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The job interview. It’s a nerve-wracking, sometimes dreaded and overall necessary part of the job application process. It gives the company a chance to get to know you, the applicant — and vice versa. Not only is the interview an opportunity to speak at length about your résumé, qualifications and why you’re the right candidate, but it also gives you a chance to learn about your potential future team. Nailing a job interview takes tactful preparation, and crafting answers to common interview questions that are unique, concise and, of course, accurate to you and your background.
How to Prepare for an Interview: A Guide
Guidance for how to prepare for an interview depends somewhat on the nature of the position you’re applying for, as well as how far you are in the application process. A third-round interview is going to look different from the initial recruiter screen, and late-stage interviews for engineers consist of different questions than those for PR professionals, consultants and project managers.
Regardless of where you’re applying or what you’re applying for, however, there are some standard best practices for how to prepare for an interview. There are common interview questions about your background, prior job experience and relevant skills everyone should be prepared to answer. SPY collaborated with the career experts at ZipRecruiter to walk you through the process and teach you how to nail every job interview.
Follow the steps below and you’ll be well on your way to that euphoric post-interview feeling where you’re (pretty) sure the job is yours to lose.
Preparing for a Job Interview: Steps Everyone Should Take
No matter if you’re a seasoned professional looking to do a mid-career pivot or a fresh college graduate applying to your first job, here are a few steps everyone should take when preparing for an interview. The job interview questions and answers may vary from industry to industry, but following this advice will help you no matter what.
Julia Pollak, Chief Economist at ZipRecruiter, offered us some advice on how to prepare for an interview from one of the largest and most popular job search engines in the world.
1. Don’t Skimp on the Research
Looking into the company beyond just the job description can be majorly helpful in interview preparation. Not only will it give you helpful context about the role, but it can help you share your answers to what’s most relevant to the company’s current needs and mission.
“Research the company, its mission, its products and services, and its leadership team,” says Pollack.
“Doing even a small amount of research will place you head and shoulders above the other candidates.”
It doesn’t take pages of reading to learn what you need to know about the company. Familiarize yourself with who is interviewing you, the rest of the team you would be working with, the recent work of that team and the company’s mission at large.
2. Prepare Answers to Even the Most Obvious of Questions
One of the most common interview questions is “So, tell me about yourself.” You’d be shocked how many people don’t have a clear, concise answer prepared for this question. Sure, you know yourself and could give a rough biography to anyone who asked you on the street, but in a job interview you’ll want your answers to be a bit more practiced.
“Practice answering the most commonly asked interview questions. Most interviewers will say something like: “So, tell me about yourself,'” says Pollack.
“You should feel comfortable and confident giving them a 30-60-second elevator pitch that describes your relevant experience. Many candidates um and ah and then give a rambling biography.”
A few other job interview questions and answers you should have prepared:
- Why are you interested in this position?
- What are your long-term career goals? Where would you like to be in 5, 10, 15 years?
- What are you looking for in your next team?
3. Read Your Answers Out Loud
Write out your answers to each of the questions above and speak them out loud, timing yourself and cutting out extraneous words where you can. During the interview nerves can cause rambling, so having an outline of what you want to say, and feeling confident in your answers, can go a long way.
The Best ZipRecruiter Tools to Prepare for a Job Interview
ZipRecruiter has many tools for job seekers looking for their next great opportunity, including tools specifically designed to help you through the interview process. Being a skilled interviewee takes time and practice, but once you’ve honed your abilities they’ll serve you throughout the rest of your career, as very few job offers are given out without at least a few completed job interviews.
According to Pollack, these are the best ZipRecruiter tools and resources for job seekers looking to prepare for interviews. Many of the tools below are available for free on ZipRecruiter‘s website and don’t require a membership fee or subscription.
1. Browse Job Postings
“See which skills employers are demanding for the roles you want, and be sure to obtain skills you’re missing, and highlight relevant skills prominently on your résumé,” said Pollack.
If you have a job interview scheduled, chances are you’ve already found a job posting you’re interested in. However, you’ll want to look at other, similar job postings within your industry and profession and see the common skills they’re all asking for. Make sure you not only have those skills on your resume but are prepared to discuss them, how you acquired them and how you’d apply them to the role you’re interested in.
2. Look at ZipRecruiter Salary Pages
“Find out what the going rate is in your industry and part of the country so that you know what to expect and what to negotiate for,” says Pollack.
Another key, albeit advanced, part of the interview process is salary negotiation. Knowing how much you’re worth, and should make, can help you enter those conversations with confidence and end up with an opportunity and pay level that you’re satisfied with.
3. Sign Up for Email Alerts
ZipRecruiter offers email alerts for job postings in a wide variety of industries and professions. Time is of the essence when it comes to applying, so receiving alerts can help you stay up to date on the most pertinent information.
“Many employers only ever review applications submitted in the first week or two, so timing matters a lot. ZipRecruiter will alert you the instant a relevant job is posted. Apply right away,” says Pollack.
4. Enter ZipRecruiter’s Resume Database
ZipRecruiter is known for being a useful database for job seekers as well as employers researching candidates. They have a résumé database that prospective employees can enter into in order to be found by employers and invited to apply to new roles.
“Agree to join our résumé database and allow employers to find you and invite you to apply for their open roles. That way, even when you’re not actively looking for jobs, the right jobs can come to you,” Pollack says.
5. Apply With Just One Click
After you’ve uploaded your résumé and relevant information about you, ZipRecruiter enables you to apply to some jobs using just one click. This eliminates the laborious chore of some applications and makes the whole process easy and quick.
“Use our one-click apply feature to speed up the process and overcome the tendency many of us have to procrastinate,” says Pollack. If you’re a serial procrastinator, don’t let your future career prospects suffer, use this tool instead.”