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Last Updated on December 3, 2019

23 Things to Keep in Mind When Preparing for an Interview

23 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. Here’re 35 Reasons You Should Work With a Coach.

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.

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

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 to Help You Get Prepared

Featured photo credit: Nik MacMillan via unsplash.com

More by this author

Margaret Olatunbosun

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

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Published on October 19, 2020

27 Strategies to Achieve Your Goals Fast

27 Strategies to Achieve Your Goals Fast

As a performance coach and expert in the psychology of productivity for over 25 years, I have used every tool in the book to teach people how to achieve their goals by breaking through their barriers, getting out of their heads, and getting into their productive flow.

Here are my favorite tools and techniques to keep you on the path towards achieving your goals and dreams.

1. Accountability

Your word is your wand. It’s the source of your power. What you say, what you commit to, and what you follow through on creates confidence in your own ability to create what you want in the world.

However, every time you go back on what you said you were going to do, it weakens your inner power. Your subconscious mind keeps track of what you promise. It records each time you don’t follow through with your commitments and unconsciously reduces your power to create. Keep your word and keep your power!

2. Time Excuse Diet

The fastest way to achieve your goals is to stop using time as an excuse for why you’re not getting things done. Stop seeing time as your enemy, and start seeing time as your most valuable ally. Picture yourself as the source of time, and decide where you want to use it and where not to.

3. Gratitude

The attitude of gratitude changes everything. When we focus on what we are grateful for, we connect to the most important things in our life, which floods our system with positive chemicals and releases joy, euphoria, and excitement.

Start by making a list of the things and people you are most grateful for in this moment. Every morning, list the 5 things you are grateful for that day.

4. 1% Improvement

To maintain momentum and motivation, focus on getting 1% better per day. Don’t overwhelm yourself with unrealistic goals. Let go of perfection and focus on progress. Anyone can improve by 1%. After a month, you’ll be 30% better. After 3 months you will be 100% better without nearly as much effort as you think.

5. Nature Breaks

When you take a break, look around you. If you don’t see any plants, trees, or blue sky, then you need to get outside. Being in nature naturally resets your mental state to a state of natural wellbeing.

Wayne Dyer famously said, “there’s nothing to do in nature. Nature will do you.” Take 5-10 minutes to be in nature with no expectations, and you will feel the results immediately.

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6. Music

Songs and sounds that motivate you have been shown to increase your brain’s ability to learn, be creative, and be motivated. This is especially true of classical music.

Put music on during mundane tasks to help you get through the day. Relaxing music in the evening can help you rest and recover better. Meditation music can help you reach deeper levels of focus and calm. In short, a bit of pleasant music can make nearly any situation better and more productive.

7. Hypnosis

Subconscious suggestion while in a relaxed state is the fastest way to program your mind for what you truly want. The subconscious mind is the hard drive of everything we do. A good way to start self-hypnosis is to close your eyes in a comfortable seated position, take a few deep breaths, and then put on audio conditioning or hypnosis audio.

8. Relational Communication

When having trouble communicating, remember this: the meaning of communication is the response you get.

When you’re communicating something important, pay attention to the way the other person responds. If they’re not responding the way you expected, it’s your responsibility to continue the communication cycle until they understand it the way you intended. Don’t make the other person responsible for how they’ll understand your message.

9. Laughter

Creating laughter in difficult situations stops us from immediately going into worry, doubt, and fear. Laughter is like the jamming system of our mental radar that gives us space to observe and learn from our situation.

When encountering a problem or difficulty, repeat out loud to yourself, “I laugh at this current situation. I can laugh at how bad this is.” Get your brain focused on laughter and amusement. It prevents the mental dominoes from falling down the wrong path by putting your mind into a state of curiosity so it becomes open to learning from the situation.

10. Time Blocking

If it’s important, you need to calendar it. Make sure you block out time for what’s most important in your day. This ensures at the end of the day that the essential things are done and distractions don’t rule your world. I use Outlook to organize my calendar appointments and Calendly to make it easier for people to book themselves on my calendar.

Find out more about time blocking: Time Blocking for Productivity (A Complete Guide)

11. Power Naps

One of my favorite strategies for achieving your goals fast is taking a nap. Research shows that people who take naps are more productive. A regular nap for 20 minutes per day can increase your performance and productivity by 10-30%.

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A great way to ensure a good power nap is by using an eye mask with noise-canceling headphones. For an extra boost, drink a cup of coffee just before you begin your nap. It sounds counterintuitive, but it takes the caffeine about 20 minutes to kick in and it will help you wake up feeling extra energetic.

Learn more about power nap: How to Power Nap for Maximum Benefits

12. 4-7-8 Breathing

When you’re stressed out or redlining in your day, this ancient Vedic breathing technique will instantly calm your last nerves. Start by inhaling through your nose for 4 seconds, hold your breath for 7 seconds, and exhale through your mouth making a whoosh sound for 8 seconds. A quick 3 rounds of this technique will bring you down from even the most stressful situations in your day so you can get back to being productive.

13. Circle of Excellence

Here’s a quick way to shift yourself into a high-performance mindset: think about a time when you felt super confident and unstoppable. Re-live that memory. Place that memory in an imaginary circle in front of you on the floor. Once it’s there, step into the circle and the memory.

Imagine yourself being transported back to it, feeling it come in through your toes all the way to the top of your head, and imagine yourself looking through your own eyes as if you are inside of that memory now. Seeing what you’re seeing, hearing what you’re hearing, and feeling what your feeling, be in the memory now. Feel the motivation and confidence rise in your body. Activate that positive feeling in this very moment.

