This post is all about 7 insanely helpful job interview preparation tips.
Are you looking for the best job interview preparation tips? Then you’re in the right spot!
I went through 34 interviews to get my most recent job as a data analyst (that I LOVE!) and here are all of the absolute best and UNIQUE job interview preparation tips that I learned through that process.
I wish I knew all of these interview tips before starting my job search because they would’ve saved me a lot of frustration, questioning, and time.
These job interview preparation tips will help you land your dream job. Let’s dive in!
7 Job Interview Preparation Tips
1. Honesty Will Save You Time
During my interview process, I had a few interviews where the more the conversation went on, the more I realized I did not want to work for that company.
For example, I realized after a telephone interview with one company that I wasn’t interested in the company’s industry specifically – which happened to be the industry I was in at my current job.
Even though I knew I wanted to get out of my current industry, I applied to positions in it because my resume was aligned with the job description (of course) and I felt that I would have a good chance at finding a job.
I figured I may as well see what opportunities were out there.
Well, as soon as I did get an interview in my same industry, I grew more and more disinterested as my interviews went on.
The interviewers would talk about my potential job responsibilities and why the job was important, and I would nod my head while thinking “oh no, this is not what I want”.
When these thoughts grew too loud to avoid, I spoke up. With gratitude and respect, I let the company know that I was no longer interested. They were gracious in their understanding and that was that.
I used to not speak up even though I knew a job wasn’t a good fit. I would keep going through the interview process with companies I wasn’t interested in so that I could avoid any “I don’t believe this is a good fit” conversations and because I was worried I’d come off rude or ungrateful.
But really, speaking up and being honest was the most helpful thing I could do for these companies and for myself.
So long as you are polite, people will greatly appreciate your honesty.
It is much better to tell a recruiter/interviewer as soon as you know you’re not interested, instead of going through the whole interview process, spending time and energy, just to get to the end and say “no thank you” anyway.
Recruiters are seeking legitimate candidates. You should speak up if you aren’t interested.
2. Rejection Is Normal
I interviewed for 14 companies and 50% of them rejected me.
However, I didn’t let the outcome of one interview process — or 7 — stop me. I kept going. I knew there was a great opportunity out there for me, so I imagined that I was simply sifting through all these companies before finding the right fit.
The rejection really hurt at times. And it definitely messed with my confidence a bit. But deep down, I firmly believed that any company would be lucky to have me, so I kept going.
And eventually, my resilience paid off.
If you do get rejected and your confidence is a little bruised, I hope you don’t take it to heart. There are so many companies in this world that would be so happy to have you work for them, that you can’t let one — or 7 — determine how you feel about yourself.
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3. Rejection Can Be Unexpected
It’s one thing to get rejected by a company that you aren’t even really interested in. It’s a whole other thing to get rejected by a company that you really hoped would be the one.
If you think you nailed the interview, you probably did. If you think you vibed with your interviewer(s), you probably did. But sometimes, unfortunately, that’s just not enough.
Maybe they are looking for someone with a more specific background. Maybe they’ll even tell you that they think you are “such a good person” but they’re looking for someone with a bit more experience (true story).
There are countless reasons why you might not make it to the next round of the process. No matter the reason, you just have to trust that there is a better fit for you out there.
4. Affirmations Can Boost Your Confidence Before Your Interview
Affirmations are statements about yourself, in the present tense, that can serve as little reminders of how truly awesome you are.
I held tightly to this affirmation during my interview process: “Whatever’s meant for me will not pass me by”.
It made me feel like even when I SURE that a company was a great fit but it didn’t work out, that there was a better opportunity for me on the way.
When you need a boost of confidence, try saying affirmations before your interviews and throughout your interview processes.
Here are some examples of affirmations that you can use from Stomp The Pavement:
- My experiences have prepared me for success.
- I am capable of answering questions thoughtfully, deserving of the opportunities I’ve received, and excited to have a meaningful conversation.
- My career will continue to evolve and change, as will my goals. This interview is just a step on my path. I will continue to have opportunities for success.
Take a deep breath and repeat these affirmations over and over until you remember who you are.
5. Let The Recruiter Do Their Job
As a data analyst, a few of the companies I interviewed with had me solve data analysis problems. Sometimes, I had to solve these problems as part of timed, take-home tests and projects, and other times, I had to execute on data problems in real-time in front of my interviewers.
In one zoom interview, I was asked to solve a problem on the spot. Not only could I not solve the problem, but during my struggle, my video camera stopped working.
I thought to myself, I am failing miserably, and my video going off makes me look disorganized and ill-prepared. Despite this, I maintained confident body language and eye contact.
I apologized for my technical difficulties and continued to try to solve the problem with the interviewer – but I never solved it.
The interview ended and I was pretty embarrassed and upset. I really liked this company, but I felt like I blew it. I sent a “thank you” email, assuming I’d never hear from that company again.
Until I did. I was offered a next-round interview by the hiring manager that very next day despite not being able to solve the data problem and despite my video going off mid-way through the interview.
For another company, I was assigned a take-home test as part of my interviews. I had a few hours to complete various coding questions that ranged in difficulty from beginner to advanced.
I ended up being able to accurately complete over 50% of the test. There were maybe 7 questions and I was able to code for 4 of them.
I was super bummed because based on my performance, I scored 4/7 and 4/7 came out to 57%, so I failed. Again, I thought I’d be out of the running for this job opportunity.
And then I got a call from my recruiter who told me that they were pleased with my performance. I was told that 4/7 was a sufficient score according to their grading scale.
