Job interviews can be intimidating, no matter how many you’ve had in your quest to find your dream job. However, if you put enough time and effort and learn everything there is to know about how to prepare for an interview, everything should go smoothly.
The first step to becoming an interviewee extraordinaire is, well, to read this guide!
Jokes aside, we did put together an exhaustive collection of tips that will surely give you an edge over other applicants. We will also answer some compelling FAQs related to the topic and discuss pre-interview strategies, common questions you should prepare for, and other things you need to know to ace your next interview.
How to Prepare for a Job Interview
Adequately preparing for a job interview will help you be more in control, and as a result, be more calm and collected. Here are some steps you can take:
- Carefully read the job description, specifically the tasks and duties tied to the role you’re applying for.
- Do some research on the company. Have a solid understanding of its values and plans as well as its history, executive team, and culture.
- Know the most common interview questions and answers and practice by doing mock interviews with a friend.
- Look at the industry as a whole and find out who the company’s main competitors are. This will further show the interviewer that you’re interested and prepared for the interview.
- Prepare extra resumes in case the interviewer needs another copy. You can also prepare your portfolio if you have one.
How to Ace an Interview
1. Arrive on time
While arriving on time is good, being at least 10 minutes early for an interview is even better. This will make a good first impression, and the company will certainly appreciate it. You will also have time to go over your responses to common questions, making you feel more confident and relaxed.
2. Dress sharp
As they say, dress for the job you want, not the job you have. Look through the company’s official website or the job posting for the required dress code. Generally, a business suit or a business casual outfit will do.
3. Mind your body language
Recruiters also pay attention to the things that you don’t say. That is why one of the most important interview tips we’ll give you is to remember to maintain eye contact with the interviewer, avoid slouching, and always be confident throughout the interview.
4. Don’t let your interviewer do all the talking
While they’re supposed to be inquisitive, interviewers often expect applicants to ask informed and appropriate questions regarding the company or the position they’re applying for. Prepare questions in advance, especially regarding growth opportunities, career prospects, and corporate goals.
5. Follow the STAR method
One of the most effective interviewing tips is simply following the STAR method, which stands for “situation, task, action, result.” Whenever an interviewer asks you how you would handle a situation, focus on the context first, then explain your role in the scenario. Lastly, briefly explain what you would do and the likely results of your actions.
6. Follow up with a thank-you email if needed
If your interviewer doesn’t get back to you in five to seven business days, send a follow-up email to show your vivid interest in taking the next step.
How Long Should You Prepare for an Interview?
On average, job seekers spend around 5 to 10 hours on interview preparations. Generally, this is how much it would take you to analyze the job posting, research the company, and practice some common answers and questions.
You can also use the 20-40-40 rule, which entails allotting 20% of your time to research, 40% preparing a list of ideally around 30 common questions to practice responding to, and another 40% practicing those answers aloud. To improve your tone and cadence, consider recording yourself to identify what areas you can improve on.
How to Prepare for an Internship Interview
Like any other interview, you have to prepare and plan for internship interviews. This is especially true because most internship applicants are likely just entering the workforce, so for most, this would be their first, proper interview.
In addition to the steps we’ve already mentioned, here are some tips for preparing for an internship interview.
1. Gather samples of your work
If you lack experience in the industry you want to work in, you can gather samples of relevant work when preparing for an interview. This will be beneficial in that it increases your chances of getting hired.
For example, if you want to work as a graphic designer but have no experience in that area yet, you can show samples of any relevant projects you did in school. However, if you don’t have any samples, don’t worry. Not every industry requires this, and it’s mostly optional.
2. Be prepared to answer questions about your skills
Since you lack work experience, recruiters and interviewers will most likely focus on asking you some frequently asked interview questions about the skills you learned in school. They might also ask you about a tough situation and how you handled it.
3. Research answers to possible technical questions
Technical questions may be asked to gauge if you have basic knowledge about the position you’re applying for. In that case, you should be prepared to answer any of the questions that they throw at you.
4. Ask questions
Although the interviewer will be the one who’s asking most of the questions, don’t be afraid to jump in there. For example, at the end of the interview, if they haven’t provided this information already, you can ask about your salary.
