Preparing for a job interview

Don't go into a job interview unprepared. Image: quinn.anya/Flickr/CC BY-SA

While unemployment figures have been dropping steadily, 13 million Americans still remain out of work. It is a tough job market out there, and anything one can do to hedge his or her bet is a good thing. The secret to winning a job is a good interview. What one does to prepare for that interview can make all the difference.

Women have the edge

In preparing for the interview, according to the Kansas City Star, women have the edge. Justin Feeney, a psychology doctoral candidate, says women do naturally what males would do well to emulate.

Feeney, along with two other researchers, has been conducting studies into the anxiety of job interviewing. The studies found that, on the whole, women exhibited greater stress and worry about impending job interviews than men. However, that stress prompts them to be proactive and to prepare for the interview process.

Feeney said of women interview candidates:

“They read books on interviewing, they did mock interviews, they got encouragement from their friends; so they went into the interview with higher confidence.”

Men generally play down their anxiety in an attempt to exhibit confidence and as a result prepared less and fared poorer in interviews.

According to U.S. News and World Report, there are four basic areas to concentrate on when preparing for a job interview.

1. Research the potential employer

Getting to know a potential employer is one of the most important things an interviewee can do to hedge his or her bet. The first step should be to visit that employer’s website, if there is one. An interviewee should poke around the site long enough at least to answer the questions: What does the company do? Who are the key players? And, what sets the company apart from its competitors?

Where not to apply

The Wall Street Journal points out that researching a company can also tell a job-seeker where not to apply. The financial news giant said:

“You don’t want to be jobless in a year because of sweeping organizational changes or a merger.”

The WSJ piece goes on to tell how one job-seeker, Karl Miller, landed a job at AIG in 2008, a week before the company suffered its well-publicized financial upheaval. Miller received updated messages of when his start date would be right up to the time that AIG received its federal bailout.

[Supporting the troops. Military payday loans.]

An interviewee should go through the job description with a fine-toothed comb before the interview. He or she should take the time to physically write down any experience that might match the job description. That information should be at the tip of the interviewee’s tongue when asked.

3. Anticipate questions, practice answers

The interviewee should write down a series of question — U.S. News suggests at least ten — that he or she thinks they are likely to be asked. Then, he or she should have a ready answer to each, backed up with personal experience. The potential candidate should then practice these answers, over and over, until they roll off the tongue. While the exact questions may never be asked, it is likely that many of the prepared responses will come in handy during the interview process.

Some questions WSJ suggests practicing answers for are: Why are you leaving your current situation? Why is the job opening you are applying for appealing to you? What are your strengths and weaknesses? What experience do you have related to the position? What are your salary expectations?

4. Questions for the interviewer

An employer likes to see a discriminating candidate apply for a position, not somebody so eager to please that his or her comments seem pandering. Solid questions, clarifying the nature of the position or management’s expectations of the person they hire, are impressive to an employer. An employer is generally looking for a take-charge type, not “yes” man or woman.


Wall Street Journal 
U.S. News and World Report 
Kansas City Star 

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