Preparing for a job interview can be a daunting experience for many people. The prospect of being put on the spot asked difficult questions, and judged by a potential employer can be stressful and nerve-wracking. However, it’s important to remember that with the right preparation and mindset, you can minimize your stress and anxiety and increase your chances of success.

As an expert career transition coach, I can say that one of the keys to reducing interview anxiety is to put in the time and effort to prepare thoroughly. In this article, I explore some essential tips and strategies that can help you prepare for an interview and increase your chances of landing the job you want.

How to Prepare for an Interview


1. Identify Your Unique Selling Proposition

Identifying your Unique Selling Proposition (USP) is a crucial step in preparing for a job interview. It is essentially what sets you apart from other candidates and helps you to stand out as the best fit for the role. Your USP is a combination of your skills, experiences, know-how, and personality traits that enable you to solve specific business problems and challenges. 

To discover yours, begin by defining what your why is, or your raison deter (reason for being). Take some time to reflect on your past experiences, accomplishments, and abilities. Think about how you successfully contributed to solving a business problem. What came as easily as breathing to you? What tasks did you truly love doing? For what did you receive compliments and accolades?  

Once you have identified your USP, practice articulating it with confidence. Be sure to include it in your responses during the interview, highlighting how it aligns with the company’s needs and mission. You can also create a Skills Mind Map, a Professional Dossier, and an interview presentation that captures and demonstrates your personal Brand will differentiate you from the competition and help the interviewer see how you stand out from other candidates and why you are the best fit for the job.

Remember, the key to success is believing in your USP and being able to communicate it clearly and effectively. So take the time to identify it and practice articulating it effectively. The combination of your experiences, skills, perspectives, and thought processes makes you entirely unique and the key is to be able to show how that distinctiveness can help an organization reach it’s goals and objectives.

2. Boost your interview skills with mock interviews

One of the best ways to excel in job interviews is to practice with mock interviews. It allows you to build confidence and refine your communication skills in a simulated environment.

To do that, set up a mock interview with a friend, colleague, or interview coach and practice answering questions you are likely to get such as:

  • Tell me about yourself.
  • Why do you think you’re the best fit for this role?
  • How do you handle difficult situations at work?
  • Give an example of a project you managed successfully.
  • Tell me about a time when you had to make a tough decision.
  • What is your biggest weakness?
  • Why do you want to work here?

Mock interviews will let you identify areas that need improvement, so you can fine-tune your responses, gain confidence, and stand out in your real job interview.

3. Get ready for your job interview rounds

Employers may conduct multiple interview rounds to assess your skills, personality and fit for the role. Knowing what to expect in each round can help you prepare better and show up confidently. Some common interview rounds to prepare for are:

Screening interviews: A brief introduction to discuss your qualifications and experience. Often this round is conducted by the HR department and seeks to vet your basic skills and qualifications.

Technical interviews: An assessment of your technical skills related to the job. Practice coding challenges (if you’re applying for a technical job) and be ready to discuss your approaches and methodologies.

Behavioral interviews: A review of your past experiences and behavioral traits to determine your fit for the role. Prepare stories that highlight your achievements, challenges you’ve overcome, and how you handle difficult situations.

Final interviews: The last stage of the hiring process where you meet with senior managers or executives. Be ready to discuss your long-term goals, cultural fit and how you can contribute to the company.

When you understand the various interview rounds and prepare accordingly, you can show your best self and significantly boost your chances of landing the job.

4. Be confident on the day of your interview

When it comes to interviews, feeling confident can make all the difference. That’s why it’s vital to prepare not just by researching the company and practicing your answers, but also by building up your own confidence.

One way to do this is through positive self-talk. Before the interview, take a few minutes to remind yourself of your strengths and accomplishments. Instead of dwelling on any perceived weaknesses or mistakes, focus on what you bring to the table and how you can contribute to the company’s success.

Visualization is another powerful technique. Close your eyes and imagine yourself acing the interview, answering questions with ease and impressing the interviewer. It can make you feel more prepared and confident going into the actual interview.

Remember that confidence is also conveyed through your actions. Arriving early and well-prepared shows that you take the interview seriously and have a sense of self-assurance. 

During the interview, speak clearly and with conviction, and don’t be afraid to ask questions and make sure to provide examples to support your answers. And don’t forget to smile as it shows both confidence and congeniality. With the right mindset and preparation, you can feel confident and ready to tackle any interview. 