How to Prepare for an Internal Interview
You’ve applied for that anticipated promotion, and now you’re scheduled for an internal interview. Naturally, you should prepare yourself for such an event, and we’re here to give you some additional tips to prepare for this specific kind of interview.
1. Talk to your supervisor
After submitting your application for a promotion, speak with your supervisor to discuss your interest in starting a new position in the company. This is one of the most crucial promotion interview tips on this list because doing this can help you in two ways—your transition will be smoother once you get accepted and you might even be able to get a recommendation from your supervisor.
2. Review your growth in the company
If the interviewer asks you why you’re ready to move forward in the company, talk about how much you’ve grown over the course of your employment. Speak about the skills you’ve gained and the responsibilities you handled to show that you’re ready to take on bigger roles.
3. Treat it like any other interview
Since it’s an internal interview, there’s a good chance that you know the interviewer. They may ask some informal interview questions to relax you a bit, but you should still treat it like you would any other interview. That means you should dress professionally and speak formally.
4. Be open to criticism
Be ready to own up to your mistakes. If the hiring manager mentions something that tainted your employment record, don’t get defensive. Instead, explain what went wrong and what you have learned from it.
5. Prepare to answer some difficult questions
Since you’re already a part of the company, interviewers will expect that you know more than external applicants do. That said, they’ll likely ask role-specific questions.
How to Prepare for an Online Interview
In this day and age, online interviews have become commonplace in job hunting. Fortunately enough, they don’t differ too much from in-person interviews. However, there are additional steps you have to take.
1. Gather information
Gather some vital information, including which online communication platform you’re going to use. If it’s not clear already, ask about the time zone the company operates in as it may differ from yours.
2. Choose a location
One of the most important tips on how to prepare for an interview on Zoom and other online communication platforms is to choose a proper location with adequate lighting. Your background should be neutral and presentable. Lastly, the area you choose should be free from noise and distractions, such as barking pets, alarms, or a TV playing in the background.
3. Dress sharp
Although this is already mentioned, we feel compelled to mention it again. Although the interviewer won’t see you from the waist down, you should still dress appropriately. Doing so will boost your confidence.
4. Do a test run
At least an hour before the interview, you should run some audio, video, and connection tests to ensure everything is functioning properly. Finally, log on at least 10 minutes early to recheck everything.
How to Prepare a Presentation for an Interview
Having impeccable presentation skills is necessary for executive or client-facing positions. That said, you may be asked to give a presentation to assess your skills.
1. Employ the 80/20 rule
To create the perfect balance of impactful and substantial information, employing the 80/20 rule is ideal. Using this rule, you should aim for 20% of your presentation slides to be impactful and thought-provoking and 80% to be filled with information. Keeping this balance will maintain engagement among the audience.
2. Structure it well
Ensuring that your presentation has an easy-to-follow format is one of the many job interview tips that will surely help you stand out. Your presentation should include an introduction, a body, and a conclusion. The introduction should provide a brief yet compelling summary of what you’re going to talk about, the body should contain useful facts, and the conclusion should provide some essential takeaways.
3. Use a variety of illustrations
To help get your point across, you can use diagrams, images, graphs, or video clips. Some people are visual learners, so using visual aids will help them digest information more efficiently.
4. Keep it simple
This is perhaps one of the most important tips on how to prepare a presentation for an interview. A lot could go wrong if you try putting too much design into your slides. You don’t need snazzy fonts to get your audience’s attention. Having a simple and minimalistic design will make your presentation look professional, thereby making it more engaging.
5. Less is more
When creating your slides, avoid cramming too much information into one slide. Divide information into bite-sized pieces that the audience can retain better.
What to Bring to a Job Interview as a Teenager
If you’re a teenager preparing for a job interview, the necessary paperwork you need to bring is a valid ID, such as a passport, driver’s license, school ID, or social security card, your updated resume, and a birth certificate. If it’s required in your state, you will have to bring your work permit. Lastly, you might also want to bring a pen in case there are forms you need to fill out.
How to Prepare for an Interview as a Teenager
Attending a job interview as a teenager can be intimidating. You’re likely just entering the workforce and don’t have a lot of experience with job interviews yet. In that case, the following tips will help you prepare.
