Women doing job interview preparations

Job Interview Preparation: The Ultimate Guide

There was a time not that long ago when job interview preparation consisted of researching the company, and include some of that research in your answers.

These days, you’ll be standing out if you haven’t researched the company. But the problem is – you stand out for the wrong reasons.
And you won’t make it past the first interview.

Research is only part of the job interview preparations you need to do these days. And in this episode I’m sharing the 7 preparation steps I recommend that you do before every interview.

Make sure you download the FREE workbook that contains these 7 steps and that will help you structure your preparations.

Women doing job interview preparations
Preparation workbook ad The Career Upgrade

Be prepared and You’ll be impressive!

The job interview preparation steps that I’m sharing with you today, are steps I’ve done every time I’ve been interviewing for a job. And these are steps all my coaching clients takes when they’re preparing for their interviews.

It is not enough these days to have an excellent track record or glowing performance reviews. It certainly helps, but for you to be noticed, YOU need to make sure that you ARE noticed. And the best way to do that is to prepare your answers so that you come across as confident and well-spoken.

And in this episode, I’ll show you how to do just that.

Let’s dive in!

Video Transcript

CONTENT

Introduction

In order to best prepare, you need to understand why companies hire in the first place

Step #1: Clean up your online presence

Step #2: Understand what the company is looking for and what problem they need to solve

Step #3: What are you looking for in your next job, and why?

Step #4: Get clear on what your competences and capabilities are?

Step #5: Research the company, the interviewer and the top leaders

Step #6: Prepare your answers (at least to the common interview questions)

Step #7: Prepare questions to ask the interviewer

Closing remarks

Introduction

There was a time not that long ago when the only thing you needed to do to stand out against the other candidates was to research the company beforehand. And include some of that research in your answers. These days, you’ll be standing out if you haven’t researched the company. But the problem is – you stand out for the wrong reasons. And you won’t make it past the first interview.

Research is not the only thing you need to do these days when preparing for a job interview. And in today’s video, I’m going to share with you the seven preparation steps I recommend that you do before the job interview, to make sure you’re doing everything you can to get that job offer.

Welcome to the Career Upgrade. My name is Petra Pearce, and I am a Career Strategist and a Coach. Over the past 20 years, I have worked as a global HR leader in several Fortune 500 companies, helping hundreds of professionals, just like you, to build their careers and maximize their performance.

Here on this channel, I’m sharing insights on how to answer interview questions as well as tips on how to level up in your career. If that’s something you’re interested in, make sure to hit the subscribe button below and the notification bell, so you don’t miss out whenever I post a new video.

So, what are these seven steps that I recommend that you’ll do before the job interview? Before we dive into those, let’s first remind ourselves why companies hire.

In order to best prepare, you need to understand why companies hire in the first place

Well, they hire because they have a problem to solve.
Typically, this problem is either a resource or a competence need. In other words, they either don’t have enough employees to do the work, or they’re don’t have anyone employed in the company that has a specific skill that they need. Sometimes, companies hire because they need both – more resources and someone with a specific skill no-one else in the company has.
Keeping this in mind when you prepare for your interview, will help you focus your preparation AND plan your answers.

Okay, so let’s look at the seven preparations steps I recommend that you should do before you attend an interview. These are steps that I’ve done every time I’ve interviewed for a position, and also steps I recommend to all my coaching clients.

If you haven’t already, make sure you download the workbook for this episode. The link is down below, and it’ll help you structure your answers, so go ahead and download that now before you continue. Just click on the link, enter your email address, and the workbook is sent to you straight away.

illustration of confident woman

Step #1: Clean up your online presence

Okay, so this first step isn’t really about the job interview, but it is so important and easy to miss that I had to start with this. We get so wrapped up in preparing for the questions and researching the company that we often forget that will actually research us too.

Hopefully, you’ve already cleaned up your online presence BEFORE you started to apply for jobs, but if you haven’t, make sure that before you do anything else. So, google your name and see what comes up. You obviously cannot control everything that comes up in the search result but the things you can control, you should tidy up, so when the recruiter or the hiring manager or anyone else from the company you’re interviewing with are googling you, they’ll get a good first impression.

You can be confident that they’ll check all your social media channels, so you want to make sure that those give the impression you want them to give to your future employer. And if your google search shows an answer in a forum that you may not want a prospective employer to discover, I recommend you go into that forum and delete the comment if you are able to do that, if I were you.

illustration of business woman considering job opportunities

Step #2: Understand what the company is looking for and what problem they need to solve

Step number two in the preparation process is to understand what they are looking for and what problem they’re trying to solve with hiring for this position. In this step, you should examine the job description and go through it almost sentence by sentence. And really think about what they’re job description is saying.

What I have found work well for me is to write down my interpretation of what they are looking for. I write it in a way as if someone would ask me, “what do you know about the role,” which, by the way, is a question that you’ll probably going to get asked at some point in the interview.

Many candidates do prepare for the interview by reading, and in some cases, even memorizes the job description but not many candidates take the time to really think about what the company is actually trying to achieve by filling the role. Even fewer candidates are prepared enough to be able to articulate this with their own words (as opposed to just repeating what is said in the job posting). So if you prepare this way, you’ll definitely stand out.

illustration of business woman confident in her capabilities

Step #3: What are you looking for in your next job, and why?

The third preparation step is to get clear on what you are looking for in your next job and why.

One of the fundamental things that the interviewer is looking to understand in the interview process is your future aspirations and how well their role fits into those aspirations. Why? Well, if their role is perfectly aligned with your future aspirations, it significantly increases the chances that you’ll do an outstanding job and that you’ll stay employed with the company for a long time.

There are many different ways that interviewers can ask questions to get clarity on this. A direct question may be “How long do you plan on working here?” but they can also ask more discreetly by using questions like “why do you want to work here” or “what interests you about this position.” So, you want to make sure you are prepared to answer those questions.

Not only that. To give yourself a chance to determine whether this role and this company is the right one for you, it is essential that you take time and get clear on what you are looking for in your next job and why, so that you can make sure that you assess THEM just as much as they are evaluating you.

I have a very simple exercise that can help you get clearer on your future aspirations. You’ll find the exercise in the workbook, but simply put, what you do is to think about your ideal position from three different angles.

The first one is – when you think about an ideal role, what are the aspects that have to be there in order for it to be an ideal role (so what are the non-negotiable aspects)?

The second angle is – what are the aspects in the ideal position that you can live with? What are the things that doesn’t matter if it’s there or not?

And then the third angle is – what are the aspects that you absolutely don’t want included in the ideal position? So again, what are the non-negotiable aspects? But this time, what is it that you absolutely don’t want to do?

I find that when I do this exercise, after having looked at the job description, it helps me formulate why I want the job and how it fits into my future aspirations, which I then also write down so that I can reference back to it during the interview process.

Job Preparation step 4 The Career Upgrade

Step #4: Get clear on what your competences and capabilities are

Okay. Let’s move onto step number four which is knowing what your competences and capabilities are. And which ones are your strengths and which ones are less strong.

Many of the questions you’re asked in an interview is related to assessing if you have the right skills and capabilities for the job. So it is important that you are clear about what your skills are. You also want to make sure that you know which of your skills are your strong ones and which ones you’re weaker in. Since you’re going to have to talk about it at some point during the interview process.

One exercise I always recommend that you do when starting your job search is a skills-inventory and self-assessment exercise. This one I actually recommend that you do at the beginning of your job search and not wait until you have an interview scheduled.

I go deeper into explaining this exercise in the workbook and if you haven’t yet downloaded the book, now is a good time to pause the video and click on that link below.

What you do in this exercise is that you look at your resume and you list all your skills and once you have them listed, you go through each of them and answer the following questions:

  • What’s my current skill level (is it low, medium, high)?
  • What’s an example when this has been a strength in my past?
  • What’s an example when this has been a weakness in my past?
  • What action or actions have I taken to improve this skill?
  • What are the results I’ve had with this skill? Here’s you want to focus on something tangible for a business. So for example, did you save money? Did you increase revenue? Did you increase productivity? Did you improve a process? It’s obviously different for different skills, and not everything applies, but the key is to keep it business focused. In other words, what’s in it for them. 

You should do this for all the skills that you’ve listed and make sure that you’re honest in your self-evaluation and that you write REAL examples. And that you keep your answers short and positive. When it is time to prepare for the specific interview, all you have to do is cross-reference your list of skills with the skills they outlined that they need. And that helps you prepare your answers.

This preparation step is a great exercise to do when preparing for the questions related to your strengths and weaknesses. I have videos coming up in the next couple of weeks that will dive deeper into HOW to answer both “what are your strengths” and “what are your weaknesses” questions. And where I give more examples on how to structure the answer.

illustration of businesswoman doing job interview preparations

Step #5: Research the company, the interviewer and the top leaders

Okay, let’s move onto step number five which is research the company.

This step is probably the one that takes the most time, but it is also the one thing that can really pay off if you do it properly. Most candidates these days are doing some kind of research, but not everyone takes the time to internalize and understand the information, so if you do that, it will set you apart from the rest.

Read the company website

Okay. The first research step is to read the company website. I recommend to always start your research by reading the company website. This so you get a clear understanding of their history, the size of the organization, where they are located, how they make money (so what their service or products are) and what makes them unique, etc. You also want to spend time understanding things like their vision and mission, what their culture is like and what their values are.

If they have a careers page, which most companies have, you should definitely read those pages to get an understanding of what it would be like to work there.Then I recommend that you look at the investor pages or if they have a specific section that outlines their management structure. You want to find the names of the top leaders and write that information down because you’ll use that later on.

