No matter whether it’s your first interview or your twentieth, the entire process can be overwhelming and nerve-wracking.
But preparing for a job interview is an easy task when you have LinkedIn on your side. It holds a wealth of information on common interview questions, ideal interview practices, and offers plenty of tips to make sure your application stands out.
Today, we’ll take you through the important steps involved in preparing for a job interview, so you can focus on putting your best foot forward.
The Easy Parts of Preparing for a Job Interview
One of the easiest parts of a job interview is sharing details about yourself. In an interview, you’ll get to share your current and previous work experience, what you’re good at, and share why you’d be a great fit for the position.
This part requires a little preparation but should roll off your tongue quite easily. You’re excited or passionate about the opportunity to undertake this new role, so talking about it will come easy.
Searching for the perfect role and preparing for a job interview is made even easier with LinkedIn.
LinkedIn is an online platform used by professionals all over the world. It’s designed to connect you with other professionals, potential employers, and keep you up to date with industry-specific knowledge. You can create an online portfolio of your greatest work achievements, market yourself to future employers, and build professional relationships within your network.
It also comes in handy for interview preparation. LinkedIn has a robust knowledge base filled with resume templates, job application tips, and interview preparation advice.
The Difficult Parts of Preparing for a Job Interview
The thing that most people struggle with is nervousness. There is a lot of pressure riding on an interview, and it’s easy to let the nerves overwhelm you. This can leave you feeling rattled and have you forgetting important details when answering the interviewer’s questions.
Many people also struggle with answering questions that they haven’t prepared an answer for. Thinking on the spot for a question that comes out of left-field is quite challenging, and may make you feel even more overwhelmed.
Finally, when it comes to talking about yourself, there is a fine line between humbly explaining your experience and achievements, and bragging about them.
These parts of an interview don’t have to be difficult. When you take the time to prepare answers to typical interview questions and equip yourself with plenty of practice, you can easily overcome these issues to nail your interview.
Step 1: Prepare Your Portfolio
Landing the job of your dreams is not as simple as crafting a great job application and nailing the interview. In today’s competitive job market, you also need to make sure your online resume is up-to-date too.
Create a LinkedIn Account
If you don’t already have a LinkedIn account, it’s time to make one.
LinkedIn is an online platform that connects professionals all over the world. You can use it to find the right job, connect with colleagues or future employers, and strengthen professional relationships. You can even learn the skills you need to succeed in your career.
A LinkedIn account is considered an online resume and can even replace your CV in some job applications.
Update Your LinkedIn Profile
Once your account is up and running, or you already have an account, it’s time to update your profile.
Keeping your profile up to date with tons of useful and relevant information is vital to correctly leveraging LinkedIn to land your dream job. Start by choosing an appropriate profile picture, and including information such as employment history, recent experience, current skills and objectives, and career goals.
Be as comprehensive as possible as this will allow you to cast a wider net when it comes to reeling in your next job offer.
Update Your Headline
LinkedIn is SEO-friendly, just like Google. When you appear in a search, only your photo, name, and headline, will appear for the searcher to see.
So when you choose your headline, it needs to reflect the job you are hoping to land, with a little personality to grab attention.
For example, if you want to be an HR manager, an effective headline could say, “HR professional connecting employees with organizations,” as opposed to a more generic one like “Human resource officer in the financial sector.”
If you’re openly seeking a new role, you can communicate this in your headline. For example, it could read, “Writer seeking businesses in need of copywriting that will convert.”
Whatever the goal of your headline, make sure it is clear and attention-grabbing.
Taking the time to keep your LinkedIn profile updated regularly means that employers will have an easier time finding you. Having this online portfolio in place also provides interviewers an opportunity to get to know you a little before inviting you in for an interview.
Step 2: Submitting Your Job Application
Now that you’ve created a killer online portfolio and found the job of your dreams to apply for, it’s time to submit your job application. Whether you found the job advertisement on LinkedIn or not, it’s always a good idea to do a quick search to see if the company has listed it on LinkedIn too.
Applying through LinkedIn allows you to see approximately how many applications have been submitted so far. It also lets the interviewer see your newly polished LinkedIn profile alongside your resume.
Review the Job Description
Reviewing the job description helps you to focus on the role you are applying for and its requirements. It allows you to compare similar positions side-by-side, and also to tailor your resume and application to the job.
Take note of the key requirements of the role. You’ll need to revisit these when it comes time to prepare for the interview.
Adjust Your Resume
If you’re using the same cookie-cutter resume for every single job you apply for, you’re doing yourself a disservice. Consider how many applicants the recruiter will be sifting through. If your resume doesn’t grab the attention of the employer right away, you’re likely to end up in the pass pile.
When it comes to high-level positions, tailoring your resume to highlight your areas of expertise relevant to the role is vital to your success.
Furthermore, taking the time to adjust the wording of your resume to match the job description shows employers just how easily you’ll fit into the role.
