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Preparing for an Interview

21 Pointers, On Us

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  • Spend a few hours learning everything you can about the company.  By doing so, you’ll get the larger picture about the company.

  • No matter what role you’re interviewing for—engineering, sales, marketing—you should always use the product before your first interview. If hired, your goal will be to create value for the people who use that product, and being a user yourself is the first step.

  • Before your interview, get a list of the people you’re meeting with from the company. Then learn more about them.

  • It’s essential to spend time thinking carefully about what skills, accomplishments, and interview answers will resonate with your interviewers most. Your leadership? Your creativity? The examples you share will probably be slightly different everywhere you interview.

  • Have an answer to “Tell me about yourself” ready. Interviewers always ask it, and you want to nail this first part of the interview.

Image by Markus Winkler
  • Don’t be thrown off by the classic “What’s your biggest weakness?” One foolproof method: Think of something that you struggle with but that you’re working to improve. 

  • You can easily find lists of common interview questions—but don’t prepare by writing out your entire answer; instead, jot down a few notes or bullet points and keep them on hand for the interview itself. You’ll ensure you cover the bases—without reading from a script.

  • Don’t forget about the numbers! Finding some numbers, percentages, increases, or quotas you can use when talking about your responsibilities and accomplishments really sweetens the deal and helps you tell a hiring manager why you’re so awesome. 

  • It’s likely you’ll get asked why you’re interested in this particular role and company.  Consider why you’re interested in the function and identify a couple of key factors that make it a great fit for you and how it aligns with things that motivate you.

  •  Practice looking in the mirror and answering questions out loud. This prep work will help you clarify your thoughts and make you more confident during the interview.

  • Prepare a few smart questions for when it’s your turn to ask. Make sure they’re thoughtful and show you’ve been paying attention and have done your homework when it comes to researching the company.

  • Plan the perfect interview outfit. For companies that have a business or business-casual dress code keep your look basic and conservative for the first interview. 

  •  Shine your shoes, check for loose hems, and make sure your fingernails look manicured. This is the stuff that you don’t always think people notice, but they do!

  • Do a little pampering, because looking your best helps you feel your best. If that means you need a facial, haircut, razor shave, or even a new interview outfit, then by all means do it! Feeling good about yourself will boost your confidence—and we probably don’t have to tell you that confidence is key to landing your dream job.

  • Print out five copies of your resume. You never know who you’ll be meeting with, and you want to have your resume ready to go in case you're asked for it.

Image by Kelly Sikkema
  • Prepare a reference list, whether you think you’ll be asked for it or not. For each reference, include a name, title, organization, division or department, telephone number, and email address, as well as a sentence briefly explaining the relationship. 

  • Clean out your bag. If you have to dig past candy wrappers, phone chargers, and old receipts to get that resume, you’re going to look a little unorganized. Everything you need should be neatly organized and readily accessible. 

  • Come up with a go-to phrase that’ll help you avoid dead air if you need time to stall and gather your thoughts. Two strategies that work well are repeating the question thoughtfully before answering or saying (slowly), “Now, that is a great question. I think I would have to say…"

  • Brush up on what certain body language conveys. Be aware of what you’re communicating through your posture and stance—and make sure it’s good. (For example, sitting with your arms and legs crossed sends a message that you are closed-off or feel defensive.) Think your movements through ahead of time so you are not distracted (or distracting) during the interview.

  • Use an interview cheat sheet to compile all the details you need to remember, jot down notes about what you want to say and ask, and check off all the essentials of what to bring to the interview. Print one out for every interview, read it over the morning of, and you’ll be good to go!

  •  Get some sleep. Being well-rested helps you to think clearly

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