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Preparing for Interviews

Author: Liz Frome

Here at The Job Shop we work with each candidate one on one to help them prepare for their interview. We know having a good system in place to be prepared for job interviews is essential. We try to cover everything with the candidates from knowing what to wear to the actual interview to ensuring they are prepared to handle a variety of specific subjects. The Job Shop would like to share the following tips so you make the most of your time in front of the hiring managers. Hopefully this will help ensure more job offers!

Start with Research, Research, Research

Researching the company you’re applying to is one of the most important things you can do to prepare for your interview. The Job Shop gets the majority of the feedback from our clients on this topic. The hiring managers will say, “I do not think the candidate even knew what business we are in”. Doing research will not only help provide context for your interview conversations, but it will also help you with questions for the hiring manager. It will truly make you stand out when you research the product or service the company provides, research your potential role, and research the company culture.

Study the job description

Note the required skills, qualities, and experience the company is looking for; you should use the posted job description as your guide. The more you can align yourself to the job description the more it will show the employer how qualified you are for the role you're interviewing for and how well prepared you are.

Consider and Practice answers to possible interview questions

While you won’t be able to predict every question you’ll be asked in an interview, there are quite a few common questions you can plan answers for. Come up with memorable answers to the common interview questions, the tough interview questions, explanations about employment gaps, your skill sets, and numbers that back up your qualifications. Make sure you practice your interview questions out loud or call a friend to do a mock interview. One option is to tape your questions and then review the tape to see how you can improve your answers.

The Job Shop recruiters always have an elevator pitch ready when we meet with our clients and we suggest that you do to. It should describe who you are, what you want to do, and what your long-term goals are. Having this ready will keep you on track when you meet with possible employers. The key is to keep it simple.

Be prepared with examples of your work

If the position is one where you may be required to show your work, like a portfolio, to the client, make sure you are prepared and bring examples with you. You can bring hard copies or if appropriate bring your laptop to show examples. (If you can, go over with the possible employer before your interview so you will know what to bring with you to the interview.)

Bring a hard copy of your resume, notebook, pen, and application

Most employers will ask for digital copies of your resume with the application, but they may not have access to it during the interview. This is just another way to appear prepared and organized at an interview. (The Job Shop always reminds our candidates to bring hard copies along just in case the employer askes you for a copy and BIG TIP - make sure you bring the resume that you sent to the employer. You should have many versions of your resume as each time you apply for a job you should align the resume to each position.)

Plan your interview attire the night before

For an interview The Job Shop will always advise the candidate on attire; our main advice on this topic is to please do your research on the client. Doing this research will ensure you will be dressed appropriately for the company culture. If the company is casual, you don't want to show up in a suit, but this still doesn't mean you should show up in a pair of jeans! We suggest you show up in neat business attire. Do not leave this for the day of the interview; plan what you will wear at least one day before. Make sure everything fits, is cleaned, and is ready to go for the day of your interview. This will help you be able to concentrate on the interview itself on the big day.

Know how you're getting to the interview

Job interviews can be stressful for most people for a variety of reasons but getting to the interview should be stress free. The Job Shop tells the candidates to go to the employer a day or two in advance to see how long it will take to get to the interview and to see what possible obstacles can get in your way to ensure you will be on time the day of your interview. On the day of the interview we suggest you aim to arrive at least 30 minutes early. This will give you time to get a cup of coffee or tea and go over any last-minute preparation. By planning on getting to the interview early you ensure that you have extra time in case any unexpected obstacles come up.

Even with all this preparation, the worst can still happen. Make sure you have the contact information of the employer so that if you're running a little late you can contact them to let them know of your arrival time.

Sell yourself

This can be a big challenge for many people during an interview. A lot of people are uncomfortable with this idea but presenting yourself accurately and positively doesn’t have to feel like a sale. Please keep in mind you have professional skills and experiences that may set you apart from other applicants, so it is expected for you to talk about them in your interview. (Do keep in mind you are there to demonstrate why they should hire you over the other applicants. You want to make sure they understand your skillset and how this will help them move the department / company forward.)

Remember to keep your answers short. Stats are BIG in showing how you have helped grow a company, so be sure to include them if you can. Also, The Job Shop can’t say enough about making sure you always stay positive with your answers!

Follow up after the interview

Immediately follow up with the employer while it is fresh in your mind. Doing this will remind the employer of your conversation, shows them that you are interested in the position, and gives you the opportunity to bring up points you may have forgotten to mention or which didn't come up. Please make sure you spell check and you follow up with each person you interviewed with.

Looking for more interview tips? Check out Job Shop recruiter Mike G's video tip on the topic!

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