The Job Hunter Checklist: Preparing for a Job Interview

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A typical employer will interview 6 to 10 candidates for a job, and candidates will usually go through at least 2 to 3 interviews before getting hired according to interview statistics collected by LegalJobs. Since you have other competitors for the spot and there are a series of interviews, you need to be well prepared to pass all these interview rounds.

Getting ready for a job interview is more than just researching the perfect answers for the common interview questions and dressing the part. You need to make a great impression and demonstrate to the interviewer that you are the right candidate for the job. To help you get prepared, here are the best practices to ace the interview and secure a job offer.  

Review the job description

The first thing you need to do for your job interview preparation is to review the job description. After all, you need to know what you are applying for. Reviewing the job description lets you note down relevant keywords in your answers to possible interview questions. 

How do you find the right keywords in a job description? First, examine multiple job descriptions for the same position and find the common keywords employers use. These can be specific skills, language proficiency, or software programs. You can usually find these keywords in the requirements and qualification sections of a job description. Next, rerun the job post and note down the skill, knowledge, competencies, and values that the company is looking for in an applicant. 

How to Use Job Descriptions Into an Interview

  • List your job responsibilities and duties found in your work experience section.
  • Review the technical skills and responsibilities listed in the job posting.
  • Identify stories from your past focusing on how you used your skills to solve problems, highlighting your achievements and milestones.
  • Provide further details on how you completed significant projects.
  • Explain your job responsibilities and how you use your skills and qualifications to benefit the company.

Once you have your list of qualifications and examples to back up your answers, you can move on to the next tip.

List your assets

Now that you know what the company is looking for in a candidate, it is time to look at yourself and your key competencies. Which of the keywords from the job posting do you think you can live up to? Do you happen to be well-versed in the particular skill that they are looking for in an applicant?

If you happen to match all of your assets with all of their requirements, that would be perfect. However, such is not the case for most people. You may not match certain items, such as a specific skill or software that you are not familiar with.

The good news is that you can easily offset this with a skill or asset that is above and beyond their expectations. Do you have certifications or a degree that is useful to the job? Or what about your tenacious drive for learning? Use these to prove that you are an asset to the company.  

How to Explain You Would Be an Asset to The Organization

  • Talk about the qualities you have that they can take advantage of by hiring you.
  • Outline how you would use your assets and apply them to the needs of the organization.
  • Illustrate your answers with examples of your previous experiences and emphasize success stories. 
  • When possible, quantify your success stories with measurable details or concrete numbers.
hiring manager interview job applicant

List your assets

Now that you know what the company is looking for in a candidate, it is time to look at yourself and your key competencies. Which of the keywords from the job posting do you think you can live up to? Do you happen to be well-versed in the particular skill that they are looking for in an applicant?

If you happen to match all of your assets with all of their requirements, that would be perfect. However, such is not the case for most people. You may not match certain items, such as a specific skill or software that you are not familiar with.

The good news is that you can easily offset this with a skill or asset that is above and beyond their expectations. Do you have certifications or a degree that is useful to the job? Or what about your tenacious drive for learning? Use these to prove that you are an asset to the company.  

How to Explain You Would Be an Asset to The Organization

  • Talk about the qualities you have that they can take advantage of by hiring you.
  • Outline how you would use your assets and apply them to the needs of the organization.
  • Illustrate your answers with examples of your previous experiences and emphasize success stories. 
  • When possible, quantify your success stories with measurable details or concrete numbers.

Research about the company

Aside from learning about the job itself, doing some research on the company that posted it is a wise job interview preparation habit. This move could give you a good head start as well because:

  • You will learn valuable information about their business, which increases your confidence in having an actual conversation during the interview.
  • It helps you craft your answer to the interview on why you want to work for them.
  • You will gain insights into what they care about and what they prioritize. 
  • It helps you find ways to connect with your interviewer and break the ice by mentioning interesting topics about their company.
  • It allows you to prepare questions to ask at the end of the interview. Asking relevant questions shows your excitement and strong interest in working for them.

Learn about their products and services, their core values and culture, and whether or not you are a good fit for them. You can find out a lot about a company through its website. Take a peek at their “About Us” page and read through a handful of company reviews. If you happen to know people who work there, ask them a few questions like what it’s like to work there.

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Look up common interview questions

If you look up job hunting tips and you get to the part that tackles job interview preparation, many of them will tell you to look up common interview questions and how to answer them. This tip appears over and over again in job interview preparation articles for a good reason. It is a solid fool-proof tip that can make your interview go smoother and feel more natural. 

Interviewers expect you to answer the common interview questions smoothly and confidently. When you know what questions to expect in the interview, you can develop solid answers and understand what to focus on.

Also, knowing that you are prepared to answer interview questions boosts your confidence and becomes less stressed during the interview, and increases your chances of securing a job offer. 

