Whether you’re interviewing to be a store clerk or a CEO, stress is incredibly common for everyone before, during, and after a job interview. The good thing is that you can mitigate stress through preparation. Preparing answers to common questions, thoroughly researching your potential future company, and learning to maintain mindfulness can all help ensure your interview goes smoothly. Preparation may take a lot of time and effort, but it pays off when you can come off as professional and relaxed during the interview.
Prepare for your upcoming interview by following these essential steps:
Understand That Stress Isn’t a Bad Thing
First, remember that stress is not always a bad thing. If you’re feeling nervous before an interview, this is natural. Everyone gets stressed out about job interviews. Some level of stress implies that you care about the outcome and want to succeed. As long as you manage how much stress affects you, it can help boost your performance and improve your chances of getting hired. This stress that you’re feeling will lead to the preparation required to succeed.
The root of your stress probably stems from you thinking that:
- You will screw up
- You are not smart enough
- They will see right through you
- You are not the best person for the job
- The interview is entirely out of your control
We cannot emphasize enough how wrong these thoughts are. Relax! You are in the interview because the company likes you, and you’re here to demonstrate that you’re qualified for this position and that you are the best person for the job.
Thoroughly Research the Company
Once you’ve grasped the concept of why you’re feeling stressed, it’s time to complete some research on the company. Learn about their history, find out what their mission statement is, and how they define success. If they’re a publicly traded company, read their financial reports.
They are likely to ask you questions about their company during the interview to see how much time and effort you spent preparing and getting to know them. The hiring manager likely spent a good deal of time looking over your resume, portfolio, and LinkedIn profile, so it’s only fair that you do the same.
However, you should dig deeper than simply looking at their website. Find out who their competitors are, read industry-specific news, and look on LinkedIn to find people within your network that might be able to provide additional information on why this is a great company.
Prepare Questions for Them
Researching the company will also give you the opportunity to think of any questions that you may have for them. Hiring managers love to hear thoughtful questions related to their company because it shows a high level of interest in the role and company culture.
When preparing your questions, be mindful that you don’t ask anything too personal or intrusive. Also, try not to ask questions that can easily be answered through their website or LinkedIn.
Questions to NOT Ask
- How many employees work at this company?
- What are the benefits of working here?
- What is your top competitive advantage?
- What can I expect from a typical day in this role?
While these may seem like good follow-up questions, they don’t show a high level of effort on the candidate’s part. Instead, focus on questions that display a greater level of thought and consideration.
Questions to Ask:
- What is one challenge this company faces in the next year?
- How does this position contribute to solving that challenge?
- If hired for this position, what would be my top priority after a month in this role?
- What is the most important skill for someone that wants to be successful in this role?
Research and planning pays off, and it typically gives you an advantage over other candidates. Understanding what they’re looking for will give you a leg up during the interview. When you demonstrate your ability to think critically about their business, it can go a long way.
Prepare Answers to Common Questions
You don’t need to create some overly elaborate answer for every question your interviewer asks, but having some thoughtful responses prepared will make a good impression.
Prepare for typical interview questions such as: “Tell me about yourself,” or, “Where do you see yourself in five years?” Be sure to think about the key points that make you not only qualified for this role but also a great fit with the organizational culture.
You should also be prepared for behavioral-based questions to demonstrate your ability to make successful decisions or solve problems. Prepare answers that are relevant to the role but also show you in a positive light. For example, if they ask, “Tell me about a time when you had to deal with an angry customer,” don’t give them an answer about how someone wanted their order delivered in half the time, and you simply did it.
This is an opportunity for you to talk about how you communicated with the customer, turned them into a raving fan, and increased their satisfaction with your company. It’s not just about being able to do the job well; it’s also about fitting in with the company culture and demonstrating that you can be successful at this job before even getting it.
Plan to be Yourself
This may go without saying, but do not be somebody you are not. Personality is important. They want you to fit in with their team, after all. If you always act like someone else, your true personality may become apparent at some point, and they might not like the sudden shift. Even if they do offer you the job, your insecurity or lack of authenticity will affect your work performance down the road.
Stay Mindful Throughout the Interview
As an interviewee, stress isn’t always a negative thing. It can help you stay focused and on track. Even if the situation becomes stressful or uncomfortable, remember that you are totally in control.
If you get asked an unexpected question, don’t start reeling. Instead, take a deep breath, take a sip of water, and really think about your answer before you say it. They’re not going to think that’s weird. It’s totally normal! The best thing that you can do is show that you care by taking a little extra time to put meaning behind your words.
If you ever get stressed, always come back to your breath.
Don’t Be a Victim of Imposter Syndrome
Imposter syndrome is when you feel like a fake, even though you are perfectly qualified for the role. It can happen to anyone, especially interviewees who are trying really hard to get the job.
Instead of getting sucked into this feeling of not being good enough or feeling intimidated by other candidates, remind yourself of your education, qualifications, certifications, and everything else that gives you a right to be there.
Remember that the company chose to interview you because you really impressed them. So show them why they made the right choice!
Remember, You are Interviewing Them Too
It’s easy to get wrapped up in the stress of an interview because you’re nervous about your performance and potential success. Remember that you are interviewing them just as much as they are interviewing you. You want to be sure that this company is a good fit for YOU. You don’t want to settle, do you?
Take some time before your interview to think about what you value in an organization. After the interview, you should seriously think about whether or not this role is a good fit for you and if the company culture meshes with your values.
Nobody denies that interviews can be tough. We hope that these essential preparation tips can make it a little easier. Stress will happen, but all you can do is prepare and remember that you are in charge.
Also, remember that you don’t have to be perfect. Be okay with making small mistakes or stuttering over your words occasionally. Nobody’s perfect, and if you put in the effort to be your best self during the interview, you’re already ahead of everybody else.
Be yourself, be mindful of how you answer questions, and always come back to the fact that you are here for a reason. You are qualified for this job, so now it’s time to show them why.