Let’s start with the basics or the minimal things we should do when preparing for an interview.
First, it is important to practice and be prepared for as many general interview questions as you can possibly think. Although we might have a general idea of the questions we are going to be asked, we won’t know for sure.
There are several websites where you can find many of these questions, and sometimes, they even provide you with suggestions to consider when answering them. Always remember to provide concise and specific answers. I can’t stress enough how important is to focus your answers. Long and “all over the place” answers tend to bore the interviewer and that right there is a lost opportunity.
When preparing for your interview, you can also ask a friend or a colleague to “interview” you or maybe listen to your answers and give you feedback based on their own professional experience. I always tell my students to practice their answers. Some people say that “practice makes perfect”, and that is partially true. Practicing includes saying your answers out loud, recording yourself and listening to it later or even standing in front of a mirror while you practice for your interview. If your brain “sees” or “hears” you practicing it won’t consider it “new” when it happens during the real interview, and that can help keep your nerves under control.
Another important reminder is make sure that you are able to explain everything that is included on your resume or curriculum vitae. Most likely, you will be interviewed based on the documents you submitted during the application process, and as a candidate, you want to be a true reflection of that. If you find yourself having trouble explaining anything you wrote there, make sure you get rid of it.
Be prepared to talk about your positive and negative traits, but focus on the positive. Be honest, be humble and most importantly, be human. No one is expecting a perfect candidate. But if you ask me, someone with their feet on the ground, capable of recognizing their negative traits and working actively towards making them better is a pretty good candidate to consider. As I mentioned before, make sure you can explain everything about yourself in a short, focused and specific way.
Another thing most people don’t think about when preparing for an interview is their well-being or health. For instance, do you have any health condition that might affect your performance during the interview? If so, is that condition under control? You have to remember that preparing for an interview can be very stressful and we all know that stress can adversely affect our immune system and overall well being.
When stressed, some people develop really bad cold sores or allergies or even migraines. It is very important to know yourself and to do whatever you need to make sure that none of these things affect you during the interview process. If you think you are physically not ready to go through the interview, it might be a good idea to be honest and try to re-schedule it.
On the day of the interview, consider weather and traffic conditions as well as travel time to the interview place. You want to arrive on time and with the minimum amount of stress possible. Remember what I said in my previous blog, you only have one chance for a first impression. Being prepared (as much as you can) and clam will greatly increase the chances of that first impression being the one that will knock their socks off! Good luck!