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How to Prepare for a Job Interview

by Contributor

Preparing for a job interview is simple, but not easy. You have to get the basics right and show that you are knowledgeable and sincere. But conveying your skills and talents in half an hour to a person you have never met is not easy task, unless you are well prepared. Here are a few points that you should keep in mind while preparing for a job interview.

Preparing for a Job Interview

1. Be ready with your elevator pitch: Your elevator pitch is a brief description about you that gives the interviewer an overview of your experience, skills and interests in about a minute or so.

A lot of interviews start with the standard – “tell us a little bit about you.” Be prepared with a short summary of yourself peppered with words that will be of interest to your prospective employer. So, if you know that you are interviewing for a position in which your primary responsibility will be handling a team, your elevator pitch should have parts of your work experience in which you handled large cross functional teams or similar activities.

2. Practice, but not too much: Hold mock interviews with your relatives and friends. Practice makes perfect – to a point. You don’t want to rattle off answers like a robot. Think of it more like talking points, and not a memorized speech.

You also want to limit yourself to serious interviews only. I have seen some people attend each interview they get called for, even if they don’t want to take the job. I personally don’t think this is the right thing to do. This may be fine at junior levels, but after a certain point, the positions are scarce and if you give an interview, are hired and then refuse the job – you slim your chances for the future. And I wouldn’t like it if I went to an interview and found out that the panel was only practicing their skills and were not serious about hiring me.

3. Talk to people who work there: I have a friend who used to work in the Finance sector and everyone was comfortable working on a first name basis. He wanted to switch jobs and interviewed with a steel company. This company was very hierarchical in nature and his prospective bosses didn’t like the fact that he called them by their first names and didn’t refer to them as “sir.”

If you know someone who works in the company, talk to them and find out about the culture of the company. You may find it is not compatible with your preferred working environment.

4. Know the industry: Almost everyone reads up about the company they are interviewing for and memorizes a few facts. But, if you are not genuinely interested in keeping abreast the latest industry trends, those facts don’t give you any perspective at all.

Once, my friend interviewed for an advertising agency and they asked him if he knew how big the firm was. He was beaming because he knew how big the firm was – both in terms of sales and employees.

Next they asked him if that made the firm — big, medium or small for that industry. He had no clue. He had memorized a few facts about the company but didn’t really know much about the sector as a whole. Luckily he got the job, because the other guys didn’t even bother to memorize the facts. You may not be as lucky, so get an idea about the latest in the industry.

5. Prepare for questions: Read your resume carefully and look at the parts that are most interesting. Try to think of questions that are triggered by your resume and prepare answers for those parts. Ask a friend to help if you are not able to think of questions yourself. I have seen that some questions keep coming up in every interview I attend. Some parts of my resume are structured more prominently than others and often trigger the same questions.

6. Ask Questions: One of the most useful questions to ask interviewers is – “what would my typical day look like?” If you get a chance, ask this question, this makes the interviewer think about someone who is already performing that role and explain to you in detail what is expected out of you.

I am a big fan of this question because a few years ago I applied for the position of an analyst with a company, but when the role was described to me, it involved a few hours of cold calling every day. Turns out the company expected all their analysts to make sales calls as well. That was something that wasn’t advertised and I was really surprised to find that out.

These were some things that helped me during my interviews and I’d love to hear what your interview tricks are.

This guest post is courtesy of Manshu Verma from OneMint, a website with the vision of “creating wealth for everyone.” If you liked this article and wish to read more about the economy, stocks, investing, credit cards or other topics on personal finance, please consider subscribing to his website.


Published or updated February 15, 2012.
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{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Craig

The bottom line is to be prepared for an interview. Do your research, make sure your resume is up to date and relevant, make sure your online channels are set appropriately and branded.

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2 Manshu

Thanks for letting the post feature on your site Ryan!

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3 RB @ RichBy30RetireBy40

Please do everything possible to click the company’s website and understand several of the challenges and opportunities the company faces at this very moment.

Interviewers are always amazed when you discuss their company fluidly. It makes it seem as if the candidate has always been there.

Humility is also key.

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4 DDFD at DivorcedDadFrugalDad

Solid tips! Especially these days.

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