You’ve recently applied for a job that you’re eager to land. You’ve submitted your resume and you’ve made it past the first round of screenings. You’re feeling confident in your skills and experience, and you’re ready to knock the interview out of the park.

But are you really?

An interview is your one shot at making a lasting impression on a potential employer, and it’s a make or break moment for your job prospects. You might feel like you’re in a good place to walk in and wow your interviewers, but the truth is, you need to be more than just prepared to answer questions about your experience and skills. You need a gameplan.

1. Do Your Homework

Do you know what the most frequently asked question is in an interview? “Tell me what you know about our company.”

Before you go to the interview, you need to know as much as you can about the company. That means knowing the company’s products, services, customers, and competition. It also means knowing the company’s mission, vision, values, goals, and culture. You should be able to talk about the company in detail and with enthusiasm. You should also have a good understanding of the company’s industry.

Here are some great resources to get you started:

• The company’s website

• The company’s social media profiles

• News articles about the company

• News articles about the industry

• The company’s competitors

• The company’s customers

By doing your homework, you’ll be able to answer questions more effectively and you’ll be better prepared to ask questions.

2. Be Prepared to Answer the Tough Questions

There are certain questions that are almost guaranteed to come up in any job interview. The worst thing you can do is to walk into an interview and not have prepared answers for these questions. Even if you have been in the workforce for a while and feel comfortable with interviews, you should still spend time preparing your answers to the questions you will be asked.

The most common interview questions include:

• Tell me about yourself.

• Why are you leaving your current job?

• What are your career goals?

• What are your strengths and weaknesses?

• Why should we hire you?

• What is your greatest professional achievement?

• Tell me about a time you had a conflict at work.

• Where do you see yourself in five years?

• What are your salary requirements?

• Do you have any questions for us?

3. Practice Your Answers

You should always go into an interview with a good idea of what you are going to say. You don’t want to sound like you are just reciting answers to questions you have been asked before, but you also don’t want to be thrown off guard by a question and not know what to say.

A good way to go about this is to do some research on common interview questions. There are a lot of questions that come up time and time again, so you should have no problem finding a list of questions to prepare for.

Think about how you would answer the questions and then practice your answers. You don’t have to memorize them word for word, but you should have a good idea of what you are going to say.

If you are working with a recruiter, they can be a great resource for practicing your answers. They have a lot of experience with interviews and can give you some great feedback.

4. Have a Few Questions of Your Own

You can also take a page out of their book and ask some questions of your own. These should be open-ended and designed to help you understand more about the company, the position, and your potential career path.

Asking questions shows that you are interested in the company and the role. It also helps you learn more about the company and the role so that you can make a more informed decision if an offer is extended.

Finally, it’s important to remember that an interview is a two-way street. You are evaluating the company just as much as they are evaluating you.

5. Plan Your Outfit

The old saying goes, “You never get a second chance to make a first impression.” It may sound cliché, but it’s true. When you walk into the interview, the hiring manager will have already formed an opinion of you. Make sure it’s a good one!

What you wear to an interview is crucial. If you don’t dress appropriately, you may be written off as unprofessional, disinterested, or not serious about the job. You can’t go wrong with a suit, but if you don’t have one, a nice pair of dress pants or skirt and a button-up shirt or blouse are good alternatives. If you’re not sure what to wear, it’s perfectly acceptable to ask the person who schedules your interview.

6. Know Where You’re Going

This may seem like a no-brainer, but it’s important to know exactly where you’re going for an interview. If you’ll be driving to the interview location, take a test drive to the office so you know how long it will take you to get there. It’s a good idea to leave early for an interview, but it’s also good to know how long the drive will take you so you can plan accordingly.

If you’re taking public transportation, make sure you know which train or bus you need to catch and what time you’ll need to leave to get there on time. It’s also important to know where the office is located in relation to the train or bus stop and how long it will take you to walk there.

7. Be Prepared to Answer Your Own Questions

One of the most common interview mistakes is to assume that the interview is only about the employer getting to know you. It is also your opportunity to learn about the company and the job you are interviewing for.

Do your homework and be prepared to ask questions about the company, the culture, the team, and the job itself.

Pro Tip: The most successful interviews are more like a conversation than a Q&A. Be prepared to ask questions as they arise naturally throughout the conversation.

8. Be Prepared to Answer the Most Common Questions

There are certain questions that almost every interviewer will ask, so it’s a good idea to be prepared with your answers. Here are a few of the most common interview questions:

• Tell me about yourself. This is usually the first question you’ll be asked. Keep your answer brief and focused on your professional experience and career goals.

• What are your strengths? This is your chance to sell yourself. Pick a few of your best qualities and give examples of how you’ve used them to succeed in the past.

• What are your weaknesses? This can be a tough one, but it’s important to be honest. The key is to focus on how you’re working to improve in that area.

• Why do you want to work here? This is where your research will come in handy. Talk about what you like about the company and why you think you’re a good fit.

• Where do you see yourself in five years? This is another question that’s designed to gauge your ambition and commitment. Be honest, but don’t overshare.

• Why are you leaving your current job? If you’re currently employed, be prepared to answer this question. Keep it positive and focus on what you’re looking for in a new opportunity.

• Tell me about a time when you had to overcome a challenge. Interviewers love to ask behavioral questions like this. Have a few examples of challenges you’ve faced and how you’ve overcome them prepared.

• What are your salary expectations? If you’re asked about your salary expectations, it’s best to give a range. Make sure that range is based on your research of what the job pays.

9. Know How to Sell Yourself

The interview is not the time to be humble. If you are too modest, you may undersell your skills and experiences. You have to be your own publicist. Make sure you are prepared to talk about your strengths and accomplishments. You should also be prepared to talk about your weaknesses and failures. No one is perfect, and everyone makes mistakes. The key is to show the employer that you are able to learn from your mistakes and grow. You should also be prepared to explain how your weaknesses will not affect your ability to do the job.

10. Remember to Follow Up

While not directly related to the interview itself, following up is an easy way to stand out and make a good impression after the interview is over. You can do this by sending a quick thank you email to your interviewer to express your appreciation for the opportunity and to reiterate your interest in the position.

If the hiring process is taking longer than expected, you can also check in with your interviewer to see if they need any additional information from you. This shows that you’re still interested in the role and helps keep the lines of communication open.

Conclusion

The interview process is a two-way street. You’re trying to determine if the company is a good fit for you, as much as they are trying to decide if you are a good fit for them. So, take a deep breath, relax, and let your personality and professionalism shine through. If you’re well-prepared and follow these techniques, you’ll be well on your way to landing the job.

Share.