6 Job Interview Preparation Steps

Preparing for your job interview takes time and effort.  You want to go in prepared and confident. Before the big day, review these helpful pre-interview steps.

1. Know your audience

Spend a few hours learning everything you can about the company and the individuals you will be meeting. Are there any marketing videos, presentations or white papers available?  Any new press releases that will convey current strategy and direction?   Did the hiring manager conduct a recorded webinar that is available online? Check out LinkedIn profiles and social media feeds.  The more you can understand the motivations, buzz words, concepts and key terminology the more credible your candidacy.   Also check out Glassdoor's interviews section for the company; this may provide some insight into how the company performs interviews.   Review the job description closely and ensure that you have a clear understanding of the job requirements.

2. Refine your elevator pitch

You want to get off to a great start.  Ensure you have a 30-60 second elevator pitch that clearly and concisely conveys who you are and provides a glimpse into why this role is a great fit.   Typically you would have a standard pitch that is tweaked for a particular role.

3. Anticipate interview questions

Think about what questions you would ask if you were on the other side of the table.  Write down at least five questions that you expect and ensure that you have clear and concise answers ready.  Prepare a couple of example accomplishments that really highlight your experience and can be broadly applied to a wide variety of questions.   Include statistics wherever possible to validate your successes.  There will be completely unexpected questions - always answer in a positive manner that whenever possible ties your experience to the role. If you are asked about a duty for the role that you are not sure you want to do - don't hesitate or express your unease during the interview either verbally or non-verbally. You will have plenty of time after the interview to decide if this is still a good fit. Do not speak negatively about past employers, colleagues, or customers.   You will get asked a question that invites negativity - be prepared.  In particular "what is your greatest weakness?" Prepare an answer to this inevitable question that presents a weakness in a positive manner.   You can also easily find common interview questions all over the Internet if desire but don't overdue it and dilute your preparation.

4. Prepare questions to ask

Don't ask the obvious or those that you should have known had you performed some basic research.  Ask smart questions that tie into what you learned in your research that relate to the job. You want to show that you have have been following the company and have done  your homework.

5. Develop a cheat sheet

Create an interview cheat sheet that can easily reviewed.  This should include key details you need to remember, the list of questions and examples you had prepared, your elevator pitch and reminders on how to conduct yourself during the interview.  Pay attention to non-verbal communication.   Project confidence - use a firm handshake, smile and maintain good eye contact.  Be mindful of reactions - facial expressions provide clues - project a positive image at all times. Pay attention - actively listen to the interviewer's comments.

6. Prepare your documentation

If this is an in-person interview, make sure that you bring a reference list and multiple copies of your cover letter and resume.