Appearing for a job interview without adequate preparation is one of the best ways to lose all hope of getting the job you want. Not only will you not get the job currently open, but you will also irritate the hiring manager enough that you might not be considered for other jobs with the company.
You should come to an interview with questions about the job and about the company. You might also have questions about the immediate supervisor. These should not be questions that could be answered by visiting the company web site.
Here are some tips to help you ace the interview.
1. Organize your documents
Gather several copies of your resume, list of references with complete contact information, letters of recommendation, samples of past work, certifications. If you asked when the interview was scheduled, you will know how many people will be involved in the interview. Be sure you have enough copies of everything for each person, as well as a few extras. Then organize these papers in your briefcase for quick and easy access or, better, create folders of information for each interviewer.
2. Know the company
You should be able to learn a huge amount about a company from their web site and from press releases and news items about them. In particular, you will want to know about corporate values, their products and/or services, age of the business, how stable the company is. If it is not clear to you on the basis of this information, a good question to ask is, “How will this job support the strategic goals of the company?”
3. Check the route
It is a good idea to make a test run the day before the interview at the same time of day. This will give you a sense of how much traffic there will be and how long it will take to get to the interview location. This will also alert you to find an alternate route if there is construction along the way that could make your trip longer. Always take the directions, a map and a phone number for the hiring manager and the front desk in case there is a problem and you need either alternate directions or you need to notify someone you will be late.
4. Practice answers to expected questions
You can count on certain kinds of questions. It is good to have answers ready for these questions. They might include: “What are your strengths?” or “What is your greatest weakness?” or “What did you learn from your biggest mistake?” or “Why do you think you are a good fit for this job?”
5. Find out what kind of interview to expect
There are one-on-one interviews, practical interviews, group interviews, and lunch interviews, for example. This is an important question to ask the hiring manager when the interview is scheduled. Also find out if you will be expected to make any sort of presentation.
6. Focus on why you are right for the job
The application and interview process is about discovering the best person for the job. Be prepared to outline how you believe you can contribute to the company. Have some thoughts prepared about ways you have used your abilities in the past to help a company succeed. A good question to ask in this context is, “How do you see my skills and knowledge helping the company achieve key strategic goals?” This will tell you what made you interesting to them on paper. Then you can elaborate on these traits, skills and abilities.
7. Arrive rested and energetic
Enthusiasm is important. In fact, your enthusiasm for the job can help to create enthusiasm for you in the interviewer(s).