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Published on January 3, 2019

23 Essential Things to Keep in Mind When Preparing for an Interview

23 Essential Things to Keep in Mind When Preparing for an Interview

Pre-interview jitters is real. If not managed, the anxiety, the lack of sleep, and even personality changes before a big event like an interview can negatively impact your interview performance.

This post contains very practical tips on how to manage interview anxiety and deal with imposter syndrome so that you can deliver an amazing interview performance.

In no particular order, here are 23 essential things to keep in mind when preparing for an interview.

1. Keep a master list of everything you were responsible for at your previous position

Sometimes you want to prove to your interviewer that you are well-rounded and have been responsible for tasks beyond your pay grade. The good news is that you can do that.

The simplest way is for you to maintain a list of all the important duties you were responsible for at previous jobs. While you can do a general copy and paste of your job description, an actual list of the tasks you completed––which aren’t in the job description, will give your interviewers a better understanding of how your skills can be utilized.

2 Update your knowledge of the company’s history and background

The easiest way to look silly before an interviewer is to lack an understanding of what the company does and its current challenges.

For example, while a company might advertise itself as a food processing plant, it is a better idea to know exactly what types of foods are being processed and if you can stand being in such an environment.

3. Know industry-specific questions

It’s not enough to be competent at answering common interview questions. Depending on your role and position, you may be required to display more technical or analytical skills than design skills.

The offer may depend on strong writing and communication skills than public speaking skills. It is your responsibilities to know what questions to expect and prepare adequately for them.

4. Remember who you worked for and when

It’s common for interviewers to reference a previous position on your resume. What you don’t want to do is appear ignorant because you do not remember working for your previous employer.

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If you have worked in multiple positions, be aware of where you held these positions and what your responsibilities were.

5. Do not rehash your resume

While it’s important to know your resume inside out, you do not have to memorize your resume from bullet point to bullet point. It’s sloppy work and makes you seem lazy and unprepared.

6 Pay attention to your digital footprint

Although you have nabbed an interview with your desired organization, it’s not over yet. Depending on the structure and sensitivity of the position you’re interviewing for, some companies will take to the internet to get more knowledge of your social activities online.

While this isn’t a call to change your life, it helps to be mindful of how your converse online and scrub questionable material that might make getting a job very challenging.

7. Research the address of the interview location

Arriving late to your interview location because you got lost or are stuck in traffic is hardly a valid excuse. It is your responsibility to plan your route prior to the day of the interview and add in time buffers in case of emergencies.

An extra 45-60 minute buffer can mitigate unforeseen events like traffic accidents, weather conditions, and other things that might derail your plans for showing up early.

8. If it’s virtual, make sure you have the necessary software

Interviews have gone virtual these days and that’s great. What’s not great is discovering that your computer doesn’t have the necessary tools needed for the interview to run smoothly.

Examples of things you need to inspect include your microphone and pending software updates. It is not a good surprise to have your computer shut down on you to install software updates while you’re in the middle of a conversation.

Other things you want to be aware of is the need for a quieter space, better lighting, or the need to purchase additional equipment to make your interview stand out.

9. Research the position you are interviewing for

It’s not enough to want to accept an offer. You have to know what will be required of you in your new role.

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Some questions you need to answer for yourself before the interview include:

  • Will I be performing the same duties I performed at my old role?
  • Is the job title a true reflection of the responsibilities I’ll hold?
  • Will this role require some investment in personal development?
  • What is the career path for someone in this role?

10. Prepare to ask your interviewer pertinent questions

You have come a long way already. But to make sure you’re prepared to immerse yourself into this role should you receive an offer, be prepared to ask questions related to the role, the company culture, or expectations from an ideal candidate.

Questions give you tremendous insight into what the company expects from you. With the answers, you have the choice to either move forward with your application or decline an offer should you be presented with one.

Other questions to ask include why the role is unfilled, the typical progression or career path of someone in that role, and what support the company provides employees to make sure they remain a great asset.

