Got a Job Interview?

Good preparation can help steady your nerves

Feeling nervous about a job interview is normal. A job interview is a situation where someone is evaluating you and determining whether you are the best candidate for the job. One way to help ease your nerves is to spend some time preparing for the interview. The more prepared you are, the better you can do on the big day. Try these steps next time you have a job interview.

Step 1: Do your research
Before any job interview, you should learn more about the employer. This serves two purposes. First, it helps you know what kind of job you are getting into. And second, it shows the employer that you have taken the time to learn about the company and that you are serious about getting this job. Learn about the company by doing online searches, reading their website, following them on LinkedIn, and looking for recent news articles about them.

Step 2: Re-read the job description multiple times
Most companies post detailed job descriptions. A very detailed description is great for job-seekers because it tells you what you will be doing on the job. It also tells you what kind of qualities the employer is looking for. This way you can customize your interview responses to emphasize those qualities.

Step 3: Write a list of questions
Job interviewers nearly always give you an opportunity to ask questions. As you read through the company’s website and study the job description, you should come up with a list of questions that you have about the job. They could be questions about the job responsibilities, the history of the organization, the reporting structure, or the specific department where you would be working. Be sure to avoid questions about salary and benefits. Save those questions for when you get a job offer. See Questions to Ask at a Job Interview for more info.

Step 4: Rehearse what you will say
Even though you don’t know what the interviewer will ask, you can still practice certain talking points. Use a list of commonly-asked job interview questions and practice out loud what you will say. The more you get comfortable talking out loud, the more comfortable you will be when the interview comes.

Step 5: Schedule a mock interview
If you attend a career training school, community college, or four-year college, you probably have a Career Services department. Find out if they provide mock interviews, and if they do, make sure to sign up. Mock interviews are a chance for you to pretend that you are in the interview room. A Career Services staff member will pretend to be the employer and will ask you standard interview questions. Be sure to treat it like a real interview—wear your interview clothes, bring a portfolio with your resume in it, and act like a professional. The interviewer will give you feedback and help you improve your responses.

Step 6: Check your connections
Do you know anyone who works at the company where you are interviewing? Even if you think you don’t, it’s worth going through your LinkedIn connections just to double-check. Tell your friends and family where you are interviewing, and it’s possible they may know someone who can help your chances of getting an offer.

Step 7: Plan your clothes ahead of time
On the day of the interview, you will be worried about many things. You don’t want to spend that morning worrying about what to wear. Instead, plan out your interview clothes several days ahead of time, or as much as a week, if you have the time. Use this advice for what to wear to an interview.

Step 8: Plan what you will bring
While you are busy planning ahead, you should also prepare your portfolio ahead of time. Find a nice binder or folder that you can bring to the interview. Put copies of your resume in it, as well as your list of questions (and your business cards if you have them). Don’t forget to bring a pen with you too! Do this a few days in advance to avoid any last-minute problems.

Step 9: Map it out
A few days before the interview, map out your route using an app that can route you around traffic backups. If the employer is a large company with many entrances, ask the HR representative for specific instructions on which entrance to use. Aim to arrive about 20 minutes early to give you a time cushion for traffic delays. If you arrive this early, just wait in the parking lot for a few minutes and look over your notes. You should walk into the reception room about 10 minutes before you were told to arrive.

Step 10: Think positively
Be sure to go into the interview with a positive attitude. Remember, the employer called you for an interview because they are interested in you and think you may be qualified for the job. Not only that, but you’ve worked hard to get to this point, and you should be proud of yourself! So take some deep breaths, think positively, get ready to show them your best!

With these steps, you should be well-prepared for stepping into that interview room with the confidence you need!

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