With the economy the way it is, mostly due to COVID-19, many people are finding themselves laid off and looking for work. Others may have just completed their education or training, but are struggling to compete with thousands of other job seekers for the limited number of job openings out there. It definitely helps your chances to have extensive schooling, training, and experience in your chosen field, but what happens when an employer has a few prospects for an opening, and the other potential employees have the same assets that you have? This is where the interview process comes in – the interview is the deciding factor for most employers on who they will hire in the end. This is why it is so important to be completely prepared for an interview, so that you will be the person they choose to employ.
The most important thing you can do to prepare for an interview is to research the interviewing company and know what the position entails. The more familiar you are with the company’s services, policies, products, and action statement, the more promising you’ll look to the potential employer. They will be relieved that you already know the basics of the company, because that means a little less effort and training on their part, and you will also come across as being sincerely interested in obtaining a career with that particular company. When someone walks into an interview with absolutely no knowledge of the company, they give the impression of being willing to work anywhere – it doesn’t matter where – and this business just happened to be the one that asked them to come in for an interview. Employers want to hire people who are enthusiastic about working with them specifically. You should also find out beforehand what the position is, exactly. This will allow you to figure out how your assets would be used on the job, and which personal strengths you should highlight during the interview. You may have won many awards for your fantastic pumpkin pies, but if you are applying for a position in Human Resources, this is not something that the interviewer will care about.
Make a list of your most valuable strengths before the interview, and write out a list of questions that are commonly asked. This way you can practice promoting yourself and you will be able to answer the common questions more quickly and with more confidence. The interview process is very time consuming for the individuals conducting the interview, so they will appreciate direct, to-the-point answers that have already been well thought out. Some common questions in interviews, regardless of what the position is, include: Why do you want to work for our company? Tell me a little bit about yourself (this means school, training, work experience, and a little bit about your extracurricular activities/hobbies). What strengths do you think you will bring to this position? What are your weaknesses? Rehearsing your answers before the interview will decrease your chances of stuttering and stumbling over your words trying to figure out what the interviewer wants to hear.
The simplest components of preparing for a job interview are dressing appropriately, even if the conversations is taking place virtually,, on a Zoom or MS Teams session. If you're having a face-to-face meeting (something rare these days!), knowing where the interview will be held, arriving on time, and bringing an extra copy of your resume, cover letter, and references. Arriving to an interview with your own copy shows the employer that you are prepared, and will also help them out if you applied for the job online, or if you didn’t provide references prior to the interview. It will also help them if they simply happened to lose their copy of your resume. If they have their own copy on hand, then it will help you with questions concerning work experience and schooling, etc. – you won’t need to guess at the names of managers, phone numbers, or dates of employment for previous jobs, because you can use your resume as a reference.
Being on time to an interview is crucial, so you should plan your mode of transportation well ahead of time, and plan to arrive a little earlier than your interview is scheduled. Keep in mind that if you’re driving, you may need extra time to find parking, and if you’re taking the bus, take an early one in case of delays... and don't forget to bring a mask along with you, while this pandemic is going on. If the conversation is virtual, make sure you have the link and the necessary infrastructure up and running prior to the scheduled time.
Overall, the most important aspect of going to a job interview is to be well prepared. The more prepared you are, the more professional, intelligent, and confident you will appear to your potential employer. And, when faced with similar applicants, the potential employer will always choose the individual who rocked the interview. So be prepared, and good luck!