Looking for a job is never easy and can be quite nerve-wracking. To ease you into this process, here is everything you need to know in order to prepare for an interview PLUS a list of the top 5 questions you need to prepare to ensure you come out on top.
Why is it important to prepare for an interview?
The entire jobhunting process requires you to be confident, to sell yourself, your skills, experience and education to land your dream job. Unless you’re Kanye West, selling yourself may be a far cry from your comfort zone.
For this reason, being well-prepared is the best position to be in. Refresh your memory on information which may seem obvious to you, like your previous experience or prepare for questions that directly relate to the role you’re applying for will help you speak with confidence and be advantageous in many ways.
The less mental energy you spend on answers you already have, the sharper you’ll be to think on your feet with unexpected questions.
How to prepare for an interview when you have anxiety
With a pre-existing condition such as anxiety, the interview step in the process of job hunting can be even more daunting than it already is for the average Joe. Although anxiety in this context is pretty normal and could actually motivate you and give you the energy you need to be a quick-thinker, it certainly doesn’t help if you are living with debilitating anxiety.
Here’s how you can keep calm during an interview
Be aware of what you consume before your interview
Have a light snack before your interview to avoid the distraction and embarrassment of a growling stomach. Make sure to not have something heavy as a full tummy could lead to postprandial somnolence AKA a food coma. If you’re not interviewing at a Spanish company, your interviewer might not be accepting of you taking a little siesta in the middle of your interview.
Write down your responses
According to Laszlo Bock, Google’s former HR chief, jotting down your answers to potential interview questions can help you retain the information. “Yes, it’s a pain to actually write something. It’s hard and frustrating. But it makes it stick in your brain. That’s important,” says Bock in a LinkedIn post.
Take a few moments to breathe before you go into the interview. Of course, you’re breathing, but in intensified moments of panic or anxiety, you may experience an accelerated heart rate and shortness of breath. It could help to practice a mindfulness meditation, where you focus on your breath, bringing your attention to the present moment.
There are many breathing exercises that could help you. Here is a list of 8 instructional deep breathing exercises for anxiety.
What to prepare for an interview
Once you are mentally and emotionally prepared, it’s time to get all your ducks in a row.
Here’s what you need to prepare for an interview:
- Plan your outfit the night before – successful people like Mark Zuckerberg and Jeff Bezos believe in something called decision fatigue. According to CNN, the more decisions you make per day, the worse you get at making decisions.
- Time management – plan the day of your interview. Make sure you have enough time to eat, drink and commute to the place of your interview, considering potential traffic. Plan to arrive at least 15 minutes before your interview is meant to commence.
- Set up your space – if you are having a virtual interview, make sure that the space that will be visible on camera is clean, neat and professional. Test your camera and microphone and log in at least 5 minutes before your meeting is set to begin.
- Take your portfolio or any other examples of your work – if you are a creative, it’s always good to take some samples of your best work. This will give your interview, a reference point for when you are answering questions.
5 questions to prepare for an interview
Tell me more about yourself. What are your strengths and weaknesses?
When recruiters ask you to tell them more about who you are, they are not necessarily wanting to know how you survived last weekend’s rendezvous with your BFF. This is why it’s important to read the room.
Read the interviewer’s tone and body language to decipher whether they are trying to get to know you on a personal level or if they are strictly asking about your professional life.
To be safe, give them a bit of both. They have already seen your resume, so regurgitating your previous job titles and former employers won’t be enough. Connect the dots for them. Explain why you felt like it was time to leave a company and why you chose to settle for another.
Interviewers are human, and like us, they want to be captivated and nothing captivates like a great story. Share your character traits and relate them to a situation where they best served you in a professional situation.
Your resume answers the “what” and this is your chance to provide them with the “why”.
How do you function under pressure?
Most employers ask this question with the same intensity as if your intended role is to take patients into open-heart surgery, but what they really want to know is: are you going to fold when the going gets tough?
For many creatives working on multiple portfolios, interviewers want to know that you will be able to balance your workload and looming deadlines, even amid stress. They want to know that you will be able to deliver what is expected of you and not go off on your colleague or peer.
If you are not good at holding it all together, be honest about it. Share the steps you are taking to get better at it.
Being transparent will give you credibility and allow the recruiter the opportunity to see that you are honest and self-aware, which could count in your favour.
Do you prefer to work independently or in a team?
This answer is relative to the job in question, but it also speaks to the amount of research you’ve done on the company culture. In some cases, companies care if their employees are engaged and participate in company events. In that case, they would probably want to hear that you enjoy being a team player.
Once again, be honest. If you’re not a social butterfly, don’t pretend to be. Recruiters work with people all day, every day. They will be able to read through you if you are dishonest and that might count against you.
Rather answer honestly, if you prefer to work independently, but explain how that approach has served you professionally.
How do you keep yourself organized when juggling multiple projects?
This is a vital moment to emphasize that you take deadlines seriously and that you won’t need someone to micro-manage you to ensure productivity.
Share your personal and/or professional task management systems. Give them some examples of how you generally stay on top of your projects and how you allocate your time according to priorities. Be sure to mention any tools that you may rely on to complete your day-to-day tasks.
Why are you the best person for the job?
At this point, the recruiter wants to see that you believe that you are a fit for this role. You know yourself, what you’ve done before and what you’re capable of. This is the time to put your strengths on display and state your claim to this position.
This is a good time to tie everything together, sum up some of the things that you’ve previously mentioned and throw in some of your previous professional experiences that you might not have had the opportunity to mention before, but that you deem necessary for this role.
Interviews can be stressful and at Believe Resourcing, we understand that some people may need more preparation than others. We hope that these tips will bring you the positive outcome that you deserve. Keep your eyes peeled for more tips from our team of global talent acquisition specialists.