How to prepare for an interview.
How to prepare for an interview.
Congratulations! After all of those applications you spent hours and hours of your time working on, you've finally been selected to move onto the next step: the dreaded interview stage. Whether you're new to the professional world or are seasoned, interviews can be nerve-wracking experiences, and so here are some tips to help calm those nerves and prepare you for an interview.
Dress to impress.
If you have been given no clear guidelines regarding the dress code, always arrive at your interview dressed smart and professionally. First impressions matter, and it is important to give the impression that you're serious about the job. However, don’t go digging out that terribly restrictive and uncomfortable pencil skirt from the back of your wardrobe just yet - thankfully, there are a few ways to dress professionally whilst staying within your comfort zone.
- Avoid flashy colors - You're less likely to be taken seriously if you sport a neon green dress. Try to aim for darker or more neutral colors if possible.
- Avoid overpowering fragrances - Try to avoid fragrances with a strong scent. Remember that not everyone has the same palette as you and may find certain smells off-putting (even though it smells so good to you!).
- Dress up, not down - Even if you know that the office you’re applying to has a pretty casual dress code, it’s important to still dress smart. As before, first impressions matter, and if you’re ever in doubt... blazers help!
Review your CV/Resume.
You need to be prepared to back up anything you have on your resume. If you took a programming class and say you're knowledgeable about C++, you better be ready to explain what a constructor (or any other terms) means. The same goes for the tasks performed in your prior jobs. It is important to avoid over-glorifying something if there's no story behind it! Here's an example of a question asked during my interview:
RESUME: Created audit reports from assessments performed, consisting of the project scope, findings, and recommendations.
Interviewer: "I see you have experience in creating audit reports. Tell me more about it."
Me: "Whenever I was involved in cybersecurity assessments or audits, I would typically quarterback the final report by putting together our scope with the findings and recommendations. [...]"
Do research on the interview location.
You need to do some research on the interview location because having some background knowledge can save you a ton of time later on. I've heard stories of friends taking longer than they expected to arrive due to traffic congestion or the walk from the parking lot to the building is lengthy. Here are some questions to consider:
- How long does it take to arrive at the facility?
- Where is the parking lot?
- Do you need to pay for parking upfront?
- What is the route from the parking lot to the building?
- Do you expect traffic, and therefore need more time to commute? What does the facility look like on Google Maps (street view)?
Essentials to bring to the interview.
Don't go into an interview empty-handed. During the interview, you would want to impress the interviewer and the easiest way would be to come prepared. You don't want to give the impression that you didn't give the interview any thought. You should consider bringing the following:
- Printed Resumes/CVs - Sometimes, interviewers won't print your resume out themselves, and instead will expect you to have some spare resumes on hand. So, be prepared! Having your resume/CV printed will also enable you to have a quick glance over it before you head into the meeting, too.
- Personal Business Card - You want to look like you have everything together, right? It's important to have personal branding and having a personal business card helps. You may get bonus points from interviewers for this!
- Executive Portfolio - If you're bringing some printed resumes, where are you going to store them? Look presentable and don't embarrass yourself with a manila folder. Invest in an executive portfolio and it'll carry you throughout your career.
- Notepad and Pen - Sometimes, interviewers would tell you something important that you'd want to write down. Having a notepad and pen readily available will allow you to jot down notes without causing a distraction or interrupting the flow of the conversation.
Review the job position.
There's nothing worse than going into an interview and not knowing the details of the job position. Make sure you review what the job position is about and be familiar with the qualifications. That way, you can pivot yourself in the right direction. The best way to review the qualifications would be to brainstorm ways you can relate to each item. Some interviewers want you to go straight to the point when it comes to answering their questions while others prefer a story. Use your best judgment to see what your interviewers prefer (or ask them).
Be prepared to ask questions.
Interviewers love it when interviewees ask insightful questions (particularly because this is part of the interview that Google can’t answer!). They want to see the interviewee being interested in the position and wanting to be part of the culture. At the same time, remember that interviews are meant to benefit both parties, and so this is a great opportunity for you to see if the company, and the role, are the right fit for you sooner rather than later.