How to Prepare for a Job Interview

How to Prepare for a Job Interview

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Jobs People Do | JobsPeopleDo.com

By Olivia Condlln-Wilby

Job interviews are stressful. Whether you’re preparing for your first one ever, or you have a hundred of them under your belt, it’s normal to be at least a little bit nervous every time. Maybe you’re worried that you won’t have enough to talk about or that your mind will go blank in the moment. Perhaps you have a tendency to ramble and get off topic, and you’re worried you won’t actually express what you need to say in the interview. Whatever your concern, a little preparation can go a long way to helping you feel confident and ready to shine when your interview date finally comes. Spend some time following these steps, and you’ll find interviews to be much less stressful, especially as you do more and more of them.

  1. Do your research.

Before your interview, take some time to research the organization and the position you’re interested in. Most companies have a website or social media that you can scan for information about the organization’s mission, goals, activities, history, and services or products. It’s common for an interviewer to ask something like, “What do you know about our organization?” Be prepared to answer this question with a few key points from your research. To a hiring manager, this preparation shows commitment, enthusiasm, organization, and professionalism.

It’s also a good idea to re-read the job listing before your interview. What skills and competencies are required for the role? Which of your past experiences are most relevant? You can start to anticipate some of the questions they may ask based on the content of the job listing. For example, if the listing mentions that they want someone who’s “a strong communicator,” you can bet that they will ask you to discuss your interpersonal and communication skills, as well as your experiences working with others.

  1. Make notes.

Think about your most relevant skills and experiences and start to write down some of the examples you plan to discuss in your interview. Everyone takes notes differently, but a tried-and-true method for job interviews is the STARR method. For each skill or experience you wish to highlight, you can use this approach to structure your answer:

Situation: Describe the general context for your answer. For example: “I was volunteering at my local library, reading stories to children.”

Task: Identify the specific task that you had to complete. For example: “I had to keep a group of young children focused and engaged for 45 minutes, without losing control of the audience.”

Action: Explain the actions you took to complete the task. For example: “I encouraged audience participation by letting children pick the books and take turns reading so that they would stay focused and engaged during story time.”

Result: Describe the positive outcome(s) of your actions. For example: “The children remained happy and engaged throughout the story, and many of them returned the following week because they had such a good time.”

Relevance: Make a connection to the job you’re currently interested in. For example: “This experience demonstrates my ability to work with children and keep them on topic for extended periods of time. As a camp counsellor, I would use these skills to maintain control of my group of campers and ensure that each day runs smoothly and enjoyably.”

You may not use the STARR method for every single answer during the interview, but writing out a few examples beforehand can help you reflect on your qualifications and figure out how to describe them to the interviewer in the best possible way.

  1. Prepare your questions.

Every interviewer is trying to assess whether you’d be a good fit for the role, but the interview is also a chance for you to find out more about the organization and whether you’d truly be happy working there. At the end of an interview, you will likely be asked something like, “Do you have any questions for me?” This is a perfect opportunity for you to gain some clarity about the job, the work culture, and the people you’d be working with if you’re successful in getting hired. Some sample questions you may want to ask include:

  • How would you describe the work culture at [Insert Organization]?
  • What is your favourite thing about working there? What is your least favourite?
  • What would a typical day in this role look like for me?
  1. Avoid common pitfalls.

There are some major “don’ts” when it comes to preparing for job interviews, and it’s important to avoid making these common mistakes.

  • Do not walk into an interview without any background knowledge about the organization. It definitely won’t make a good impression on the interviewer if you end up having to admit that you don’t know anything about the company you’re trying to work for.
  • Do not try to “wing it,” especially if it’s your first time. Even if you feel confident beforehand, you may find yourself getting nervous and flustered during the interview, especially if you haven’t done many of them before (or at all). Prepare, prepare, prepare!
  • Do not ask superficial or “Google-able” questions. Not only does this waste an opportunity to find out more valuable insights, but it also reflects poorly on you if you ask a question that could have easily been answered by skimming the company website.

By following these simple guidelines, you can prepare properly for every job interview that comes your way and avoid the missteps most people make during the interview process.

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