Prepare to Win: The Ultimate Guide on Landing an Interview
So you think you have what it takes to become the next Facebook billionaire? Well, maybe you’re not there yet, but at least you can get an interview with the hiring leader of your favorite company! When it comes to landing your dream job, preparation is key—and this guide will teach you how to prep in order to win that coveted interview. Before we dive into the nitty-gritty of how to prepare, let’s take a step back and examine why prepping will give you the greatest chance of success.
Learn the company’s goals
Before you start applying for a job, do some research. Make sure you understand what’s important to your potential employer and that you demonstrate how your skills fit into their organizational goals. You can find out a lot about a company by reading its About page; if it doesn’t have one, ask around or Google company website plus the company name.
Think about questions they might ask
As you’re prepping for your interview, go through a list of possible questions they might ask. Write down everything that comes to mind, even if it’s not directly related to what your job will be. While many interviewers do adhere to a specific set of questions, there’s no guarantee they’ll stick with them; coming prepared with at least some ideas about what kinds of things you may be asked can help prepare you for any potential curveball.
Practice with friends and family
When you get a chance, run through your answers with family or friends. This can help you identify weak points in your logic, or gaps in your knowledge. Additionally, practicing aloud will help you formulate a conversational flow. Of course, by doing all of these things, you’ll have more confidence when it comes time for that job interview. Not only that, but being prepared and knowing what to expect will make it easier for everyone involved and avoid any surprises that could derail your interview performance.
Make the most of your resume
Don’t just rush out and get one resume—make sure it’s crafted specifically for each opportunity. Though a lot of things remain constant (job titles, employment dates, schools attended), tweak it in a way that makes sense for each job. Add additional skills, accomplishments, and details as necessary. Recruiters can be busy people; don’t make them work harder than they have to. Make sure your resume is easy for them to scan and matches up with what they’re looking for! And don’t forget about LinkedIn (or other professional networks) – recruiters will check there first, even if you list your contact information on your resume.
Determine how you stand out
There’s a good chance that you’ve already done some research about how to land an interview, so now it’s time to take a more targeted approach. Think about what makes you stand out from other candidates and determine how you can best relay that information. This could be things like your GPA, extracurricular activities, or any coursework related to your field of study—whatever is most relevant. Think about these points ahead of time and try to customize each response so it resonates with your prospective employer. You want to keep your answers focused and concise; if you find yourself rambling or veering off track, stop yourself before losing focus. Remember: Employers are looking for people who will contribute value beyond their formal credentials, so do whatever you can to display why that’s true in every aspect of your job search.
Optimize your LinkedIn profile
First impressions are everything. It’s no secret that recruiters look at your LinkedIn profile, so you should make sure it is well optimized. One of the best ways to do that is by writing a professional summary at its top (read more about how to write a professional summary here). You can also optimize your profile by including keywords like marketing, programming, and/or CMO. Read our guide on how to optimize your LinkedIn profile here.
Resume variations for different positions
While you may be able to get away with a single resume if you’re applying for one specific job, putting together different versions of your resume can help broaden your reach and increase your odds of being called in for an interview. If you’re planning to apply for positions at multiple companies in your industry, it can be helpful to tweak or customize certain sections or bullet points depending on each position.
Write a cover letter that stands out
Before you can get a job interview, you have to convince your future employer that you’re worth meeting in person. To do that, use your cover letter to make a compelling case for why you’re a perfect fit for their company. Here are some guidelines for how best to show them what you can do and how much value you can bring.
Get to know the company better
Before your interview, it’s important to understand a company’s culture and values so you can be confident and prepared. This will also help you decide if it’s right for you. Try asking friends or colleagues who work there what they like or dislike about their jobs. Is it exciting? Do they feel challenged every day? How do they feel treated by management? Is there room for advancement? Does it seem like a good place to fit in and make new connections? Your interviewer should expect you to know something about them before coming in for an interview. Here are some ways you can get more familiar with a company’s operations before your meeting: