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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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Last Updated on July 13, 2020

How Not to Feel Overwhelmed at Work & Take Control of Your Day

How Not to Feel Overwhelmed at Work & Take Control of Your Day

Overwhelm is a pernicious state largely caused by the ever-increasing demands on our time and the distractions that exist all around us. It creeps up on us and can, in its extreme form, leave us feeling anxious, stressed and exhausted.

If you’re feeling overwhelmed at work, here are 6 strategies you can follow that will reduce the feeling of overwhelm; leaving you calmer, in control and a lot less stressed.

1. Write Everything down to Offload Your Mind

The first thing you can do when you begin to feel overwhelmed is to write everything down that is on your mind.

Often people just write down all the things they think they have to do. This does help, but a more effective way to reduce overwhelm is to also write down everything that’s on your mind.

For example, you may have had an argument with your colleague or a loved one. If it’s on your mind write it down. A good way to do this is to draw a line down the middle of the page and title one section “things to do” and the other “what’s on my mind”.

The act of writing all this down and getting it out of your head will begin the process of removing your feeling of overwhelm. Writing things down can really change your life.

2. Decide How Long It Will Take to Complete Your To-Dos

Once you have ‘emptied your head,’ go through your list and estimate how long it will take to complete each to-do.

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As you go through your list, you will find quite a few to-dos will only take you five or ten minutes. Others will take longer, often up to several hours.

Do not worry about that at this stage. Just focus on estimating how long you will need to complete each task to the best of your ability. Here’s How to Cultivate a More Meaningful To Do List.

3. Take Advantage of Parkinson’s Law

Now here’s a little trick I learned a long time ago. Parkinson’s Law states that work will fill the time you have available to complete it, and us humans are terrible at estimating how long something will take:((Odhable: Genesis of Parkinson’s Law))

    This is why many people are always late. They think it will only take them thirty minutes to drive across town when previous experience has taught them it usually takes forty-five minutes to do so because traffic is often bad but they stick to the belief it will only take thirty minutes. It’s more wishful thinking than good judgment.

    We can use Parkinson’s Law to our advantage. If you have estimated that to write five emails that desperately need a reply to be ninety minutes, then reduce it down to one hour. Likewise, if you have estimated it will take you three hours to prepare your upcoming presentation, reduce it down to two hours.

    Reducing the time you estimate something will take gives you two advantages. The first is you get your work done quicker, obviously. The second is you put yourself under a little time pressure and in doing so you reduce the likelihood you will be distracted or allow yourself to procrastinate.

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    When we overestimate how long something will take, subconsciously our brains know we have plenty of time and so it plays tricks on us and we end up checking reviews of the Apple Watch 4 or allow our colleagues to interrupt us with the latest office gossip.

    Applying a little time pressure prevents this from happening and we get more focused and more work done.

    4. Use the Power of Your Calendar

    Once you have your time estimates done, open up your calendar and schedule your to-dos. Go through your to-dos and schedule time on your calendar for doing those tasks. Group tasks up into similar tasks.

    For emails that need attention on your to-do list, schedule time on your calendar to deal with all your emails at once. Likewise, if you have a report to write or a presentation to prepare, add these to your calendar using your estimated time as a guide for how long each will take.

    Seeing these items on your calendar eases your mind because you know you have allocated time to get them done and you no longer feel you have no time. Grouping similar tasks together keeps you in a focused state longer and it’s amazing how much work you get done when you do this.

    5. Make Decisions

    For those things you wrote down that are on your mind but are not tasks, make a decision about what you will do with each one. These things are on your mind because you have not made a decision about them.

    If you have an issue with a colleague, a friend or a loved one, take a little time to think about what would be the best way to resolve the problem. More often than not just talking with the person involved will clear the air and resolve the problem.

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    If it is a more serious issue, then decide how best to deal with it. Talk to your boss, a colleague and get advice.

    Whatever you do, do not allow it to fester. Ignoring the problem will not make it go away. You need to make a decision to deal with it and the sooner you do so the sooner the problem will be resolved. (You can take a look at this guide on How To Make Good Decisions All The Time.)

    I remember long ago, when I was in my early twenties and had gone mad with my newly acquired credit cards. I discovered I didn’t have the money to pay my monthly bills. I worried about it for days, got stressed and really didn’t know what to do. Eventually, I told a good friend of mine of the problem. He suggested I called the credit card company to explain my problem. The next day, I plucked up the courage to call the company, explained my problem and the wonderful person the other end listened and then suggested I paid a smaller amount for a couple of months.

    This one phone call took no more than ten minutes to make, yet it solved my problem and took away a lot of the stress I was feeling at the time. I learned two very valuable lessons from that experience:

    The first, don’t go mad with newly acquired credit cards! And the second, there’s always a solution to every problem if you just talk to the right person.

    6. Take Some Form of Action

    Because overwhelm is something that creeps up on us, once we feel overwhelmed (and stressed as the two often go together), the key is to take some form of action.

    The act of writing everything down that is bothering you and causing you to feel overwhelmed is a great place to start. Being able to see what it is that is bothering you in a list form, no matter how long that list is, eases the mind. You have externalized it.

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    It also means rather than these worries floating around in a jumbled mess inside your head, they are now visible and you can make decisions easier about what to do about them. Often it could be asking a colleague for a little help, or it could be you see you need to allocate some focused time to get the work done. The important thing is you make a decision on what to do next.

    Overwhelm is not always caused by a feeling of having a lack of time or too much work, it can also be caused by avoiding a decision about what to do next.

    The Bottom Line

    Make a decision, even if it is to just talk to someone about what to do next. Making a decision about how you will resolve something on its own will reduce your feelings of overwhelm and start you down the path to a resolution one way or another.

    When you follow these strategies to can say goodbye to your overwhelm and gain much more control over your day.

    More Tips for Reducing Work Stress

    Featured photo credit: Andrei Lazarev via unsplash.com

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