5. Get ready for off-topic chats during your interview

When you’re interviewing for a job, you might find that the conversation takes a turn into personal topics. It can be an opportunity to show your personality and connect with the interviewer on a more personal level.

To make the most of these off-topic chats, it’s necessary to be prepared with some strategies.

Actively listen to what the interviewer is saying and respond thoughtfully. Ask follow-up questions to show that you’re interested in what they have to say. Share interesting stories or experiences that highlight your personality and demonstrate your ability to communicate effectively.

Ask open-ended questions that encourage the conversation to flow. For example, you could ask about why they chose to come work for the company, their favorite memory of working there, or what they like doing in their free time. With that, you can find common ground, build a rapport with the interviewer, and discover some of their key values.

Maintain a professional and respectful tone, even during informal conversations. Avoid discussing controversial topics or speaking negatively about current and former employers. Instead, focus on building a positive relationship with the interviewer that showcases your communication skills and ability to connect with others.

6. Plan your questions ahead of time

A key goal of any job interview is to show your interest and enthusiasm for the position and the company. You can do this by preparing a list of thoughtful questions to ask your interviewer during the interview. By doing so, you demonstrate that you have researched the company and are genuinely interested in the job.

To make sure that you don’t forget your questions during the interview, it’s a good idea to write them down and bring them with you. You can then refer to them if you get nervous or distracted during the interview, and you’ll be more likely to ask all the questions you intended to.

Your list of questions should be tailored to the specific job and company you’re interviewing for. Here are some tips you can follow:

  1. Research the company beforehand and ask questions related to the job or the organization’s mission.
  2. What problem(s) they’re looking to solve by hiring for the position you’re interviewing for.
  3. Inquire about the work culture and opportunities for growth.
  4. Ask about the interviewer’s own experience at the company and what they enjoy about working there.
  5. Remember to stay professional and focused on the job and the company.

With well-thought-out questions to ask, you’ll show your enthusiasm and interest in the position, and gain valuable information about the position, the expectations, and the company.

7. Showcase your skills and abilities

Taking time to reflect on your strengths, weaknesses, and skills can be an important step in preparing for a job interview. Knowing your unique abilities, as well as areas where you may need to improve, can allow you to present yourself in the best light possible to the employer.

When reflecting on your strengths, think about the things that you excel at or that come naturally to you. These could include your communication skills, your ability to work in a team, your attention to detail, or your problem-solving abilities. Consider specific examples of times when you have demonstrated these strengths in your professional or personal life.

When reflecting on your weaknesses, think about the areas where you may need to improve or develop more skills. These could include technical skills related to the job, or more general skills like time management or public speaking. Being honest about your weaknesses can show the interviewer that you are self-aware and open to growth and improvement. Just be sure to talk about what you’re doing to improve your weakness and the strategies you employ to counterbalance it.

To better understand your strengths, weaknesses and skills, take these steps:

  1. Use self-assessment tools: Use online resources to identify your strengths, weaknesses and skills.
  2. Seek feedback: Ask friends, family or colleagues for feedback on what they think you excel at and what areas you could improve.
  3. Be honest with yourself: Identify areas where you may lack experience or expertise and develop a plan for addressing them.

Remember, being aware of your strengths and weaknesses can craft a narrative that positions you as the best candidate for the job.

8. Follow-up

Send individual thank you emails to each person with whom you interviewed. Note your appreciation for their time, a few things that stood out to you about your conversation, as well as three to five bullets reiterating the skills and abilities you bring to the position. Make these bullets relevant to the job description and the conversations you had with each interviewer. Be sure to get the email address from each of your interviewers or from your primary contact. Send the email(s) out within 24-hours after the interview(s). 

Ask about the decision making timeframe and next steps at the end of the interview. If you have not heard back within the noted timeframe then call, don’t email, the hiring manager or recruiter. Best is to try early morning, a few minutes before the top of the hour, over lunch time, or a little bit after hours when you are most likely to have success reaching someone. Also, don’t leave voice messages. Instead call back again later or the next day. When you reach the person, start by introducing yourself, then restate your enthusiasm for the position and ask for a quick status update. This approach will help relieve some of the anxiety of waiting to hear back.

In conclusion, preparing for an interview is an important aspect of the job search process that requires effort, dedication, and the right mindset. You can increase your chances of success with proper preparation, due diligence, and practice.