Prepare for a job interview
Did you get invited for a job interview? You might feel nervous. Most people do. But practicing common questions will make you feel more confident. Learn how to prepare for an interview for any job.
Job interview basics
A job interview is a conversation between you and the employer. During the interview, the employer will ask you many questions. You need to know how to prepare for an interview. It is one of the most important steps in getting a job.
The employer will ask about your work experience. They will want to know about your education and any training you have had. Your answers to interview questions also show what kind of person are. If you know how to prepare for an interview, you will show the employer that you are a good person for the job.
Job interviews do not always take place in person. You may have a phone interview first. Use this chance to show how you would help the company. If you pass the phone interview, then you will be interviewed in person. For many jobs, you will have one phone interview and at least one in-person interview. Or they may set up a video call with you.
Steps to prepare for the interview
It is important to prepare for your interview. Every company is different so you must practice every time.
Research the business
Find out everything you can about the company. If your questions and answers show knowledge about the business, the interviewer will know that you care about the work.
You can read through the company’s website information. You can also find information about the company on LinkedIn. Look for answers to these questions:
- What are the company’s goals?
- What is the company’s mission?
- What is the company’s main project/work right now?
- How can your skills benefit the company?
Search for the name of the company on Google and then click “news”. If you see good news, you can mention it in your interview.
Find the company on Glassdoor, which is a website where employees talk about the company. If it’s a public place, such as a store or restaurant, go in and visit. As you do your research, start thinking of some questions you can ask in your interview and write them down.
Review your resume
You have already made and sent in your resume. The employer will ask for more details about anything written on your resume. It is important that you read your resume before the interview. You should be able to describe the companies you worked or volunteered for in the past.
Know where you are going
If you can, make a practice journey to the interview location before your interview day. Learn your route. If it’s a big building, find the right entrance. Then you will be prepared for the day.
Be on time!
Plan ahead and give yourself extra time. It’s better to be early than late because you can wait nearby. Arrive at the interview 10 minutes early but no earlier.
Being a good employee means coming to work on time. Being on time is very important in the USA. Coming to your interview late shows the interviewer that you might be late for work if you are hired. It will lower your chances of being hired even if you have great job interview skills.
If it is a video interview, you still need to plan ahead and give yourself extra time. Make sure that you are in a quiet place and you will not get interrupted. If you do not have internet or a computer at home, find a friend who does and do the interview at their house. You can also talk to your local library to see if they will help set up your interview. Even for a video interview, you need to be ready and waiting a few minutes early.
Look professional even if your job interview will happen on a video call. Here are some ways how to prepare for an interview by looking professional:
Always wear clean clothes to an interview. Take a shower before going to an interview. Brush your teeth and comb your hair.
Don’t be too casual
Do not wear sandals or flip-flops to an interview. Wear socks and shoes. Do not wear casual clothes such as jeans or a t-shirt. Do not wear shorts or tank tops. Do not wear hats, stocking caps, or sunglasses during an interview. Avoid jewelry that is very large and colorful.
Wear business clothes
Professional clothing for men means wearing pants that are not jeans and a long-sleeve shirt with buttons. If the job is very professional, you will need a suit and a tie. For women, a modest dress or a blouse with a skirt or smart pants will be acceptable. But you do not need to spend lots of money! You will find good interview clothes at your local second-hand store, such as Goodwill.
Avoid smoking and alcohol
Do not chew betel nut or tobacco before or during an interview. Do not smoke or use alcohol before an interview. Smoking can make your clothes smell bad. Alcohol is not allowed at any job.
Shake hands, unless you can’t because of religion or culture
Handshakes are common in America. It is ok for men and women to shake hands with each other. If you do not want to shake hands, that is okay. Instead, place your hands across your chest and slightly tilt your head forward. Say clearly, “It is so nice to meet you. Thank you for taking the time to interview me today.” Some people may be surprised that you do not want to share hands. If you feel comfortable, explain that shaking hands with the opposite sex is against your religion.
Smile and make eye contact
Try to smile and look people in the eye. This shows the interviewer you are positive and friendly. Although this might be different than in your culture, it is one of the most important things you can do in the United States to help you get a job. For Americans, making eye contact shows respect and helps people trust you. When you arrive at the interview, you might be greeted by different people. Be polite to everyone you meet and try to look and smile at everyone.
Make sure your phone is turned off
Turn your phone off before the interview. Do not look at your phone. If you forget, and your phone rings, immediately silence it and apologize for the interruption. Do not answer it!
Ask at least one question
Before you come to the job interview, prepare a list of about 5 questions. Questions can be about the company in general or about your role. Ask questions that show you are interested in the job and company. Do not ask questions about salary or time off until you have shown interest in the work and the business. Ask your questions at the end of the interview, or when the employer says, “Do you have any questions?” If all your questions have already been answered, then say, “What are the next steps?” or, “When can I expect to hear from you?”
Try to relax and do your best
Remember, you have already done the hardest part because you already got the job interview. You have learned how to prepare for an interview and you have prepared well. Now it is time to just do your best. Everyone makes mistakes during interviews. If you make an error, take a moment to pause and start again.
Ask for business cards
When the interview is over and you are getting to leave, ask for the business cards of the people you spoke to. When they hand them to you, thank them politely. If they do not have a business card, ask them to write down their full name and email address. This way, you will have their contact information so you can send them a thank you note.
Send a thank you email or letter after the job interview
You can send a thank you note as a letter through the post office or by email. Most people use email. If you forgot to ask for a business card, you can email or call the office and ask for contact information.
In your thank you note, you should mention:
- That you are grateful for the time they spent interviewing you
- What skills you can bring to the company
- That you look forward to hearing from them soon
Below is an example of a thank you note:
Dear [Interviewer Name],
Thank you so much for meeting with me today. It was such a pleasure to learn more about the team and position. I am very excited about the opportunity to join [company name] and help [bring in new clients/serve your customers/anything else you would be doing] with your team.
I look forward to hearing from you about the next steps in the hiring process. Please do not hesitate to contact me if I can provide additional information.
Ask for feedback
If you don’t get the job, send your interviewer a note thanking him or her for interviewing you. Ask them if they will give you feedback on why you didn’t get the job. Tell them that you plan on interviewing for more jobs and want to improve. Not everyone will answer you, but some of them may have some comments that will help you succeed the next time!
- Look for employment opportunities in your city
- Do well at your job
- Sign up to learn workplace English for free
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