Some things are best done in the heat of the moment; spontaneous road trips, dancing in the rain, pushing yourself out of your comfort zone. Other things are like fine wine or cheese; they are better when you prepare them over time. This second theory applies to job interviews.
You don’t need to wait for decades to be ready for the perfect interview, but you should prepare in advance. You’ll feel more confident walking into this unknown yet important situation when you’ve done your footwork.
Use these tips if you have at least 24 hours before your interview and want to make a good impression. You’ll be prepared no matter what position you’re trying to land.
1. Review Your Resume
You know your work history. You were the one who did those jobs! But we promise reviewing your resume with this particular position in mind can help you find a selling point you didn’t recognize earlier.
Maybe it’s been a hot minute since you worked at a few of the places on your resume. Take some time to compare those jobs to the one you’re interviewing for and see what they have in common. Adjust your resume’s summary for each job to include those hard and soft skills.
For example, you may have worked in a fast-food restaurant as a line cook years ago, and this week, you’re applying for a position in a bank as a teller. You wouldn’t think the two would have much in common, but they do! Each position requires precision detail to the task at hand, the ability to follow directions and work well with your team, and excellent multitasking skills.
Do this with each job you’ve referenced on your resume, and you’ll have spotlighted the skills they’re looking for in this new position. Even if you’ve already submitted your resume, you’ll know what to talk about when your work history comes up in the discussion.
2. Prepare Your Personal Details
Today’s hiring managers understand the best employees have a combination of hard and soft skills. They also know that your personal life contributes to your ability to be successful on the job.
As your interview develops, you will most likely be asked about your non-professional life. These will be basic questions, such as how long you’ve lived in the area, if you have a family, children, and a spouse nearby, and things like that.
These questions aren’t designed to weed out particular personal lives, and you can pick and choose how much detail you want to go into about yours.
Honesty is Usually the Best Policy
However, this is the right time to let a potential manager know if you’ll need to miss a lot of work because of health issues (your or your family member’s), might be moving soon, or other pertinent details. Eventually, they will find out anyway, and it’s going to look better if you tell them ahead of time.
Preparing “personal” details also means ensuring you can pass the drug test or letting the manager know if you’re on a prescription medication that might show up in your system. For example, medical marijuana is common, but it’s also something that can keep you from getting hired. This article by Veriheal explains how long THC is detected in your system. It’s up to you to decide how to handle the elephant in the room of a drug test.
Honesty is, as they say, usually the best policy when it comes to things that could impact your job or that will be found out anyway. But you don’t need to go into detail and explain that you might move across town because you’ve been fighting with your S.O. too much.
The less drama you’re seen as bringing to the job, the better your chances are of getting hired.
3. Get to Know the STAR Method
The dominant method of interviewing today is the STAR technique. This method uses story-telling questions and answers to provide context and clarity about a person.
During this Q&A session, the interviewer asks you a question, and you provide a response in the STAR format:
- Situation – You’re setting the scene and providing the details that are necessary to explain your answer.
- Task – Clearly explain your job, the problem at hand, and what you were responsible for doing.
- Action – What did you do to solve the problem?
- Result – What were the consequences of the action you took?
If this sounds intimidating, practice with some of the most common STAR interview questions. Prepare your responses, and get familiar with the technique. You may sound a little rehearsed, but for the most part, your confidence will shine through.
During your interview, there are three main categories the interviewer will focus on: your skills, your personal life (and how it affects your career), and your past experience.
These three areas can be conquered by following the tips we’ve shared here. Prepare early, and you’ll knock your interview out of the ballpark.