4.1 Preparing Effectively for a Job Interview

Lumen Learning and Linda (Bruce) Hill

When you obtain an interview, there are many ways to prepare. Doing your research and practicing before an interview will help you feel more confident and be more authentic and impressive in the interview.

Follow these steps to begin your preparation:

1. Review the Job Description

When you prepare for an interview, your first step will be to carefully read and reread the job posting or job description. This will help you develop a clearer idea of how you meet the skills and attributes the company seeks. Highlight key skills and terms and identify where you have practiced skills and developed your qualifications.

2. Research the Company or Organization

Researching the company will give you a wider view of what the company is looking for and how well you might fit in. Your prospective employer may ask you what you know about the company. Being prepared to answer this question shows that you took time and effort to prepare for the interview and that you have a genuine interest in the organization. It shows good care and good planning—soft skills you will surely need on the job. A good place to start your research is the company’s website. Read the “About” page, and staff bios, and see if they have posted any news about the company or its community involvement. You can also read LinkedIn profiles of staff you will meet with and follow the company’s page.

3. Practice Answering Common Questions

Most interviewees find that practicing for the interview in advance with a family member, a friend, or a colleague eases possible nerves during the actual interview. It also creates greater confidence when you walk through the interview door. In the “Interview Questions” section of this chapter, you will learn more about specific questions you will likely be asked and corresponding strategies for answering them.

4. Plan to Dress Appropriately

Interviewees are generally most properly dressed for an interview in business attire, with the goal of looking highly professional in the eyes of the interviewer. Most will wear “business professional” to an interview, which would mean a business suit but some may prefer to wear “business casual” for certain jobs. To determine what level of formality would be appropriate, do some research on the company and field. Try to find photos of company events, LinkedIn profile pictures, and information on the general level of formality for the industry.  When in doubt, dress more formally, you can always take off a tie or a blazer to dress down if you need to.

5. Come Prepared

Plan to bring your résumé, cover letter, and a list of references to the interview. You may also want to bring a portfolio of representative work. Leave behind coffee, chewing gum, and any other items that could be distractions. Bring a small notebook and pen in case you need to make notes about questions you have been asked or information you have been given.

6. Be Confident

Above all, interviewees should be confident and “courageous.” By doing so you make a strong first impression. As the saying goes, “There is never a second chance to make a first impression.” In addition, be kind and respectful to everyone you meet. Assume when you leave the house, the interview has started. You never know who you might be next to in traffic or the waiting area.


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4.1 Preparing Effectively for a Job Interview Copyright © 2022 by Lumen Learning and Linda (Bruce) Hill is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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