Google the organisation

The next thing I’ll recommend that you do is to google the organisation, so you have a good understanding of what is being covered externally about the company. So, you’re looking for articles, blog posts, forum posts, etc. which mentions the company.

Follow the company on social media

The next recommendation I have is that you should sign up for their social media channels as soon as you’ve been scheduled for the interview, because you want to make sure you’re keeping up to date with the latest news. As a minimum, you should follow their LinkedIn page, Facebook page, Twitter, and Instagram. And make sure to turn the notifications on for this, so you don’t miss when they publish something on these channels. Take note of anything that you believe can be beneficial for you to bring up in the interview. Or at least be aware of.

Research the interviewers you’ll be meeting with

Okay. The next research step is to research the interviewers you’ll be meeting with. Before the interview, find out as much as you can about the people you’ll be meeting with. Google them and check out their LinkedIn profile and see what comes up and just try and find out more about them, so you don’t walk in ‘blind’ to the meeting. If you’re able to find anything about their interests or what they may like/dislike, that is great.

But there’s a balance here that is important. You don’t want to do too much research because that can start influence your behavior in the interview. But some knowledge of who they are, and what their professional background is, is useful information to have.

Research the Executives / Top leaders

Okay. The next step is to research the executives, or the top leaders. For this step, the names that you collected when you researched the company comes in handy. Because now, we are going to look for information about them.

What you want to find out, is information that can give you insights on what their current focus is and what they talk about publicly. Even if you may not be meeting with them, it is still useful information to have. Because after all, it is the Executives and the Top leaders that set the tone in the organisation. So it’s good to have some insights into who they are and what they stand for.

Okay. That wraps up the research step.

illustration of business woman answering interview questions

Step #6: Prepare your answers (at least to the common interview questions)

Let’s look at preparation step number six which is preparing your answers.

It is so essential that you prepare your answers in advance so that you know how to present yourself in the best possible way. And to stand out as the best candidate for the job. Unfortunately, it is not enough these days to have an excellent track record or glowing performance reviews. It certainly helps, but for you to be noticed, YOU need to make sure that you ARE noticed. And the best way to do that is to prepare your answers so that you come across as confident and well-spoken.

So, make sure that you allow time to prepare and, in some cases, even rehearse your answers. Here on this channel, I’m sharing tips on how to prepare and answer interview questions, and I have loads more videos coming up on how to answer specific questions. And if you want more personalized help with preparing your interview, check out my website.

Job Preparation step 7 The Career Upgrade

Step #7: Prepare questions to ask the interviewer

Preparation step number 7 and the final step in our list of preparations is all about preparing questions to ask the interviewer. Most interviewer finishes the interview with asking “do you have any questions for me” and this one can be a little tricky.

One the one hand, it is important that you don’t say, “no, actually I don’t – I feel that you’ve covered everything I wanted to know.” It may be true, but what you are doing is signaling to the interviewer that you are not really that interested. Which is not is something that you want to do. Unless you’re not interested of course – because in that case – signal away.

At the same time, this final remark can also often be a courtesy question. And the interviewer is not all that interested in answering questions. So you need to make sure that your question is a REAL question, and not just a question you ask because you can’t say that you don’t have any questions.

In the workbook, there is a list of suggested questions that you can ask in each stage of the interview process so if you need help with coming up questions, I recommend you’ll check that section out.

Closing remarks

That’s it. That’s the seven preparation steps I recommend that you do as a minimum to prepare for your job interview. And that will help you get past the first round of interviews and, if you do it right, all the way to a job offer. I hope you found this useful and that it helps with your job interview preparations.

If you liked this video, please give it a thumbs up and let me know in the comments what your biggest takeaway is from what I’ve just shared with you. Good luck with your interview, thank you so much for watching, and I’ll see you soon!

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Do you have a job interview coming up? Take these 7 simple job interview preparation steps and nail your next interview.
Do you have a job interview coming up? Take these 7 simple job interview preparation steps and nail your next interview.

Hi, I'm Petra Pearce

I recently pivoted my career from working as an HR leader for over two decades in global organizations and in places like Silicon Valley, Singapore and London, to now devote all my time helping corporate jobseekers land job offers fast by teaching them how to upgrade their interview skills.

FREE Workbook: 7 Simple Steps to Prepare For Your Next Job Interview

I’m sharing my secret for how I’ve been able to nail the interviews EVERY time!

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Comments

3 Comments

  1. Ann

    Interviews can be overwhelming and scary. Sometimes I never know if I’m prepared enough for them. You cover some great points, such as doing research on the company and interviewers. Thank you for sharing such valuable information!

    Reply
  2. sam

    very good content and really helpful

    Reply
  3. Sarah

    Great article with very useful information!

    Reply

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