5 Steps of Interview Preparation
1. Analyze the Job Description
Print out the job description, grab a highlighter, and identify the key duties and responsibilities related to the position. Try to identify the parts that will be most important to the position.
2. Clarify Your Strengths and Values
Take some time to identify what skills, attributes, experiences, and strengths you possess that are relevant to the position. Start to put them into words and create a list for yourself that you can reference later.
3. Research the Employer
Soak up as much information as you can about the organization. Become familiar with their history, mission, and culture as well as their products/services, competitors, geographic locations, etc, etc. It's also helpful to be knowledgeable about industry trends, recent press releases and any awards or recognition the organization has received. This information can be obtained in the following ways:
- Company/organization website
- Online news search of company name
- Wikipedia search of company name
- Hoover's Company Profiles (Available through SJSU Library)
- Business Insights: Essentials
4. Anticipate Questions and Prepare Answers Ahead of Time
The idea here is to try to do as much thinking ahead of your interview as possible, rather than having to come up with answers on the spot. Don't memorize your answers word-for-word, instead identify the core components of your answer. You can then work these core components into your answers giving them a natural, spontaneous tone.
Part 1: Grab a list of typical interview questions and start working out your responses. How would you respond to "Tell me about yourself?" or "What are your greatest strengths?" You can craft your answers based on your analysis of the job description to ensure your answers will be a match.
Part 2: Work out your responses to more advanced questions like behavioral interview questions. Perhaps choose some questions that you really hope you don't get. This will help you feel more confident going in.
5. Prepare Questions for the Employer
At the end of the interview it's common for the interviewer to ask "Do you have any questions for me?" The worst possible answer to this question is "No." This is also not the time to ask questions about compensation or benefits, save those for after you are offered the position.
This is the time to ask questions to learn more about organization, department culture, management style, or you can show off some the knowledge you gained in researching the employer by asking question related to what you learned:
Example: "I understand your company is planning to expand to the East Coast over the next few years. What role will the marketing department play in helping to accomplish that?"
Other possible questions:
- What do you like best about working here?
- What would a typical day look like?
- In your opinion, what do you think is the most challenging aspect of this job?
- What would success look like after 3 months or 6 months in this position?
- In reviewing your organization's web site, I noticed _____________. How is that project progressing?
- What is the next step in the interviewing process?
Now that you've completed your preparations, its time to practice and perfect your answers and approach to the questions you've chosen. Repetition will help you remember the core components to your answers. You can practice at home in a mirror, or use our virtual interview resource Big Interview.