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How to Nail that Job Interview! Manage Your Apprehension with Preparation

how to nail that interview: businessman being interviewed

So you’ve landed a job interview! And maybe one you really, really wanted. Well, first up: Congratulations. It’s a long slog to get from searching job sites, preparing your resume, writing knock-’em-dead cover letters to receiving that “Good news!” subject line. Assure yourself you’ve done something right. Then prepare to do more.

An interview can be a lot like a first date—all the dressing up, butterflies, handshakes and nervous laughter. It’s putting your best behavior on overdrive. But, also like a first date, a job interview really is a two-way street; you are evaluating them as much as they’re judging you. But because they get the first, if not the last, decision whether or not to move forward, it doesn’t always feel that way.

The best way to avoid finding yourself in the “Please like me!” seat is to manage as much of the unknown as you can. Thankfully there are myriad resources available to prepare you from the first handshake to the last.

To save you time, we’ve created a list of several top job interview resources to prepare you for the most general to the most specific challenges you’ll encounter.

Brush up on general job-interview protocol

The Interview Guys

The Interview Guys, aka Mike Simpson and Jeff Gillis, offer a collection of resources—some online, some print, some free, some for a fee—designed to help job seekers sail through the process before, during and after the interview. While their articles arguably are laid out a bit more chaotically than others, their content is approachable and kept current with a regular blog.

If you’re just looking to get things started, consider browsing their library of animated videos, which offer general tips and overviews of the interview process. When you’re ready for more hands-on preparation, begin with the article Job Interview Questions and Answers 101, which provides a cheat sheet to help you anticipate and prepare answers to common interview questions. Behavioral Interview Questions 101 will give you an in-depth understanding of why managers ask these more complex questions and what they are looking to learn from your responses (along with a template to help you articulate them). Finally, Top 14 Questions to Ask in an Interview offers sample questions and a guide to deciding what’s appropriate for your potential employer.

LiveCareer

The comprehensive job resource site LiveCareer provides similar job interview tips to prepare you for everything from dress codes to negotiation. But because their job-related resources cover more than just interviews, the site can be harder to navigate. Start at the Interviewing Resources section of their Quintessential Careers site. Browse their article that lists The 150 Typical Job Interview Questions and, if you’re feeling ambitious, work your way through their free Job Interviewing Tutorial.

Second, conduct industry-specific research to knock the socks off your interviewers

Career pros will be the first to tell you that simply dressing nicely and responding with pat answers to predictable questions will do nothing to help you stand out from the crowd. For all the lists of typical questions and general etiquette tips, if you don’t tailor your content and comportment to the industry you are pursuing, you’ll leave the employer disappointed.

Google Alerts

Take some time to think about what you’ll be expected to have working knowledge about. Then sign up to receive Google Alerts about specific topics. You’ll receive an email with links whenever related news stories appear.

If you’re going into food service or retail management, for example, consider submitting keywords that will tell you about relevant consumer trends in your region. If your dream job is in human resources, set an alert for employment news in the related industry and region. That way, when they ask about your experience and knowledge of the field, you’ll have current examples to share. Remember: receiving information about the company itself, too, can save you from an embarrassing oversite or gaff.

Bloomberg

While it may sound high-brow for some job interviews, searching Bloomberg for the most up-to-date financial analysis of your industry can do more than impress your would-be boss with lofty statistics. Especially if you’re in a fast-changing industry (think of transportation and Uber, for example) or are yourself an employee outlier, knowing what financial analysts are forecasting about your circumstances will help you impressively ask and answer on-point questions.

Glassdoor

For reviews and insight into your potential employer, perform a quick search on Glassdoor’s Company Review site. Select both “Salaries” and “Interviews” to get an idea of the company culture you’re walking into. (Just remember: reviews come from current and former employees so take whatever you learn in stride.) While you’re there, consider signing into Glassdoor’s Know Your Worth page and you may even be prepared to respond to the dreaded inquiry about your salary expectations.

Good Ol’ Online Identity Research

We hope it goes without saying that a long perusal of the company’s website and social media accounts is essential for showing up prepared. Follow hashtags and trending terms to gain information that can help you answer questions like: “What interests you about this work?” and “What challenges do you perceive / what solutions do you propose to overcome them?” When you can speak to what the company is grappling with and even where their competitors are headed, your interviewers will see you can bring a fresh, informed perspective to their team. While you’re at it, get on Google News and search away.

The point is: people like to talk about themselves and what they know about. When you come across as interested, engaged and informed it is flattering and reassuring.

Finally, psych yourself up to interview like a pro.

Professor Amy Cuddy’s power pose. ’nuf said.

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