11. Prepare the appropriate outfit

While you’re getting ready to ace your interview questions, be mindful about the company’s dress code.

Yes, you will be judged based on your appearance, and because first impressions do matter, it is essential to figure this out way before the night of your interview.

Other helpful things to note include personal grooming, minimizing perfume, and policies on body jewelry.

12. Practice answering interview questions with someone else

Do practice answering your interview questions with someone else. You can never have too much practice. It’s not a matter of personality types; organizations need to know that you can articulately communicate your ideas on the spot.

Practicing with someone else can also reveal some nervous tics that you’re not aware of like speaking too fast, using filler words, or rubbing or hands together. Not only is it embarrassing to ramble your way through question, lack of preparation can create a false impression of how skilled you truly are.

13. Have a few anecdotes ready behavioral questions like “tell me about a time when…”

Anticipating behavioral questions isn’t enough. You need to have anecdotes ready to share when you’re faced with questions of this nature. A helpful technique is the STAR method:

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  • S stands for situation. What is the background or nature of the problem you encountered?
  • T stands for task. What was required of you to mitigate the problem?
  • A stands for action. What did you do in that situation?
  • R stands for result. What was the outcome of your action?

With this technique, instead of mentioning how adaptable you are in various situations, you’re providing more depth with your answers with some factual experience.

14. Check in with your references

You may or may not have been asked to provide a list of references prior to your interview. However, it pays to notify your references that you have been selected to move forward in your hiring process.

This prompts your references to complete any forms sitting idly in their email inbox or alerts them to look forward to receiving an email from the company soon.

15. Print more copies of your resume

Ever been to an interview only to discover you had to meet several other hiring managers who have zero copies of your resume? This is your chance to prepare for uncertainties.

You might find yourself in company of other decision makers and there’s no better way to communicate your readiness than you give them a document to start their assessment with.

16. Prepare a portfolio of your past projects

It is perfectly okay to bring folders of your previous projects to the interview as long as they help your cause.

Examples of things you can bring to your interview include art designs, content samples, photography pieces, and other samples you can reasonably fit into a portable folder.

17. Hire a career coach

It’s okay to say you can’t do this by yourself. It doesn’t make you look weak. Rather, it takes a great deal of self-awareness to identify your weaknesses so that you can improve your interview performance.

18. Make a list of accomplishments you’re proud of

It helps to be able to talk about your proudest moments, but sometimes we falter when we’re asked. Maybe it’s because we’re trying to seem modest, but this comes across as lack of preparation.

With a handy list of your accomplishments, you sound confident which creates better impression of what you’re capable of to your interviewers.

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19. Identify weaknesses in your job history and prepare to address them

Maybe you’ve had a job gap that sticks out in your resume. You are probably going to be asked why, and although you need to be honest, you also need to know how to phrase your response so you’re seen as a responsible applicant.

20. The marketplace is solution-driven

It doesn’t matter how many degrees you have or are currently working on. What matters is how you fit in with the organization’s goal and desires.

Make a list of how your skills can directly affect the results or improve working processes.

21. The length of the interview

Some interviews can take anywhere from forty-five minutes to six hours. If your interview will last more than two hours, it is your job to make sure you’re adequately prepared to survive the day.

Make preparations for a lunch break if the company isn’t providing one. Bring your medication with you if you have any chronic condition that could flare up if neglected.

22. Print a checklist of all these reminders

Bringing back the old-fashioned checklist is a creative way to improve your memory. Sometimes, it is better to have a physical list of reminders so that you know exactly tasks to complete, when, and how much time you need to spend doing them.

23. Indulge in self care

There’s no point in getting all these done only to mess up because you’re anxious or not well-rested.

Preparing for interviews can be very exhausting, physically and mentally. Get your hair done. Invest in a body massage. Watch movies and relax with your friends or family members. Meditate or complete some journaling exercises.

The Bottom Line

It is normal to feel nervous before a big interview. What matters more is acknowledging how you feel, preparing yourself for success, and putting your best foot forward so that you are seen as an ideal candidate.

