Job interviews can be stressful, especially if you’re nervous about making mistakes. You'll feel more relaxed and confident if you prepare for the interview in advance.
Plan to do the following well ahead of your interview:
- Carefully reread the vacancy announcement and the job description.
- Think about all of your past experience, not just your current position. Write down as many accomplishments and actions that you have taken that you might be able to use in answering interview questions. You may wish to organize these in categories, based on how you might use them in an interview.
- In reviewing your accomplishments, there will probably be several that are very relevant to the position for which you are applying. Make sure you talk about these in the interview, so plan to make them come out when you craft your responses.
- Before the interview, review your list. You will probably not be able to remember all of the accomplishments and actions that you have written down, but you will remember and use many more of them than if you had not prepared for the interview.
- Be prepared to answer a variety of questions (see Sample Questions). Especially prepare an answer to the question: "Tell me about yourself." Guidelines on a recommended way to answer questions can be found under Behavioral Interviewing and Sample Questions.
- Talk to someone who performs the target job or a related position.
- Identify your strengths and your weaknesses and be prepared to respond to a question about them. Have a specific example in mind to give for each strength. In sharing a weakness, consider discussing something that was not a strength but that you have worked on to improve your skills.
- Practice for the interview in front of a mirror, a friend, or a video camcorder. Have a friend or family member critique your responses. You should also critique your own responses.
- Manage your stress by eating and sleeping properly prior to the interview. Your preparation will help you to go into the interview with a positive, confident approach.
- If you are applying for a position outside your agency, find out about the employer. Check out the organization's website. Talk with people in the organization, if at all possible. Try to find out something about the individual(s) with whom you will be meeting and about the interview format that will be used.
- Make sure that you get the interviewer's name and telephone number. Get good directions and, if possible, check out the route ahead of time. Leave plenty of time to get there. Plan to arrive ten minutes early.
- Bring copies of your resume and the position announcement. Bring a notepad, pen, and extra copies of your resume. Turn off your cell phone. Make a professional appearance from your head (fresh haircut, if necessary) to your toes (polished shoes). Wear appropriate business clothing. Get ready to smile and greet the interviewer with a firm handshake.