1. Do your research
Look into the company you’re going to apply for and study their culture, work environment, and accomplishments. You don’t have to memorize everything—just enough to understand what the business is all about.
2. Practice makes perfect
Rehearse some common interview questions for teens. You can practice in front of the mirror to be aware of your body language as well.
3. Plan your route
The night before the interview, think about how you’ll get there, especially if you don’t have a car. If you want to use public transport, plan your route accordingly. You should arrive for your interview at least 10 minutes early.
4. Dress to impress
Your interview prep should also include choosing the right outfit. Ditch t-shirts, sweatpants, and jeans immediately. Instead, opt for a collared shirt and dress trousers combined with some quality footwear.
5. Be confident
Even though you don’t have a lot of work experience yet, be confident in your skills. Act professional, give firm handshakes, and maintain eye contact with the person you’re speaking with.
6. Keep your phone in silent mode
There’s nothing more unprofessional and distracting than a ringing cell phone during an interview. Before you leave the house, it’s best to leave your phone on silent already so you won’t forget.
How to Prepare for a Video Interview
If you’re applying for a remote job, the interview will likely be conducted via an online video call. That said, our tips for this kind of interview don’t differ a lot from the tips we have for online interviews.
You should gather as much information as you can about the company and the interview, choose a quiet and well-lit location with a neutral background, dress sharp—even if it’s just from the waist up, do a test run the night before the interview and then again a few minutes before, which is why you need to log on at least 10 minutes early.
How to Prepare for an Amazon Interview
Tech firms and ecommerce companies are reputable for having demanding and tricky interviews. Amazon stands out from the crowd since it focuses entirely on your past experiences and some behavioral questions. Here are some ways to prepare for an interview with Amazon.
1. Prepare for behavioral-based questions
Prepare for behavioral questions centered around your experience and achievements. Structure your answers using the STAR method, which entails analyzing the context of the situation first, then going into detail about what your task would be and what you’d do, and lastly, predicting the results of your actions.
2. Don’t be afraid to go into detail
When preparing answers to interview prep questions, remember to dive deep into any information you provide. Don’t spare any details and support your statements with statistics, facts, and specifics. Take pride in your accomplishments, but don’t omit your failures, and be ready to explain why something went bad and what you’ve learned along the way.
3. Understand why you want to work at Amazon
Is it because you see the company as innovative? Are you looking for growth opportunities? Talk about these reasons during your interview. Beyond just understanding what you could bring to the table, Amazon recruiters also want to know what you can learn from the company and how your employment with them will affect your desired career path.
4. Take notes
We have provided you with many tips for interviews, but this one applies specifically to Amazon interviews. Their process will require you to meet with a couple of employees, and keeping track of critical details, stories, and questions may become difficult. Prepare to take notes about crucial information. Importantly, don’t be shy and ask for clarifications if you don’t understand something.
5. Understand Amazon’s culture
Finally, study Amazon’s leadership principles and culture. There are guides and articles on these topics posted on its website. Be prepared to answer all kinds of questions on the subject during your interview.
How to Prepare for an Interview in Retail
If you want to work in retail, you first have to pass a rigorous interview process. Here are some things you can do to prepare.
1. Know the company
Do some research on the target company on its website and social media pages. You should have a clear understanding of the company culture, executive officers, and objectives—bonus points if you get acquainted with an upcoming product. Browse around trade publications as well since you may find some helpful information there.
2. Carefully read the job description
There are a handful of interview preparation tips to help you understand what the store is looking for in its employees, and this is one of them. Carefully perusing the job description will give you an idea of which skills you should play up during your interview.
3. Visit the store
If you have not already done so, check out the physical store. Focus on the route you have to take to get there and plan around it. Additionally, observe how the employees interact with each other and customers.
4. Dress simply but fashionably
One of the common interview tips and tricks is to pick an appropriate outfit—ideally something that reflects the company. If you’re unsure, opt for a business suit or blouse and a black skirt.
5. Be prepared to do a live sales demo
The recruiter may want to see your skills in action, and an effective way of doing that is by asking you to do a live sales demo. You may either be asked to deliver a mock sales pitch to the interviewer or have an actual customer interaction on the sales floor.
