How to Prepare for a Job Interview
You Got an Interview! Now What? It’s time to learn how to prepare for a job interview!
Congratulations on landing an interview. Now it is time to prepare. Use the tips below to think about how to go through the process of how to prepare for a job interview, what to be aware of during an interview, and what to consider after the interview is over.
The type of interview matters. There is a wide range of interview types to consider. As a student, this may be your first experience interviewing for a full-time job, whether it is for a summer internship or for your first (or next) permanent position. Is this an initial phone/online interview to weed out the initial batch of candidates? Are you are part of a second or third round of interviews for just the finalists for the position? There are different approaches depending on the type of interview.
Before, During, After. The interview isn’t just about the time when you are face-to-face or device-to-device with the company representatives. Their impression of you may have started with a resume and application, but it will be greatly affected by what you do pre-interview, during the interview, and how you follow-up post-interview. Make sure you read the second article on “During and After the Interview” to make sure you have learned the whole process and are aware of how to prepare for a job interview.
Tips for Before the Interview
Know yourself. First, carefully review your resume and cover letter to make sure you know what you sent to this particular employer. You may send out the same information to all employers, which makes the job easier, but not as targeted. Don’t confuse the employer by not being familiar with what you said to them. Remember, they may only have that one impression of you so far. Look carefully again at the strengths and weaknesses you may have as they are found on your resume. Be prepared to answer questions about yourself in general and your likes and dislikes. Ways of working that you prefer. Travel desires. International experience and plans. There is much that can’t be found in the typical resume, but you can bet your employer has already developed a list of questions to probe a little deeper to better understand you and your way of working.
Know the employer and interviewers. Next, carefully review the information you have available about the company and the people who will be interviewing you. Review the company website. Find out whether they have been in the news. Do searches on the individuals and check out their profiles on places like LinkedIn. Be a good investigative reporter and find out whether they have made presentations at conferences or have been interviewed or guests on podcasts. They will appreciate you doing the homework. If an employer gets the impression that you haven’t done your homework about the company, their products, and services, plus the challenges and opportunities their industry faces, you are already losing out. Don’t forget to look at their social media as well. They’ve likely looked for yours. Also ask friends, family, and professors about whether they know anything about the company and whether other students have been hired by the company in the past. Take advantage as well of the career services office to find out what they know about the company’s history of recruiting on campus and any feedback that may have been received.
Know the position. Carefully reread what they have sent you about the position. Job descriptions can be very specific if particular skills are targeted in specific areas, but they may also be quite broad if the employer seeks to have some flexibility in what they ask you to do. Determine how comfortable you are with how specific or general the description may be and be prepared to ask questions about how much flexibility there may be in the position. Go to a site like O*NET and search for the position title (or similar keywords). The site is great for providing detailed lists of job tasks and linking to other similar titles. You may find a variety of tasks that you like and can ask about during the interview.
Know why you want the job. Why did you apply? What is it about the company and the position that interests you? What do you need to know to become more interested or to feel like you know enough to make a decision? It is common to only look ahead a few years, so you don’t have to have a lifetime career plan at the company, but you should have an idea of the kinds of things you would like to do, to learn, to be exposed to, all to help you grow your career. Have a list of short-term goals you are prepared to share plus some general longer-term career goals. Is job rotation attractive to you, moving from job to job and possibly place to place? Do you want variety? Do you want to work with a particular tool or technique that you love? A good self-assessment of what would make you continue to be interested will help you develop your own deeper probing list of questions.
Why are you a good match? Carefully craft a proposal that says why your unique set of experiences, projects, classroom performance, etc. make you a great fit for this type of position. Employers appreciate students that can communicate clear objectives and a case for a solution path. In this case, you as the best fit for this position is the proposal. It is a great skill and a great way to differentiate yourself. Keep your humility rather than appearing to be over-confident, but make your case.
Prepare examples of learned/demonstrated skills. Employers want to see more than GPA and a list of projects. What did you enjoy and why? What challenges did you face and how did you overcome them. What specific kinds of team and individual projects did you take on and what was your role? How were you challenged and how did you grow? How would you do things differently if you could? All good questions should follow a method of how you faced a situation, how you created action plans and executed them, how you assessed the results, and what you would do differently. These are commonly applied industry methods and will also help you appear more knowledgeable and mature to the interviewers.
Challenge the interviewers. Thoughtful questions about the company, departments, team, and position are very welcome. Your homework comes into play here as you ask the interviewers to essentially show why the company has a great culture, provides challenging work assignments, and has plans to grow you professionally. Learn as much as you can about them so when a job offer arrives, you are already fully prepared to evaluate it.
Review sample interview questions. Search for resources that provide sample interview questions. Your career services office may be very helpful here, but also review what is available online and make sure you include keywords about the position itself, whether generally using “supply chain”, or if concentrating on the keywords in the job title or the general areas of supply chain your job falls within.
Practice, practice, practice. Three times ought to do it. Start with a brief practice interview that covers all the major steps of an interview. Reflect on it, then do it again. Have someone play the interviewer role as well. Take advantage of any possible mock interview opportunities that career services or your clubs or departments have available. Others will see things you don’t, so practice with others.
Glad you took the time to learn how to prepare for a job interview! If you are interested in checking out part 2 of this article series – covering tips for DURING and AFTER the interview, CLICK HERE.