14. Be of Service

Helping others is one of the most relevant things we can do today to be happier, more grateful, and more motivated. Giving to others is the greatest gift we can give to ourselves psychologically. It releases a huge amount of positive chemicals and hormones that make us feel great. It also helps us put life in perspective. The happiest and most productive people are those who feel they are being of service.

15. Visualization

This is one of my favorite tools to help you create your ideal future. Take a few minutes to visualize how you want your life to be. This will help you get there much faster.

Studies with athletes have shown clearly that the more you practice any action in your mind, the quicker it becomes a reality. Your subconscious mind doesn’t know the difference between visualization and doing the actual thing. This might be the most powerful free technique of all time, so use it as often as possible!

Start trying these 13 Visualization Techniques to Help You Reach Your Goals.

16. Head-Heart-Body

This exercise is the fastest way to check your mind, emotion, and physical well-being. It is a lot like checking the gauges on your car. The technique is simple—close your eyes, focus on your head, and notice what thoughts you’re having.

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Take a deep breath. Focus on your heart. Notice what mood or emotion you’re having. Take another breath. Focus on your diaphragm. Notice the sensations in your physical body. Take one more deep breath and ask the question, “What am I needing right now?” Write down the answer your mind gives you. This is a great technique to use midday or right before important decisions or activities.

17. Technology Time-Out

In our 24/7 hyper-connected world, we are constantly connected to our devices. This “always-on” lifestyle is hard on our bodies and mind. Putting your devices down a few times a day can help you reset and recharge. Take a few 10-minute “technology time-outs” each day and see how much better you feel by the end of the day.

18. Timefulness

Be “timeful” by being mindful of your relationship with time and being intentional with how you use your time. Stop blaming time and start using it. Put yourself in the driver’s seat of your life by knowing that you are 100% in control of your time—you are the source of time.

19. Time Frame Exercise

Changing the time frame in which you view a situation alters the way your brain views the content, often changing it from potentially negative to positive. It can be easy to get overwhelmed when you are focusing all your energy on this moment in time. If you take a moment to close your eyes and expand your time view from this moment into the future, it instantly changes the context which also changes the meaning of the content.

Open up time a bit in your mind and see how the situation could play out this month, year, or over a lifetime. The biggest upsets in life often turn out to be the most positive for us long term or, at least, have a less negative impact on us than we think.

20. Journaling

Writing down your thoughts has a profound effect on integrating the right and left sides of the brain. Research shows that when you write things down, you allow clarity and insights to come through simply by putting your thoughts and emotions on paper. Journaling allows you to name the emotions and things bothering you, and this process alone can help you neutralize and settle your thoughts. Name it to tame it.

21. Schedule Everything

Schedules allow for spontaneity. It sounds counterintuitive, but research shows the more organized your calendar is, the more flexible you can be. Knowing what you have to accomplish frees your mind to allow for spontaneous activity.

The lack of scheduling creates chaos in the mind. The calendar gets it out of your mind and frees up more cognitive space. It also gives us a GPS for what we need to do each day. Schedule all personal activities, not just work.

22. Get Better Sleep

Sleep is the master tool for recovery. Sleeping in a dark, quiet, cool room is the key to recovery and sleep. I personally use a Chillipad to keep my blanket temperature around 65 degrees. This gives me incredibly restful sleep.

23. The 5-Second Rule

This momentum technique from Mel Robbins is perfect for when you know you have something to do but don’t want to do it. Count down from 5 to1, and then start the activity. This countdown gives you the mental momentum to do things at that moment. Give yourself a countdown out loud whenever you find it hard to start a task and at the end of the count, you will be in action.

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24. The Accountability Mirror

This daily guidance technique keeps you focused on your goals. Look at yourself in the mirror and ask yourself, “did I accomplish what I set out to accomplish today?” If you didn’t, be brutally honest about why you did not accomplish it, commit to fixing the issue, and do it the next day.

25. Stop, Start, Change

This is a super-effective 30-second therapy. Any issue you have or any place where you are stuck, stopped, or struggling, ask yourself, “what should I stop doing right now,” then “what should I start doing right now”, and “what should I change that I’m doing right now?”

26. The Magic Question

Here it is, the big question: “what am I pretending not to know?” When your brain is stuck and frozen or you feel like you don’t know what to do, ask yourself what you are pretending not to know about the current situation. It inverts the way your brain is processing the question. It penetrates your mind in a different way unlocking new possibilities.

The brain has a certain sequence to answer most questions. This question flips that sequence upside down, so your brain is forced to look at it differently. Use this question when you are ready for powerful changes.

27. Self-Compassion

One of the greatest things you can do to improve your productivity and maintain high-performance levels in your work or in whatever you do is to practice the techniques of being there for yourself. This means being mindful and paying attention to the way you talk to yourself when you encounter failures and setbacks, especially ones that feel as if they are your fault.

The key is to use the same kind of self-talk as you would use with a friend if they were in a similar situation. Speak to yourself with warmth and kindness. Then, recognize the common humanity of the situation—that you are not alone and there are many people out there experiencing exactly what you are right now.

Lastly, stay mindful of how you are talking to yourself and don’t overidentify or dissociate from the situation. “Compassionate productivity” is the most effective way to support yourself in these difficult times.[1] It’s not about being “soft” or going easy on yourself. It’s about being there for yourself in a supportive way, so you can recuperate and get back in the game in an even more productive way.

Try these 13 Simple Habits to Cultivate Self-Compassion.

Final Thoughts

Knowing how to achieve your goals requires implementing some techniques and making use of some tools to help you on your path towards success. These 27 strategies are good starting points to jumpstart your journey towards achieving your dreams.

More Tips on How to Achieve Your Goals

Featured photo credit: Doran Erickson via unsplash.com

Reference

[1] Steven Griffith: Compassionate Productivity

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