What Questions to Prepare for an Interview
Knowing the answers to the most common questions interviewers ask will help the interview go smoothly. Here are some common questions and how to answer them:
1. Could you tell me about yourself and briefly sum up your background?
It may seem simple, but this question can make or break the interview. Captivate your interviewer with excellent storytelling and numerous anecdotes and examples. Emphasize your education and work experience, especially if you’ve managed exciting projects or been part of significant industry breakthroughs.
2. What’s your preferred work environment?
Interview questions like these are meant to gauge how well applicants will fit into an organization. Your goal for this question is to match your views with the organization. If they label their culture as competitive and fast-paced, you should highlight how you thrive in such environments.
3. Do you prefer working in a team or independently?
Some questions, such as this, are related to the job description. That’s why we encourage you to read it carefully before the interview. If the position requires primarily working in a team, highlight your excellent teamwork abilities and add some experiences to back that up.
4. How do you deal with stressful situations?
These behavioral interview questions are trickier to answer. The key is to answer confidently and stress that you do not crumble under pressure. Back that statement with an incident that supports it. You might also be asked to specify what steps you’ve taken to handle the stressful situations you’ve been in in the past.
5. What are your salary expectations?
Extensively research what the average pay for the position is and then balance it with your skills and needs. Don’t bring up your salary yourself—wait until the interviewer asks you about it. When asked, state your expected pay and justify it with a solid rationale.
Questions You Can Ask During an Interview
During your interview preparation, think of any appropriate questions you can ask the interviewer. An interview isn’t a one-way street; you’re also expected to ask questions and make clarifications when appropriate. Interviewers even highly encourage it by asking you at the end of the interview if you have any questions for them.
Here are some appropriate questions to take note of:
1. Are there growth and progression opportunities within the company?
This shows that you’re aiming for a fulfilling career within the company. You should never aim for a static position, so enquiring about the possibility of promotions is an excellent way to understand where your future in the company may be.
2. Can you tell me more about the role’s responsibilities?
While your interview prep has already given you a solid understanding of what the position entails, asking this will help uncover some details that are not specified on the job posting and give you a good idea of the employer’s expectations.
3. What could I do to impress you in the first three months?
Asking this will show that you are eager to learn and make a positive contribution to the company. The recruiter’s response will be crucial—pay close attention to it.
How to Prepare for a Second Interview
You’ve already gone through the first interview process and passed. Now, you must prepare yourself for round two. It’s time to secure the position and close the deal.
1. Look back on the first interview
Reflect on how you did in the first interview. What would you do differently? What impressed your interviewers the most? Put together a list of things you’d like to either rectify or reinforce.
2. Find out who will interview you
Check who’s going to be conducting your second interview. Contact HR or the recruiter to ask them for any information. Then, browse the company’s website or social media pages for names and positions. This way, you’ll know how to approach the hiring committee.
3. Prepare for hard questions
During the second interview, interview questions will be more complex. Think about what they already focused on during your first interview. If you’ve already talked about your work experience and hard skills, for example, they might focus on your soft skills and education.
4. Think about your questions
You should also think about new things to ask the interviewer. Focus on long-term growth, the company’s strategy and expectations, as well as its culture. If you still have some doubts, this is the perfect time to see if you’re a good match for the organization.
5. Dress well
Many second interview tips are a continuation of the initial interview. Just as you did during your first interview, you should dress to impress for the second one. You’re likely to meet more prominent and senior members of the company this time, so you should choose your outfit carefully. Opt for business casual clothing that makes you look sharp.
6. Prepare a final pitch
Lastly, prepare a killer final pitch. You need to persuade the hiring committee into closing the deal, and it’s now or never. Highlight your unique capabilities and show them why you’re the best candidate for the position.
How to Prepare for an Interview: In Conclusion
Your interview preparation can either make or break your application. It’s not always easy, but if you follow these tips, your chances of getting hired will increase exponentially.
From second interviews to common questions, we believe we have covered every crucial detail on this topic to offer you a straightforward yet exhaustive guide on how to ace every single interview.