Getting Ready for a Job Interview

8 steps to help you perform your best

Getting a job interview is terrific news. It means that the employer is interested in learning more about you. They are taking time out of their day to consider you for the job, so you want to take this opportunity seriously. The interview helps the employer decide whether to offer you the position, and at the same time, it helps you decide whether it’s a position that you want. Try these eight steps to get the most out of your next job interview.

Step 1: Learn more about the employer
Doing research about the potential employer is important for two reasons. First, it helps you understand what the employer does and whether you want to be a part of the organization. And second, it will show the employer that you’ve done your homework and learned about the company’s history, mission, and goals. To do your research, read the website, look at reviews posted by others, search Google News for recent news articles, and read the bios of the people you may be working for. There is a lot you can learn online once you start searching.

Step 2: Study the job description and write down questions
You want to have a firm grasp of the job itself when you enter the interview. Study the job description and make sure you understand the responsibilities. It is likely that the interviewer will ask you about your experience in these areas, so be ready with your answers. Also create a list of about 10 questions that you want to ask the employer. These might be questions about the position itself or about the overall organization. Having questions shows the employer that you are interested in the job and the organization.

Step 3: Practice your talking points
If you are in a career training school or college program, there is probably a Career Services department that offers mock interviews. During a mock interview, a career services representative will pretend to be the interviewer. You should dress up as you would for a real interview. Prepare talking points that highlight your skills and experiences. Bring your list of questions. Mock interviews are great opportunities to try out what you are going to say. The career services staff can offer feedback and advice on ways to improve your interviewing skills.

Step 4: Check your network
It never hurts to find out if you already know someone who works at the company where you are interviewing. You can search on LinkedIn and ask your friends and colleagues whether they know anyone who works at the organization. If you do find someone, you can let them know that you are interviewing, and sometimes this kind of connection can help improve your chances of getting an offer.

Step 5: Prepare a portfolio
Don’t wait until the last minute to prepare the things you will bring. It’s always a good idea to bring extra copies of your resume, your business cards (if you have them), your list of questions, and your list of references. Print this out a few nights before the interview so that you don’t run into any 11th hour problems like being out of toner or paper. Put these items in a portfolio, folder, or notebook that looks businesslike and presentable. Don’t forget to bring a pen too.

Step 6: Plan your interview outfit
It’s important to figure out what you are going to wear well in advance. You don’t want to panic in the hour leading up to the interview when you feel you’ve got nothing appropriate to wear. Start planning out what you will wear at least 3 to 5 days in advance. This will give you time to borrow or purchase clothing if necessary.

Step 7: Figure out how to get there
A few days before the interview, map out how you are going to get there. Use an app that takes traffic into consideration, and be sure you allot enough time to arrive 5 to 10 minutes early. Many employers are very large organizations where there may be more than one entrance. If that is the case, it’s okay to call the receptionist or HR person and ask for more details on exactly where you need to go for the interview. You want to plan this in advance so that you are not stressed on the day of the interview.

Step 8: Avoid common interview mistakes
Arriving late, offering a weak handshake, checking your texts during the interview…these are all common interview mistakes that you should try to avoid. By using confident body language and your best professionalism, you should be able to avoid these mistakes and have an interview that you can be proud of.

With these eight steps, we hope you are well-prepared and confident about the interview. We wish you all the luck as you begin your career path!

The Harris School of Business prepares adult students with the skills and knowledge they need to pursue their career paths. With programs such as medical assisting, massage therapy, and dental assisting, our school offers a range of training programs for people interested in healthcare, allied health, and business.