The Pre-Interview Phase – Preparing for On Site Job Interviews
Ever experienced those pre-interview jitters? You’re definitely not alone.
While this is totally normal, preparing for the interview ahead of time is the best way to combat those nerves. There’s nothing that will knock your confidence down faster than showing up to an interview ill-prepared. Doing everything you can do to get ready ahead of time is crucial for your interview success.
By following these steps, you’ll not only be able to impress the employer, but have a good chance of receiving a job offer as well!
Do Your Homework
Chances are that you’ve already researched the company before sending in your application. Even so, you’ll want to know more about them before interviewing for the position.
You can almost be certain that you will be asked in the interview “what do you know about the company?” Yet it’s unbelievable how many people still go into an interview and just wing it. Which is why researching everything you can about the company beforehand will give you a leg up on the competition. Impress the employer by showing them that you are well-versed on who they are and what they do.
Start by going to the company website and read over pages like ‘About Us’ and ‘Careers.’ Learn everything you can about the services or products that they offer. Find out more about the company’s mission statement, values and what makes them unique. What do you know about their culture? How can you express that you will be a good fit with the rest of the team?
Does the company have a blog? If so, have a look through that as well. There are so many little tidbits you can learn about the company if you put in the time and effort. If you want to take it one step further, you can even learn about their competition in the industry. This will surely impress the individual who is interviewing you and show your genuine interest in the company. It can also help you in the case of if the employer decided to ask you “who do you think are our main competitors?”
The next step is researching more about the job position itself. You need to know about the position to be able to explain why you are the best person for the job. Go back into the job posting or website and remind yourself again of exactly what the employer is looking for in a potential employee. Think about how you will tie your experience in with what they’re looking for. It may be a good idea to review your previous application or cover letter if applicable at this time as well.
Finally, always be sure to research the individual(s) who are looking to interview with you, if possible. A great way to do this is on LinkedIn. You can find most employers on LinkedIn and learn a lot more about them. Who knows, you may even discover something you have in common with them. Many companies will even have a “Meet Our Team” section (or something similar) on their website where you can find some additional information. If you haven’t found what you’re looking for online, then check out other social media platforms like Twitter or Facebook as well.
Know What to Wear
Remember that you only get one chance to make a first impression. Show up to your on-site interview dressed to impress, but don’t overdo it either. What you wear has the ability to make you look like a confident, successful professional – or the opposite.
From your previous research about the organization’s culture, you’ll already have a better idea of which attire is most appropriate for the interview. If it’s a very casual environment, there’s probably no need to wear a suit and tie or a fancy dress. It’s best to avoid flashy outfits and opt for something professional and simple instead. If you’re still unsure, have a look at their social media. This might give you some insight into what the other employees wear at work. However, no matter how casual the other employees dress, you will want to look nicer than that for the interview.
Most experts say that you should never wear a suit to the interview unless you intend to wear one after you get the job. This is a great statement to live by when it comes to any interview attire, regardless of whether you are male or female. Wear something similar to what you would wear in the office; something that accurately portrays who you are in the most professional way. Just make sure that your clothes are neat and wrinkle-free to ensure you look well put together.
And lastly, always wear something that you’re comfortable in. Your clothing and shoes should fit well. Fidgeting and looking uncomfortable isn’t a good look while you’re meeting with the employer. Find an outfit that allows you to focus on the task at hand and gives you the most confidence.
Prepare A List of Questions to Ask
Want to look even more prepared? Write out a short list of questions to keep on hand for the end of the interview. This will show the hiring manager that you are engaged and interested in the position. You can almost guarantee that half of the applicants aren’t coming with this in hand.
Just be sure you don’t ask questions about the company that can be easily found on their website, as that can make you look like you didn’t do your research. Instead, ask questions in relation to how you can best succeed in the possible new role. This is a final reminder to the employer that you are willing to do what it takes to be successful. Here are some of the best suggestions that will show initiative:
What would you expect of me in the 1st month, 3rd month, 6th month, and 12th month upon hiring?
