Preparing for the interview
You got the call; you scored a job interview. Now to prepare. Many times, preparing for an interview takes more time than the interview itself, but it is worth it. A job interview is the first step to a lifetime of work, so plan accordingly. Here are some tips to help you prepare for your next interview:
Do your research
At the very minimum, review the company’s website. Many employers will ask applicants what they know about the company, so you should have a good grasp of their business. Other important ways to gain information about the company include:
- Look at the company page on LinkedIn. This page will contain information they want people to know about them.
- Google the company name to see if they have been in the news recently.
- Research their competitors and Google the industry. Look for new developments.
- Check to see if they publicly traded. If they are, look up their stock price to review their history. You can also read market reports to see if and why their stock prices might be fluctuating.
- If appropriate, go to their place of business. A few years ago, one student received an interview with a major consumer products company. She went to Wal-Mart to review all of their products, packaging and placement. This gave her good perspective on the marketplace and on the company’s market share.
Dress to impress
- First impressions really do matter — especially in a job interview.
- Wear a professional suit if it is a professional position. Overdressed is always better than underdressed. If the interviewer has indicated that you can dress business casual, remember the emphasis is always on the business and not the casual.
- Be neatly pressed. Wrinkled clothing makes an employer think you and your workspace will be messy.
- Make sure your clothes are not too tight and/or uncomfortable. Wearing clothes that do not fit will send the wrong impression.
- Less is more. Wear minimal jewelry, cologne, perfume and makeup. You want to be remembered as a professional, not for your fragrance or being too flashy.
- Shine your shoes. Many employers will look at an interviewee’s shoes.
Plan for success
- Get a good night’s sleep. We all perform better when we are well rested.
- Eat a meal or snack before you go. The interview may last longer than expected, and it is better to have a full stomach rather than one that is growling.
- Arrive early. Leave your house in plenty of time to accommodate traffic and delays. I recommend arriving in the lobby 10 minutes ahead of the interview.
- Leave your cellphone in the car. This allows you to resist the temptation to surf the web while waiting or to receive text messages during the interview. Employers want you focused on the interview.
- Fresh breath is important, so use a breath mint before going into the interview. Do not chew gum.
Taking these steps will help you tackle the interview with confidence and make a great first impression.