How to prepare for a job interview
Once you get to the in-person interview that’s when it’s your time to truly shine and show what you’ve got. These five steps below will help you do your very best at in-person interviews.
One of the biggest challenges when conducting a job search process and trying to figure out how to prepare for a job interview is to stand out. Your resume among dozens or even hundreds of other applicants, pass by a recruiting manager and it can seem like a miracle when you make it to a phone screening call. On these stages, many things depend on the subjective preference of the person in charge and sometimes even luck.
It can be hard to land that first interview when you have little experience in the field you’re trying to get into. Digital marketing, for instance, is a big field with many different types of roles to choose from. Finding the area you want to pursue as a career can be challenging when you can’t seem to get past the interview process. Some may turn to freelance to try out different types of marketing positions or other low-risk ways to experiment with a new job path.
When you do, however, land that in-person interview that’s when it’s your time to truly shine and show what you’ve got. These five steps will help you succeed when determining how to prepare for a job interview leading up to in-person interviews and afterward. You’ll also learn the habits to keep and the habits to break throughout these steps.
1. What to wear when preparing for an interview
Dress to express, not to impress
Put your best foot forward, but don’t try to look like someone else for the interview. If you need to wear something out of your comfort zone just to fit in, it’s probably not the company for you. It’s one thing to pull it off for one hour, but imagine how soul-draining it would be to spend years of your life wearing things you are not comfortable with.
Be memorable, be yourself
Show your style to give the interviewer a chance to get to know you and remember you. Show them who you are and watch their reaction. You should be evaluating them and see if it’s a good fit for you. It has to be a match on both sides to make your career in the company long-term.
2. Being late to an interview is not an option
This part might sound silly, but it is crucial. If you are late to the interview your chances of getting hired drop significantly. In a Simply Hired survey of 850 hiring managers, 93 percent said that tardiness hurt a candidate’s hiring chances. So don’t be late! Eliminate any obstacle that you can control.
Do a test run to prepare for the interview
Do a “test run” to the place of the interview to make sure you know where the office is and where to park and estimate the time it takes to get there.
Leave home in advance
On the day of the interview leave the house with at least one spare hour to account for traffic, car problems, and anything else. If you have to rush to an interview you will look unorganized to the interviewer. Show your confidence and organization by patiently waiting in the lobby when the interviewer comes to bring you in.
3. Company’s Research to prepare for a job interview
Now it’s your time to play Sherlock Holmes. Research and plan your interview as if it’s your first after-COVID vocation (you all know what I’m talking about). Your interview may look different during these uncertain times, but how you prepare for a job interview shouldn’t.
Start with the website
Don’t get caught in the weeds, but make a quick note of areas of improvement as well as areas that impressed you. Besides technical aspects of the website look at the tone and voice of the company, learn its story and the team. Try to understand what’s truly driving the company.
Look beyond your specialization
When preparing for a job interview it’s important that you emphasize your skillsets. Put an emphasis on your specialization (SEO, paid search, social), but also show them that you have basic knowledge of other areas and understand how everything correlates.
For example, if you are a PPC specialist it may be beneficial to audit social media and see which images and copy resonate with the audience, and apply these principles in your ad copy and graphics. If you are a content strategist, look at the best-performing pages through an SEO analysis, look at what their main competitors are ranking for, and use your findings when creating strategy.
Good old social media stalking
You should definitely including checking the companies social media pages if you aren’t already when preparing for a job interview. You can see how they talk to their audience, how they interact with each other, and how they spend time outside of the office. It will give you a good idea of the company’s style and will help you prepare your answers for the interview.
Take it one step further
If it’s a SAS company, start your free trial and learn features, if it’s a makeup brand – try the product before your interview, if it’s a B2B service, try to use it yourself or find someone who does and get their feedback. Use platforms like Quora and Reddit as your social listening tools and see what people have to say about the product/service.
Use the following tools to evaluate the company’s performance:
- SpyFu.com (for SEO analysis and PPC)
- PageSpeed Insights (for mobile and desktop speed)
- Phlanx.com (for measuring engagement rates, and Instagram audit)
- Facebook Ad Library (for FB ads’ analysis)
- AdParlor.com (for Ads mockups)
- SimilarWeb (for web analytics data like website visits, bounce rate, traffic source)
4. At the interview
Gently show off your research and knowledge
When determining how to prepare for a job interview, one of the best things to try is to occasionally mention your opinion about the company while you’re talking about your own experience. This way the transition will seem more natural and it will allow you to demonstrate your competence without sounding like a “know it all” person. For example, if you completed a website optimization project recently, mention their website optimization and share ideas: my last project was about mobile optimization, we did x,y,z. By the way, I think you can really benefit from “y” as well because I saw that……”
Prepare for the interview with a few universal answers
For example, if you had a recent successful campaign that involved email marketing, research, social media, and more, practice to talk about that in detail as well as in general terms. You can use the same story for multiple questions, all you need to do is to shift the angle and emphasize another aspect of the campaign.
Write questions for the company
I would not advise you to settle with Googling “questions to ask at the interview” (aren’t we all guilty of that?). You can use it as inspiration, but asking a company only about their team culture and history probably is not the best idea. This is another chance to show your extensive research and ask meaningful questions that will spark the conversions. Compare these two scenarios below. Which one do you think is better?
Scenario 1: asking basic questions
- Who are your competitors?
- Quickbooks, Blackbaud, and Salsalabs
Scenario 2: highlighting your knowledge of the company by asking insightful questions
- My research showed that your main competitors are QB and Blackbaud, is that correct?
- Yes, it is. Good job researching!
- So, I analyzed their recent campaigns and did some social listening, and I learned that they are successful at x,y,z, and their weakness is q. I’d use it to our advantage in the feature campaign by doing…….. What do you think?
- That’s an interesting approach. We didn’t think about it from that angle. It’s always good to have a fresh pair of eyes. Let me see if your VP can join the conversation, I want to see his opinion on your ideas.
Prepare a few “small-talk” topics that are memorable and unique. Don’t talk about the weather and your way to the interview. Everybody will talk about that. Be different. Look up your interviewer on Ln and FB and see what he likes. Is there anything you have in common?
Analyze your interview
Think about the conversations you had during the interview. Is there a question you didn’t nail because you were too nervous? Even though the interview is over it’s not too late to recover. I was once asked about my approach in creating a social media calendar and found myself answering in a very scattered way (to put it mildly).
But, once home, I regrouped and rethought, and outlined a 90-day social media plan for the company. And what do you think happened? I was invited to the second interview the very next morning, right after I sent them my 90-day plan.
It won’t always work (been there done that), but it will work at least once. And one chance is all you need.
Send a meaningful follow-up email
Even if you think you nailed it, don’t send just “it was a pleasure to meet you” after the interview. Try to engage your interviewer in a meaningful conversation that will keep you on top of his mind.
It’s a lot of steps, isn’t it? How you prepare for a job interview can feel exhausting at times. Additionally, hearing many “NOs” is not really a confidence booster, but remember that any successful marketer has been through this early in their career (don’t believe me? Ask them!). Just do your best in preparing and the right opportunity will find you.
You can do it, you WILL do it.
Zhenya can’t live without dogs, traveling, and digital marketing! She was an early adapter of the Acadium platform while transitioning from engineering to digital marketing. Now she is an expert in content strategy and analytics and excited to give back to the community and share her expertise.
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