Is there room for professional development or any career advancements?
What can I do that will make the biggest impact in this position?
Try to stick to about 2 to 5 questions that will show your interest in growing and improving in the position. Asking only one question – or no questions – will likely look like you haven’t put enough thought into it.
Experts at Big Interview also recommend not asking about salary or compensation if this is the first of several interviews. As tempting as it may be, it’s also best to leave benefits and vacation pay out of it as well. So, keep that in mind and hold off until things are getting finalized.
Plan Where to Go in Advance
This may seem obvious, but people do actually often mess this up. First, make sure you have identified exactly where to go for the interview. No matter how you are getting there, be sure to plan your route ahead of time. You never want to leave this to the last minute.
Make sure you have reliable transportation in advance. Always leave adequate time and consider factors like time of day and traffic. No matter well you do in the interview, showing up late is usually a complete deal breaker.
What to Bring to the Interview
There are a few items you should always bring to show that you are well prepared. Although some of these may sound obvious, many people actually show up empty-handed. Prepare these necessary items the day before your interview to ensure you have everything ready.
Extra copies of your resume - Bring a few extra copies in case you are meeting with more than one person during the interview. It’s always good to have one resume on hand for yourself to refer back to as well.
This may or may not apply to the industry you are interviewing for. If you do have a relevant portfolio, be sure to bring your best pieces only. Print out hard copies to show proof of what you can do and leave the rest at home.
List of references
Although you should only offer this upon the employer’s request, it’s best to have copies of your references on hand as well. Consider which professional references will best vouch for your experience and be sure to ask them for permission ahead of time. A phone call out of the blue may result in a missed reference. Neatly print a paper with their full names, phone numbers and relationship to you.
You never know how long the duration of the interview will be or how much time you’ll be waiting beforehand. Plus, if a case of the nerves hit, it’s all too easy to experience dry mouth. Save yourself the trouble and bring a small bottle of water to keep with you.
Pen and paper
Use this to keep track of any important notes from the employer during the interview. On the other hand, if you have any additional questions come up for them, you can jot those down as well.
This may seem like a no-brainer, but always have your ID with you in case it’s needed to get into the building. Showing up without it could cost you entry into the interview.
Create an Interview Checklist
To ensure you don’t forget anything, create a checklist for the interview. Do this ahead of time to make sure everything is in order for the big day. The checklist should consist of all of the items you need to bring, your list of questions for the employer, your outfit, as well as the address and directions. Include anything else you think you might need to help you succeed. You may wish to bring a folder, bag or briefcase of some sort to keep everything organized.
Try to Relax
Even if you have done everything to prepare, it’s still normal to feel a little nervous. Just focus on taking deep breaths anytime you feel that pre-interview anxiety come on. Try doing something calming before the interview, such as listening to music on your drive in – whatever helps you relax most.
This can be easy to forget when you’re nervous, but always remember to have confidence in yourself before going into the room. You’ve been called in the interview for a reason, which means the employer is interested in learning more about what you have to offer. Body language is so important in showing the employer that you’re the right person for the job. Practice a strong handshake upon introducing yourself and be sure to smile. Keep proper eye contact during the interview, avoid fidgeting around and sit with your body facing openly to the interviewer. Sitting openly means taking up more space rather than sitting slouched and with your arms crossed.
The best way to nail the interview is by going over potential questions prior to. Practice your answers to questions employers commonly ask in the industry. A quick google search can give you plenty of ideas of the most commonly asked questions. Also be sure to review the information on the company and the position again so you feel confident talking about it.
It may be tempting to stay up late preparing but getting a good night’s sleep is imperative for success. Harvard Studies show that insufficient sleep causes problems with performance, judgement and increases errors. Not to mention that may people experience extra nerves and anxiety when they’re not well rested. Planning ahead of time so you can get to bed a little earlier will work in your favor.
Preparation Will Get You the Job
This pre-interview phase may seem like a tedious task, but preparation is necessary if you want to secure the position. By following each step of this article, you will be ready for your on-site job interview. Good luck!
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