More Resources to Get Prepared for an Interview

Featured photo credit: Nik MacMillan via unsplash.com

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Margaret Olatunbosun

Creative coach who teaches high-achievers how to thrive at the intersection of creativity, passion, and profit.

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Last Updated on November 11, 2019

How to Find Your Keystone Habits to Change Your Life

How to Find Your Keystone Habits to Change Your Life

When a young CEO stepped in at the helm of a dying giant, his first task was to figure out what needed to be done to save the company. After he spent some time researching the company and the market situation, he came up with a simple plan which he introduced to the shareholders in his first speech as the CEO.

He spoke just about one single thing–safety. Everyone in the room thought he was crazy and some people jumped the soon-to-be-dead ship.

15 years later, he not salvaged the giant, but made it one of the strongest steel and metal companies in the world and made a global name of himself.

The company is Alcoa and the guy was Paul O’Neill.

But the story matters to us for one thing only and that is the relentless focus he had on safety and security in his company. Paul O’Neill said that his employees deserve to leave work the same way they arrived at it–unharmed.

And it was this radical focus on a single habit in the company that made it great. A single focus on a single habit which had a massive ripple effect.

This is known as a keystone habit.

The Importance of a Keystone Habit

A keystone habit is a habit which has the biggest ripple effect in your life which means that by implementing it, you will radically change everything in your life.

It’s quite easy to spot the keystone habits which make your life miserable.

Take overeating as an example. If you weigh 400 pounds, you’re bedridden and your physical health massively declines. You can’t function individually so you need help to even do the basic things like going to the toilet or walking up the stairs. Since you can’t move, you can’t go to your job so you probably lose it. And since you can’t move, you can’t go out and meet someone so your dating and social life decline as well. And as a formerly overweight person, I know how this sucks.

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This is just one example of how a keystone habit creates a ripple effect which creates change in every sphere of our lives. So we better open our eyes and make sure that we use the power of the keystone habits for bettering our life.

Why Less Is More

A keystone habit is about one thing and, the one thing only which you do to radically improve your life. And a lot of people would, at this point, ask what are the best keystone habits to implement in their lives.

And here is the big truth: Nobody knows and nobody can tell you exactly.

Everyone is specific and has different things going on for them in their lives, so claiming something is always superior to something else would simply be irresponsible.

So even though I can’t tell you what to see, I can tell you where to look.

Every keystone habit can be situated into one of the following four quadrants:

It’s either a physical habit, intellectual habit, emotional habit or a spiritual habit.

Any keystone habit I ever encountered which changed the life of someone falls under these 4 categories.

And the trick is recognizing what kind of habit right would benefit your life the best at this moment. Asking what the best keystone habit has the same effect as asking what the best book in the world is– it depends on who you ask and what your current life situation is.

If you’re struggling with the meaning of life and want to find hope in this crazy world we live in, I would point you to a great book which recently came out called Everything is F*cked by Mark Mason. If you were a struggling parent of a 10-year old kid who just found out the perils of the internet, I would point you to a security app.

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You get the point…

But just because everything is relative, it doesn’t mean that some things aren’t better than other things. War and Peace will always be a great book no matter if it currently befits you to read it. And the same thing can be applied to keystone habits so let’s see what kind of keystone habits fall into the great category.

Great Keystone Habits

I have already mentioned how all keystone habits fall into one of the four categories: physical, intellectual, emotional, and spiritual. So the following keystone habits will fall into one (or more) of these buckets.

But before we proceed into the habits, know this.

What got you here, won’t get you there.

So if you already have a keystone habit which you implemented for quite a while now and you think it’s no longer working, you are probably right. We need certain things at certain times of development, but we need to let them go later on to grow to new levels. So use the habits to better your life, but don’t worship any one of them for your entire life.

Physical Domain

When it comes to great keystone habits in the physical domain, they all fall into two buckets:

  • Exercise
  • Food

These two are the pinnacle of the physical domain when it comes to keystone habits. I don’t even have to tell you all the ways exercise helps you in your life.