Luckily, there are a lot of resources for common job interview questions, such as this article from The Muse.

Finalize your look

A major part of job interview preparation is your appearance. Psychology dictates that looking good has a positive impact on how you feel. And if you feel good, you are more likely to perform better in an interview. Looking sharp for an interview is key to creating an excellent first impression. It also shows the interviewer how much of an effort you are willing to exert to impress them.

Try on some formal or smart casual looks -depending on the company and position you have applied for. Mix and match items in your wardrobe and include simple accessories that will take your outfit a notch higher. Do this a few days ahead of time so you won’t be scrambling to find clothes on the day of the interview.

For female applicants, practice your makeup and hair at least a day before. Aim for a natural look that will accentuate your best features and make you look fresh and alert.

Personal hygiene is as important as what you wear, and neglecting it can ruin your outfit. Here’s a pre-interview personal hygiene checklist:

  • Feeling nervous is common before and during the interview, so make sure you shower and use antiperspirant.
  • Don’t wear perfume at all. This is because the interviewer might be sensitive and allergic to certain scents. If this happens, it might damage your candidacy.
  • Have clean nails. The way you take care of your nails shows that you pay attention to details.
  • Your hair should be well-brushed, so you look put together.
  • Bad breath is a major turn-off when making a first impression. Therefore, take proper care of your teeth and breath beforehand.
  • Cover tattoos and remove body piercings.
  • Wear clean and appropriate shoes to the company culture.
woman hired in job interview

Brush up on interview etiquette

To come off as snobbish, brash, or prideful is a major turn-off for most interviewers. Even if you are not the social and outgoing type, make an effort to greet the people you come across on the way to the interview room. That includes the guard, the receptionist, and up to the interviewer. Once you meet the interviewer, make eye contact and smile. Give a firm handshake and wait to be prompted to sit.

During the interview, you must pay attention to your body language and actually pay attention to the person speaking to you. Don’t come off as bored or lost in the conversation. Also, crossing your arms may make you seem close-minded or resistant. Below are other useful tips to ensure you have the right body language to leave a good impression.

Body Language Tips to Ace Your Job Interview

  • Sit up straight as it automatically signals confidence, and lean forward a bit when conversing to show your curiosity and engagement. Avoid slouching because it suggests that you don’t care how people think of you.
  • Use subtle hand gestures like moving your hand and fingers while speaking because it signifies honesty and openness. 
  • Rest your hands in your lap at a time and avoid touching your face frequently because it is considered untrustworthy.
  • Mirroring the body language of your interviewer. It does not mean that you should copy the movement exactly, but to adapt to your interviewer’s body language. It helps establish coherence and trust between you and your interviewer.
  • Try your best to be as sincere as you can when answering questions by smiling and nodding while speaking.

Watch out for interview red flags

You are in the position to be the one to please everyone during an interview. However, take note of the interview red flags that you should be keen on for your own safety. 

These red flags can be things conflicting values and presenting an image that openly contradicts your experience during the interview. Or maybe a lack of company vision or a display of bad leadership. 

Here are some telltale signs that you might need to take a step back and consider other options.

Red Flags to Watch For in Job Interviews

Whether you’re desperate for a job or not, don’t pursue your application if the interviewer:

  • Can’t explain the responsibilities of the role clearly and how success is measured.
  • Reschedules your interview (multiple times).
  • Shows inappropriate, rude, or offensive behavior.
  • Makes you feel like you are not being heard.
  • Doesn’t maintain eye contact.
  • Isn’t prepared for the job interview.
  • Doesn’t inquire about your professional goals
  • Uses too many business buzzwords so that their company might sound fun to work for. Overused buzzwords and phrases include:
    • “We are looking for a self-starter.” 
    • “Salary depends on experience.”
    • “We’re like a family here.”
    • “Unlimited earning potential.”
    • “Fast-paced environment.”
    • Describing their ideal candidates as “Ninjas” and “Rockstars.”

Recognizing the red flags and combining this with your observations during the interview can help you get a picture of what working there could be like.

The aftermath

At the last part of the interview, ask about the process moving forward. For example, are they going to contact you or make a decision after a few days? Again, knowing what to expect will help you determine when you will follow up. 

If you want to make a good impression, remember to thank your interviewer for giving you the time and opportunity. Send them a thank-you note expressing your gratitude and reiterating your interest in the position. Doing this gives you a chance to present yourself again and elevate yourself from other candidates by keeping your name fresh in the interviewer’s mind. Also, it demonstrates your eagerness for the job. 

If you feel like you still lack the confidence in facing an interviewer, try out the job interview online courses offered by Skill Success. Some of these courses take on a unique approach to job interview preparation using unconventional techniques like voice vocal exercises, mental preparation, and key targeted focused acting skills.

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