Undergoing a job interview is a rite of passage for any working professional. Job interviews are often thought of as a one-sided process, where the employer is the one doing the evaluating and the candidate is the one being evaluated; yet, job interviews are better understood as a two-way street. Employers are able to access each candidate’s skills and qualifications, and use their answers to determine whether they will be a good fit for the position. At the same time, candidates can view the interview as an opportunity to also ask the employer questions and learn more about the position and company. There is a lot at stake for both parties involved—with more pressure on the candidate’s end to impress the interviewer. That being the case, it is important to be prepared for any interview because it can greatly increase your chances of securing the role.
Here are 6 tips on how to best prepare for a job interview:
Research the company
Do your due diligence on the company you are applying to. A common question interviewers will ask is: “Why do you want to work here?” Citing specific examples (projects, initiatives, resources, etc.) as a response to that question demonstrates a genuine interest for the position and company, as it informs the interviewer that you took the time to learn more. Tailoring your answers to the company’s mission and values can also help indicate your alignment with their goals and culture.
Review the job description
Remind yourself of what the position you are interviewing for is. Take note of any qualifications and skills required for the role and whether you have any experiences or anecdotes that relate to them. It is important to know what the job will expect from you, as it can help you customize your responses to best position yourself as the best candidate. If any gaps or questions remain, those are things you can ask towards the end of the interview.
Practice your elevator pitch
One of the first things—if not the first—that an interviewer will ask is for you to introduce yourself. This is where having an elevator pitch for yourself and rehearsing it can come in handy. Your elevator pitch should provide background into who you are, mention your past experiences, and tie back to why you are currently interviewing for this particular role; examples of that closing statement about how your skills align with the position, why you would be a great addition to the company, how the position fits into your career goals, etc.
Look over common interview questions
Knowing common interview questions allows you to anticipate and practice how you would respond to them. Interview questions can usually be categorized as one of two types: behavioral and technical. Behavioral ones focus on your past experiences to help the interviewer understand how you would behave in certain situations and predict your future performance; thus, it is crucial to include specific examples and anecdotes. Commonly, behavioral questions begin with phrases like “tell me about a time when” or “give an example of”. An example is as follows: Tell me about a time when you had a conflict with a team member. What was the conflict and how did you solve it?
Technical questions, on the other hand, focus on a candidate’s knowledge, skills, and expertise in a particular field or area. These types of questions are mostly asked in the tech, business, or healthcare industries; examples include software engineers asked to complete a coding challenge, consultants asked to perform a case study, or healthcare professionals asked to explain the process of a medical procedure. Technical questions may require more preparation because interviewers are looking for a particular skill set.
Use the STAR method
The STAR method is an interview technique that helps you structure your response to a behavioral question. It stands for Situation, Task, Action, Result. You first provide background to the situation, explain the challenge, describe the steps taken to address the challenge, and close with the results of your actions.
Let’s take the question from the behavioral example above and apply the STAR method to craft a response:
- Situation: I was previously working as a social media intern at a small food start-up. I was responsible for sourcing images from our in-house photographer to post on Instagram weekly. One week, our photographer refused to provide me with the images I needed for the week’s post.
- Task: I had to address the photographer’s non-compliance to ensure that I could get my portion of the work complete.
- Action: I first approached the photographer privately and asked why he refused to provide the images to me. I waited for him to respond before continuing, and he informed me that he didn’t have the images ready in time. I communicated to him that it was important for him to let me know earlier if that was the case because my work is dependent on his.
- Result: Together, we were able to figure out a plan to approach the issue of late images if it ever arose again. He agreed to create a repository of old images I could pull from, which proved to be very helpful when I ran out of recent pictures to use. I’m glad I took the time to communicate with him, as this solution proved to be more effective than the system we had before.
Conduct a mock interview for practice
One of the best ways to prepare for an interview is to do a mock interview. Have someone you trust and are comfortable with act as the interviewer and ask you questions. This will allow you to get a sense of what the interview will be like, which may help lessen your nerves during the actual meeting. The more you practice, the more confident you will be in an interview setting.
How Student Hires Can Help
Student Hires aims to educate students in areas related to career development. We provide one-of-a-kind programs for students to explore different careers and gain relevant experience before transitioning into entry-level roles. Our workforce development programs prepare students for future careers in a variety of Career Technical Education sectors.
Job Fair Blog Series
Leading up to the job fair, we will be publishing a new article each week in our Job Fair Blog Series. Below are the articles:
- 5 Tips for Crafting the Perfect Resume
- Elevator Pitches: Everything Students Should Know
- Dress for Success: 4 Tips On How to Dress for a Job Interview
- Networking 101: Tips on How to Build Your Professional Network
- The Power of LinkedIn: 6 Tips on Building a Good LinkedIn Profile
- Ace Any Job Interview With These 6 Tips
- 5 Important Things To Do After a Job Fair
A job interview is your time to shine. How can you make sure you shine the brightest among a sea of other candidates? Two words: interview preparation. By taking the time to prepare for the interview, you are putting yourself in the best position to secure the job. There are many different components that go into interview prepping; but as you do more interviews, you will get used to the process.