From better hormonal regulation, to energy levels, to looking better, to feeling more confident, to increasing your lifespan and the quality of your life, a keystone habit of exercising is one whose effects you will feel fast.

When it comes to food, it’s literally the building block of your life’s energy. If you eat garbage, you will feel like garbage–garbage in, garbage out. And your energy levels are one of the most important factors you need to regulate in your life if you want to achieve anything.

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None of your dreams will ever come true if you eat a massive bag of chips every single day, which makes you drowsy and lifeless no matter how much ambition you have.

But the physical domain is just one of the four domains so let’s jump to the next one.

Intellectual Domain

There are many great intellectual keystone habits we can pursue, but I will just name a couple of them which most of you who read the article will find relevant:

  • Reading Books
  • Writing (columns, articles, personal blog or diary)
  • Learning new languages
  • Learning a new skill set (copywriting, coaching, cooking…)
  • Teaching your skillset or your life experiences

All of these have their own benefits and can massively improve your life and the life of people around you. When you, for example, learn a new language, you don’t just learn a new language, you learn a completely new way of thinking and form unique connections in your mind.

But we don’t stop here, we have two more domains to cover.

Emotional Domain

This is a difficult one because, for one, it’s really hard to measure it in any quantitive way. You can’t just call your wife every single day and think that by doing just that, you are a good husband. It doesn’t work like that.

I wrote about the problems of measuring emotional habits before and I won’t go in-depth about it here, but I will just mention that measuring these kinds of habits requires your and yours only subjective analyses. It’s like giving yourself a daily score of 1-10 on the question of “Did I do my best to be a great husband today?”

The keystone habits of the emotional domain are one of the most complex and difficult ones to pull off because they require most people to change things they do in relation to other people.

If you want to be more sincere and honest in your emotional responses, that means that you will have to make some people angry by doing that. It can be a difficult conversation you need to have with your spouse or with your friends, maybe a disagreement with your peers and colleagues, or a deep look within yourself with an honest look about your actions and mistakes.

Emotional domain keystone habits improve your life in any stage, but since they make us do uncomfortable things, they are the last ones we pursue.

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Some of the examples would be:

  • Telling yourself that you are the only one who is responsible for your emotions and keeping that standard
  • Calling out passive-aggressive in people
  • Speaking your mind even though you know it will bring disagreement
  • Dealing with your own problems first before pointing fingers
  • Asking for feedback constantly, both positive and negative ones
  • Deciding to be vulnerable even though it means risking being hurt

The things I wrote above are probably the most difficult things you can ask someone to do, but they are also the most rewarding things you can do in your life. If you want to achieve greatness, you need to be willing to dare greatly.

And last, but not least, are the keystone habits of the spiritual domain.

Spiritual Domain

The keystone habits of the spiritual domain are our connection with things which in our lives that have a higher purpose than just ourselves. This is the place where feel the connection with our communities, with Higher Beings, with God or Emptiness or whatever you want to call it.

The spiritual domain is the strongest as a guiding force in life and some of the keystone habits of this domain include:

  • Finding your life’s purpose
  • Living your vision of life
  • Sacrificing yourself for the achievement of something bigger than you
  • Nurturing your inner voice and connection with the Spirit

To some readers, this might seem like woo-woo, but I can assure that it isn’t. This is about the spiritual dimension of every individual and if you disregard it, you will annulate a part of you which will become a problem.

The Western world currently faces a major spiritual crisis where people feel disconnected with anything in their lives which has a higher purpose than themselves. That’s why people are miserable even though they lead an “objectively” rich life where they appear to have everything but still feel like happiness is not in their lives.

If you read all the way up to here, you found at least one keystone habit which can help you right now in your life.

All that is left now is to implement it. As the famous adage goes:

“Knowing and not doing is the same as not knowing.”

Now you know, it’s time to do.

More About Habits

Featured photo credit: Bram Naus via unsplash.com

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