4 Ways to Prepare for an Interview

If you follow me on Twitter or Snapchat, you know that I’ve had quite a few interviews this past week. Why? Because I’m currently looking for an internship for the winter and summer semesters!

Because of the internship search process I’ve been on with my career center, it happens that all of the interviews for the internships that I have applied for in the past few weeks happened last week, or will be happening in the upcoming week. That means that I’ve spent all most of my fall break doing interviews and that I will be (hopefully) doing more interviews this week. Yes, at the same time I’m taking my midterms. Talk about stress!

One of the ways to ace any interview is to prepare. Check out these 4 ways to help you prepare and grab your bonus worksheet at the end!

One of the things that helped me get through this stressful week is to prepare. How do you prepare for an interview? Check out these 4 ways to help you prepare for any interview and don’t forget to grab your bonus worksheet at the end! 

Do your research

Before you head to your interview, make sure you do your research properly. Start by rereading the offer for the job or internship you’ve applied for. Remember why you applied and what you found appealing when you first read the offer. A lot of job offers will already include a description of the tasks the position entails, a small description of the company and the job environment, and a list of requirements they expect the candidate to meet. Try to retain the information in case it comes up in the interview.

Once you’ve familiarized yourself with the offer, look up the company’s website. Get a general feeling of what they’re about, their mission, and their values as a company. Knowing what they prioritize can help you answer the basic question “Why do you want to work for us?”. It can also help you figure out why you would be a good fit for the company.

Also, make sure to check the most recent news involving them. A lot of companies’ website will have a “Media” or “News” section, but if that’s not the case, check out Google! Type the company’s name and the search bar and choose the “News” option. You don’t need to learn anything by heart, but just knowing what’s been happening to them might give you a slight advantage in the interview!

If you want more tips on how to research for a job interview, make sure you check out Elana Lyn’s post!

While you do your research, I suggest you take a few notes! Unless you have a phone interview, you’re probably not going to be allowed to have them with you during the interview, but writing helps you retain information. You’ll also have the opportunity to skim over your notes quickly before the interview!

Finally, once you’ve done your research, prepare a few questions you might want to ask the employer. They will always give you the chance to ask questions at the end of the interview. Asking questions shows that you care and that you are interested! If there’s anything you still need to be enlightened on, now is the time to ask! I personally came up with a few “generic” questions that I can reuse in most interviews, such as “Would I be working with a big team or a smaller one?” or “What does a typical workday/week look like?”.

Review your resumé

Before you head into your interview, you want to make sure you know your resumé like the back of your hand. Why? Because the employer is probably going to ask you questions about it. I had an interview where the employer went through every single part of my resumé with me and asked me questions about it. You want to be able to back your answers if anything comes up.

Another great thing to do is to see how you can link relevant experience to the employer’s requirements. What did you do that can prove that you are skilled? Go back to the job offer and think of at least one experience that you use to prove your skills to meet the employer’s expectations. My career center came up with this great spreadsheet that I filled in for all of my interviews. In one column, I wrote down the employer’s requirements and the skills they were looking for in a candidate, and in the other column, I wrote down any relevant experience with a specific example. It helped me plan my answers if the question came up. I’ve been asked to give examples for a few of my interviews so that definitely helped me prepare!

Grab your own free worksheet!

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Dress the part

Sadly, in today’s society, we judge people a lot based on how they look. Employers are no different. So, when you head to your interview, make sure you wear decent clothes. Try to avoid jeans and plunging necklines. You don’t necessarily have to wear a pantsuit (unless you’re trying to get into a bank or a law firm, for example), but try to dress up a bit. I always say it’s better to be overdressed and than underdressed in this case. Dressing up shows that you take the job seriously, even if the dress code of the company is more casual.

No matter what you end up wearing, make sure you wear clothes that you feel confident in! If you feel good wearing them, there’s a good chance that it’ll show in the interview. You’ll be less stressed and you’ll feel more at ease.

When it comes to makeup, I’d suggest going light. Prefer a natural look that will show the employer who you are! Don’t wear too much foundation (you don’t want to look caked), don’t go too dark on the eyeshadow and/or the eyeliner, and go for a nude lipstick. That way, if some of your lipstick comes off, it won’t look weird!

You should also take care of your nails. If you’re not going to have a freshly done manicure, I suggest going natural. I’d much rather not wear anything on my nails than meet an employer with chipped nail polish! You might think your employer won’t notice, but trust me when I say that there is a possibility. You will be shaking their hand, after all!

As for your hair, do as you wish! The only thing I would suggest is to tie it up if you know you’re going to be playing with it. I know it can be a nervous habit for some people, so if that’s your case, get rid of the problem!

Practice!

Like most things, interviews will get easier with practice. (Trust me! After 6 interviews in 4 days, I know what I’m talking about.) I know interviews can be quite stressful, so I suggest you rehearse before heading there. How? Try to come up with answers for the most-asked interview questions. For example, you will more than likely always be asked to tell what your strengths and weaknesses are. Be honest, but do not sell yourself short! Prepare a few of each and try to explain them in a coherent and cohesive way.

A great way to get better is to practice enunciating your answers! Sometimes they sound great in your head, but when you try to actually say them, it doesn’t come off the way you wanted them to. Practice in front of the mirror, record yourself. Try to erase any language tics. That might be hard to do, but if you know about them, you’ll be more self-conscious when the interview comes!

Finally, have fake interviews with your friends and family. Practicing all by yourself and practicing with someone else are two completely different things, and they can both be beneficial! Rehearse everything from the handshake to the most basic questions. That will help you feel more at ease when the real interview comes.

No matter what, remember this: just be yourself! Don’t pretend to be someone you’re not just to get the job/internship. Interviewers want to know why they should hire you, not the person you’re pretending to be! Also, remember that if you have an interview, that means that they are already interested in hiring you. Now, it’s up to them to decide if they should hire you or not. You do not have any control over the final decision, so don’t beat yourself up too much!

Do you have any tips that help you prepare for job or internship interviews?

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  • Abby

    I tell my high school students to dress up, and NOT to dress for the job they’re applying for. As far as after the interview, it’s always a good idea to send a thank you note.

    • Those are such great tips! Thanks for reading and taking the time to comment, Abby!

  • Amelie, these are such great tips!

    When I was interviewing, researching and practicing were a huge part of my process. I made sure to research my potential employer and her company, and during my phone interview, I was able to connect more easily with her on a personal level because I had done my research.

    I also agree with Abby below: I always make sure I send a thank-you note after an interview – in this age where a lot of millennials are forgetting (or ignoring!) basic courtesy and traditional aspects of the interview, remembering to send a thank-you note is just one more way to stand out from the crowd! 🙂

    http://www.tendrilwild.com

    • Those are such great tips, Bria! Research is such an important part of the process. It can really make the difference between an interview that goes well and one that doesn’t!

  • Excellent tips! It definitely pays off to research a company ahead of time.