10 Ways To Prepare For Your Dream Job interview

So you have landed a job interview and now you need to prepare for your job interview. Here are the top 10 things to do to prepare for an interview:

  1. The #1 thing you need to do to prepare for meeting with your potential new Manager is to go online and dig up as much information on the company as possible. Look up the company’s history, its different divisions, locations, sales, news releases etc. The more you know the better. Don’t have the President ask what you think of a certain new company development and have no idea what they are talking about! Plus, many employers ask “Why are you interested in this position?” and you will be able to form a great answer with the extensive knowledge you gained from your research.
  2. Prepare some questions you have about the company and about the job. Stick to questions that can’t be answered by Human Resources or are very simple. Instead, ask questions that will provide real insight into the company, the department, etc. Some good questions are
  3. Come up with some good questions that tie in your research and your particular field. For example if you are an Accountant and you discovered that the company just signed a deal with PeopleSoft, you can ask how the new implementation will affect the Accounting department. Perhaps you read about a merger or an acquisition or maybe you read that the company is lightening their product line. Just remember to prepare at least 3 questions ahead of time.
  4. Prepare a good answer for the key job interview questions “What are your strengths?” and “What are your weaknesses?” For the first question, remember what the job description says – and focus on things that they need. So instead of saying what every single person in the world says when asked this question (hard-working, a team-player, good organizational skills…) say “I am good at anticipating problems and taking quick action – for example last month when I was doing some system maintenance I noticed ______ and I did _____ to remedy it. Our VP thanked me and said that this issue was never addressed by anyone in over 5 years and I saved my company up to $10,000 in future fees. Now, the second question’s answer is a no-brainer – don’t say anything too damning (such as one I heard from a candidate once – and this was an Accountant – “I am not very good with numbers”!) but say something that points out a weakness that you have worked on or are currently working on, like this: “About 2 years ago I had problems with creating complicated spreadsheets and unfortunately my company had no one to train me. So I took a course on the weekends for a few months and have learned more about spreadsheets. Now only occasionally do I need to refer back to my notes but I have learned to be more patient with myself and to take my time if I am getting confused.”
  5. Prepare a good answer for the key job interview question "Why are you looking for a new job?" Of course this applies to you if you are currently employed. You have to be careful with this one since the real reason is not always acceptable to give to your new potential Manager. For example if you wish to leave since your Manager always yells at you or if you have a hard time getting along with your coworkers these are legitimate and reasonable reasons, but to tell the potential employer this is not a good idea as it may reflect on you (what are you doing to make your Manager yell at you or why are you not able to get along with your coworkers?) Unfortunately when given answers like this, most employers will see these reasons as reflecting on your lack of ability to manage your work life well and this could bump you out of consideration. Instead, use the standard “I am ready to make a change after being with my company for 5 years – I am ready for a new industry/new challenge/would like to make the next step in my career…” The key here is to show only positivity and do not slag your soon-to-be former employer even if it is true your Manager is a moron or you haven’t gotten a raise in 5 years – no one wants to hear that and besides, Managers are quick to label you as a troublemaker, unable to sustain good relationships with coworkers, are over-sensitive to criticism etc.
  6. The day or 2 before the interview, make a trip to the office you will be interviewing at and preferably at the same time you will need to be there. This will give you an estimated time to get there the day of the job interview, check out parking if need be and to be familiar with the building. Don’t trust that you will be able to find the company easily – I have lots of stories of candidates getting lost and being 30 minutes late for an interview, pretty much eliminating them immediately from consideration. And be sure to give yourself lots of time for our interview – there are many stories of candidates who were asked to stay to meet other Managers and so you want to make sure you take the afternoon off from your current job or arrange for childcare for the rest of the day.
  7. Brainstorm your accomplishments – you will want to mention them throughout the interview and “sell yourself” into the job. Remember to study the job description (ask for one prior to the interview) and to have a list of 5-10 tangible (and preferably measureable) things you can bring up in conversation. Give the Manager every reason to want to hire you and don’t wait for them to ask what your accomplishments are. Remember that other candidates will be selling themselves so you need to be more assertive than you might normally be and toot your own horn to ensure you get a good shot!
  8. Bring several copies of your resume in the case that you meet with more than one person – don’t assume that everyone will have a copy.
  9. Take a pad of paper and a pen with you and take notes as you meet with the employer – I can’t tell you how many times Managers love to see this. It shows professionalism, that the candidate takes the interview seriously and shows how organized you are.
  10. Practice appearing positive and happy – sounds strange I know, but this will make a huge difference in the interview. There is so much bad news out there these days and no doubt your Manager is feeling the pinch, so by smiling (even if you don’t feel like it) and being pleasant, this will go a long way. Let the Manager know that by hiring you they will get a happy person who is able to stay positive while things can seem the opposite.

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