Here I was thinking I was a huge failure, and instead I was told I did perfectly fine and was moved on to the next round of the interview process.
This just goes to show that you never really know what can happen, or what the interviewer(s) are looking for. You just need to show up, do the best you can, and then let them decide if you’ll move on to the next round of interviews or not.
6. Pay Attention To How YOU Feel During The Interview
I went through the interview process at one company and loved each interview – until I got to the final one with the CEO.
I spent hours and hours studying for this interview. The CEO was also the founder, so I made sure to read through the company website, go through the CEO’s LinkedIn, watch his YouTube videos and listen to his podcasts.
I felt very prepared. After all, it was the final interview! I had made it. And based on what I had read about him, I felt our values aligned and that the interview and conversation was sure to be great.
Unfortunately, that wasn’t the case. Firstly, the interview started 10 minutes late because he was running behind.
I tend to give people the benefit of the doubt in these cases (I’m sure CEOs are busy people) but I was a little disappointed at his lack of apology when he finally did join the call.
As the interview got going, I couldn’t help but feeling as though he was ill-prepared and rushed. He would look at my resume, ask me a question from it and when I would reply he would say something along the lines of “ok” and move on to the next question. We didn’t have much conversation, or even small talk, at all.
Because the interview started late, I wasn’t given time to ask the questions I’d prepared for him. These were deal-breaker questions for me – things that I really wanted to ask because their answers would influence whether I accepted the position if I were to be offered it.
At the end of the interview, the CEO told me that he had to get to another commitment when our time was up but that I could still ask questions if I wanted.
I could tell he was saying this to be polite – it was clear I would inconvenience him if I did take him up on that offer. I said something along the lines of “no worries!” and the interview ended.
Later that day, I got a job offer. Throughout the negotiation process, I seriously considered accepting it. But I just couldn’t shake how I felt during and after my interview with the CEO.
Maybe this is a personal preference, but I simply did not feel like the CEO really cared whether or not I joined the company. And thinking about working for a company where the CEO acted this way gave me pause.
I was ready to leave my current company, but was this the best opportunity I could find? Was I going to settle for a company and a CEO that I didn’t feel great about, just because I am ready for change?
As hard as it was, I declined the offer, and kept looking for a new job.
7. The Right Company Will Feel Right
I don’t think any company is perfect, but I do think that when you find a good fit, you will know.
For the company I ultimately ended up getting an offer with and accepting, I remember feeling very pleased with the interview process.
For one, the interview process was relatively quick. No 1.5 week gap in between each interview. No 5-hour long data analysis project that I would have to turn into a PowerPoint presentation.
The people were nice and genuine. There was good conversation and I was able to ask all of my questions. People were on time. I never felt rushed or uncomfortable.
I left every interview thinking “that went really well”. I felt a sense of ease.
This made accepting the offer a breeze. I wasn’t polling my friends and family, asking them for their advice on whether I should accept the job or not (a sign that deep down I know it’s not the right move for me). Instead, I just knew.
Having 34 interviews over the span of a few months was not easy. Balancing a full-time job and trying to schedule interviews throughout it was very stressful.
Sometimes I look back on this time and think “was 34 interviews really necessary?” or “was there a way I could’ve cut down on this?” but for whatever reason, this was my journey, and I’m glad I get to write about it and share it with you.
I hope that my experience helps you in some way. If you take nothing else from this post, take this: unless you absolutely must for personal reasons, I hope you don’t settle.
As hard as it can be to turn down a one-way ticket out of a job you dislike, settling for a job you’re on the fence about will likely only bring you right back to where you are today.
Don’t settle. Keep going until you find the right fit. You deserve it.
8. Bonus Job Interview Preparation Tips
- If you’re nervous about your upcoming interview, ask a friend or family member to do a mock interview with you. Have them ask you some of the most common interview questions out there (you can find these with a quick Google search!) so you can practice answering questions on the fly, and get some practice talking about your work history.
- Make sure your interview outfit is appropriate. For instance, if you’re interviewing for a Tech role, you can usually dress a little more laid back. You want to make a good first impression regardless, so make sure you look polished and put together.
- Bring a list of questions that you have to your interview. You can ask about all sorts of things like the company culture, the job requirements, the company’s hiring process, their dress code, what the next step will be (once your interview is over), etc.
- Bring a positive attitude 🙂 People want to work with people who are a breath of fresh air, not someone who puts a damper on things or is difficult to work with.
- If your interview is in person, bring a few copies of your resume, just in case your interviewers need an extra copy. If your interview is virtual, be prepared to send them your resume quickly if they ask for it on the fly.
- If you are expecting to have a few video interviews back to back, have a glass of water nearby. This way, if you ever need a quick sip after talking for a while, you’ll be prepared.
- Be prepared to give a quick overview of your work experience, and even your career goals. You always want to have something in your back pocket just in case your interviewers ask you about yourself.
- In your interview, be sure to answer questions with confidence. You are so deserving of a GREAT role – don’t forget that!
- If you are asked a difficult question in your interview and you aren’t sure how you want to answer it, you can buy yourself some time by saying something in response like, “That’s a really great question. Let me think on that for a second.” If you need some extra time to answer a question, don’t be afraid to use tactics to create time for yourself to think about your answer.
- When interviewing, don’t forget that while you are being interviewed, YOU are also interviewing that company to see if you really want to work there. Be on the lookout for things that would make you and this company a good match, and don’t brush away any red flags too quickly, either.
This post was all about Job Interview Preparation Tips.
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