body of an email, make sure you’re not including it as an attachment. If they want a resume in PDF form, don’t submit a Word doc.
While guidelines like these might seem stifling and unnecessary, it’s likely that there’s a purpose to every single one of them. On top of that, companies don’t want to hire people who can’t follow directions. If you don’t do what they ask this early in the application process, how can they be sure you would follow directions in the workplace?
If the interview is remote, make sure your equipment works beforehand
We’ve written an entire article about remote interviews, and you should read that if you’re preparing for one. However, we think this piece of advice is so important that it’s worth repeating here too.
If the company you applied for has asked you to use a specific application (such as Skype, Zoom, or Google Meet, etc.) make sure you know how to use the application beforehand. Test the app. Make sure your camera and mic are set up properly. If possible, set up a chat with a friend using that app so you can verify that there are no unexpected technical issues.
Before the interview starts, you should already know that everything is working properly. That way you can simply focus on the interview without stressing about potential issues.
Find out how long the drive is
If you’re going to an onsite interview, make sure you find out how long the drive is expected to take. You might even consider doing a dry run, driving to the location a day early and timing the trip.
Ideally, you will be onsite about fifteen minutes early and you’ll be checking in about five to ten minutes before the interview starts. If you can time your trip with precision, this will be easy for you. If you don’t plan things out ahead of time, however, you run the risk of showing up late. And you should never show up late for a job interview.
Make sure you’re comfortable talking about your strengths and weaknesses
Far too often, people are uncomfortable talking about themselves with a potential employer. Talking up your strengths can feel like boasting, while talking about weaknesses makes it feel like you’re convincing them to not hire you. You need to find the balance between these things.
Be prepared to talk about the things you’ve accomplished at previous jobs and explain how those skills will be relevant to your new one, should you be hired. When you talk about weaknesses, you need to show that you’re aware of those things, and also that you have a plan for not making them into liabilities. Show that you’re willing to learn and willing to grow.
Most importantly, make sure you have a good idea of what you’re going to say before you set foot on campus. These are tough questions, and you don’t want to try to answer them on the fly.
Prepare a list of questions to ask at the end of the interview
Inevitably, you’ll be asked at the end of the interview if you have any follow-up questions. This is a golden opportunity to make yourself stand out, so don’t squander it. Be ready to ask the right questions.
If this part of the interview is often a stumbling block for you, don’t sweat it. We’ve got a list of potential follow-up questions that are very effective. Feel free to use them.
A little bit of prep work goes a long way, and this is as true in regards to job interviews as it is in any other circumstance. Follow the guidelines we’ve provided above and you should be well on your way to making a great first impression.