Submitting your job application is just as important as nailing the interview. Flawlessly handling the interview may get you the job, but submitting a well-thought, tailored application is what will get you that interview in the first place.
Step 3: Preparing for the Interview
Successfully handling an interview is all in the preparation. Of course, there will be some questions that you can’t possibly prepare for. But if you’ve studied the job description, studied the company, and clearly understand what it does, you’ll set yourself up for success.
Do Your Homework
This step is about getting to know the company inside out. Spend time thoroughly researching what it does, how it’s perceived by others, and even, what kind of perks it offers employees. One of the questions within the interview process will likely relate to what the company does.
It’s also a good idea to investigate employee satisfaction levels, and how they compare to competitors in the market. This is not to question the interviewer on the day of your interview as to why some employees were unhappy. It’s just to give you a solid understanding of how things operate at the company you’re interested in working for.
If the company is registered with LinkedIn, you’ll be able to find all this information there, otherwise, a Google search will suffice.
Preparing Your Answers
One of the most important things you should do before your interview is to prepare your answers to typical interview questions.
LinkedIn has an excellent knowledge base filled with tons of common questions and tips on how to answer them. You’ll even have access to sample answers from industry experts to help you craft the perfect answer. Furthermore, LinkedIn allows you to take your answers to the next level with instant AI-powered feedback on your practice answers.
Here is where you will also revisit the job description to look for any hints on job-specific questions the interviewer may ask. Take some time to think about how your current skills can correlate to the role, and craft an answer outlining why you want the role.
Preparing your thoughts around these topics will better prepare you to answer the questions during the interview without feeling flustered.
Preparing Your Questions
All good interviewers will allow time for you to ask questions of them towards the end of the interview. While you don’t need to ask questions, it’s a great way to show your keen interest in the role.
Some questions you might like to ask include why the position is open, how many people are on the team, when they expect to complete the hiring process, and what the anticipated start date is.
Plan Your Journey to the Interview
Mapping out the location of the interview and planning how you’ll get there is not something you should leave until the morning of the interview. Especially if you’re not familiar with the area.
Instead, make sure you explore multiple routes you can use to get to the interview location. If you’re traveling via public transport, where is the closest stop? And if you’re driving, map out the closest parking.
Taking the time to plan and prepare will ensure you’re much more comfortable come interview day. The more comfortable and in control that you are, the better you can expect to perform where it counts.
Step 4: Nailing the Interview
If you’ve followed the above steps to a tee, when interview day arrives, you’ll be prepared to successfully navigate the interview. To ensure you make a lasting impression on the interviewer, keep these further pointers in mind.
Allowing yourself plenty of time to find the interview location and settle in before your interview starts is essential. If you need time to use the restroom, have a glass of water, or collect your thoughts, it’s ideal to leave at least 15 minutes up your sleeve.
If you’re worried about getting lost along your way, the more time you have the better. You can always find a coffee shop to wait out the excess time in.
Be Nice to Everyone You Come Across
Although your interview doesn’t start until you’re invited in by the interviewer, you should maintain your composure and be nice to everyone you come across up until that time.
This includes people you meet on your commute to the interview, your walk from the bus stop to the interview location, anyone in the lobby or lift, the receptionist, and anyone you come across walking through an open-plan office.
You never know who you are going to meet in that timeframe. The best way to kill an interview is to have unknowingly snapped at the interviewer getting off the train because you were nervous or running late.
Focus on Body Language
Greeting the interviewer with good eye contact and a firm handshake is going to immediately signal your confidence to the interviewer, even if you’re not feeling it! When you receive a firm handshake back, you’ll find your nerves dissipate nicely and you’re ready to take on the interview.
Throughout the interview, it’s important to maintain eye contact, sit up straight, and avoid fidgeting as much as possible. These body language cues will let the interviewer know that you’re serious about the position and confident in your ability to be there.
Take Your Time
Don’t forget that the interviewer wants you to succeed just as much as you do. After all, they are looking for a top-notch candidate. If you rush through your answers and stumble over your words, you will appear unprofessional and unprepared.
Instead, follow the interviewer’s lead. Mirror their tone and tempo, and take your time answering questions. But most importantly of all, let your personality shine through.
Step 5: Interview Follow Up
You’ve completed the interview and hopefully, you made a great impression. The interviewer likely told you what the next steps were and when to expect to hear from them, but that doesn’t mean that you can’t leave your final impression.
Thank You Email
An interview follow-up thank you email or letter is an important part of the process. It could even be the thing that seals the deal!
An interview thank you email should be succinct, courteous, and personal.
Aside from thanking the interviewer for their time, highlight a specific detail that you gleaned from the interview. If there was a specific moment in the interview that made you excited to land the role, mention it!
You can also politely and positively reiterate your suitability for the role, and state your availability to meet again should the interviewer have further questions for you.
Send the interview follow-up email within 24 to 48 hours of the interview. Any later than this could leave you looking lazy or disinterested.