Getting Ready for a Job Interview

You've gotten the letter asking you to appear for a job interview. While you may be happy that someone found your resume interesting, undoubtedly you're suddenly very anxious about doing the interview. It doesn't matter if you've done it dozens of times in the past, each interview can be nerve-wracking. In order to avoid excessive panic, make sure to take time to prepare yourself before the interview day arrives.

1. Learn about the company
Employers love it when prospective employees have made an effort to find out about the company and the job that they are competing for. One of the best ways to impress the interviewers is to do research on the company and the industry that it's in. If possible, discover how important the division you may be working for is to the company as a whole. Is it the core business? Is it support services? Is it a new division that is attempting to expand the company's business line? By doing the research (and asking pertinent questions during the interview), you can show the interviewers that you're interested in the company and the industry, and that you're keen to learn more. Interviewers want to find employees that are interested and enthusiastic.

Fortunately, most companies have websites that you can read through to glean information that may help you come across as being keen and knowledgable. For companies that don't have websites that you can look through, do online searches for articles that may have been done about them. Many industries have trade magazines and associated websites that may have write-ups on the company that you'll be interviewing with. If worse comes to worst and there are no articles on the web about them, you can always go to the library and read up on the industry in general.

2. Self-inventory
In order to convince the interviewers that you have the necessary skills and attributes that they want to see in a successful candidate, you need to know just what skills and attributes you have. Examine your formal education, on-the-job training, and life experiences. Look at each element, and decide what skills or attributes you may have acquired from each of them. Make sure to go over your inventory and list several times. Then, try and match up the skills and attributes you believe you possess with the ones that your potential employer may want to see in you. Some of the skills you list won't match up completely with the ones the interviewers may want, but they may be similar enough that the interviewers can see the potential in you. The thing to remember in a job interview is that you're not there begging for a job -- you're there selling yourself, your aptitudes, your skills and your potential to the interviewers. To sell yourself well, you must make sure that the assets that you can provide them are readily apparent to them. But at the same time, don't nauseate them with tons of irrelevant things. Keep your answers short. If they're interested in something you've said, they ask you to expand on it.

3. Rehearse
Next to being late and unkempt, one of the worst things you can do is to look and sound anxious and ill-prepared. Being prepared for an interview shows them that you will be prepared for your job. Aside from doing the research mentioned earlier, sounding and acting self-assured and confident (but not cocky) will help immensely in selling yourself to the interviewers. One of the best ways to prepare is to rehearse. Think of questions that the interviewers may ask you -- both technical/skill type questions and personal attribute questions -- and write them down. Go over each question and try and come up with good, well thought-out answers. Go over them several times. Don't memorize your answers -- that will make you sound stiff and afraid at the interview. Instead, memorize the points you want to get across in those answers. Next, find a friend or family member and ask them to pretend to be the interviewer. Give them the list of questions, and try and deliver your answers calmly, clearly and concisely. It may seem awkward or foolish to both of you to do this, but you'll do much better at the interview if you've gone through it several times in the days leading up to the interview itself. Ask your interview partner what sort of impression they got from you during the mock interview. Did you seem stiff or relaxed? Confident or anxious? Cocky or self-assured? Your body language, as well as your answers, will help determine if you should be considered for the job. Once you've mastered the answering of the questions, practice your body language and posture in a mirror. Keep your head up, look the interviewer in the eye and look interested. Don't use too many hand gestures, but don't "sit on your hands" either. The former will make you appear anxious while the latter will make you look stiff and awkward.

4. Appearance
As we all know, first impressions are important. Many people, subconsciously, will make decisions based almost entirely on the first impression they get of someone. One television commercial used to say "You never get a second chance to make a first impression". With that in mind, you have to make sure that, even before they say hello to you, that their impression of you is favorable. That means being neatly dressed, clean, and having a tidy appearance. Unless they tell you otherwise, dress a little more formally than you might think you need to. Whatever clothes you wear, make sure that they are neat and clean and pressed. If you look as though you can't be bothered to look nice for them, then they won't be bothered to hire you. No matter how well you may sell yourself in the interview itself. First impressions are vitally important.

5. Don't be late
If you can't be on time for your interview, you won't be on time for your job. That's the way the interviewers will look at you being tardy for the interview. Make a point of arriving early. The time spent at the interview site before they call you in can be helpful to you. Firstly, you won't be experiencing any panic from having to hurry to the site. Secondly, you'll have a few moments to calm yourself and get your breathing under control. Thirdly, you'll be able to review what you practiced in your rehearsals. Lastly, you'll be able to put on that look of self-control and self-assurance. That way, when they call in you, you'll be ready to start selling yourself.

6. Introduce yourself
This is where the first impression begins. Make sure you make eye contact from the very start. Shake hands firmly and smile. Say who you are and greet them. Let them know that you're pleased to be there with them. You'll be graded on your interpersonal skills based solely on the introduction. The eye contact, the handshake and the smile will help to forge an immediate relationship with the interviewers. If the relationship starts out positively, interviewers may subconsciously help you during the interview if they like you from the start.

7. Ask questions at the end
When the interview is concluding, the interviewers will often ask if you have any questions. Make sure that you have one or two ready to ask. By having pertinent questions, you'll come across as someone who is eager to join the company and to learn. Make sure the questions are about the job itself, not on the benefits. Questions about pay and sick leave and such should come after the official job offer has been made, not before. Also, ask them how you'll be notified regarding the results of the interview and when the notification can be expected. Will they phone or send you a letter? Will they decide that week, or do they have several weeks of interviews still to do. You don't want to seem pushy by phoning starting the next day, when they are still in the process of doing interviews or grading the applicants.

While the process of being interviewed for a job may seem scary, if you know what you're doing and you prepare appropriately, you'll be able to walk into the interview room calm and ready.

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