Preparing for a job interview in advance is a surefire way to increase your chances of landing the job! While you might not be able to predict all interview questions and answers, our interview preparation guide and job interview tips will set you up for success.

Ideally, you’ll begin preparing at least a few days in advance, but don’t stress if you can’t. There are plenty of steps you can take to get ready for a face-to-face with your future employer, regardless of how much time you’ve got.

Interview Preparation

With proper interview preparation, you’ll be able to walk into any room with thoughtful, impressive answers to any question thrown at you.

Every company is different. They each have their own set of challenges, their own culture, and even their own lingo. The very first task to tackle when preparing for an interview is to research. Learn about your potential employer’s industry, clients, product or service offerings, and what role you will be filling. Your goal is to understand the company well enough to speak confidently and knowledgeably throughout the interview.

In addition to learning about the company, familiarize yourself with the role you’re applying for. Using each responsibility listed in the job description, write down the skills and/or previous experiences which make you qualified to execute that function. Be prepared to address the not-so-stellar areas of your professional background as well. Most employers aren’t looking for perfection, but for someone who is willing and able to admit their weaknesses and work to improve upon them.

Job Interview Tips

Don’t make the mistake of thinking you’re being assessed on your response to the interview questions alone. Your actions, as well as your words, are being evaluated before, during, and after an interview.

Prepare to impress from the outset by incorporating these job interview tips into your face-to-face meeting. All things being equal, the person who can execute these well will have a leg up on the competition.

  • Dress professionally. You want to look your best, even if the company you’re interviewing for has a more casual dress code. A suit is ideal, although well-fitting, clean, professional clothing in good repair will do. Professional dress includes being well-groomed. Hair (including facial hair), make-up, and nails should always be neat and clean as well.
  • Bring a printed version of your resume, a notebook, and writing utensil. Your interviewer might not have your resume immediately handy. Having an extra copy will show that you have thought ahead. Arriving prepared to take notes will do the same.
  • Arrive at least 10 minutes early. Actually, plan to arrive 30 minutes before your interview. If it works out perfectly you can hang out in your car for a few. This extra buffer allows time to manage the unexpected. A traffic jam, a run in your tights, or getting lost on your way – all of these can cause stress if you’re in a time crunch. But even worse, they can make you late, which is the last thing you want to be when meeting your future boss!
  • Turn off or silence your cell phone. Power down your phone before your interview to ensure you don’t have to interrupt your conversation to decline a call. Taking this step will show that landing the job is your top priority.
  • Give a firm handshake. A solid handshake conveys your confidence right off the bat. If you’re not sure whether your handshake is firm enough, practice in advance with a friend until you get it just right.
  • Make eye contact. The little things like using the interviewer’s name and making eye contact throughout the conversation can have a huge impact on how you are perceived. Practice these, too, if you feel unsure. The more you practice the more comfortable you will be when it’s time to shine.
  • Be mindful of your posture and body language. Body language is key! Sit up straight and lean into the conversation at times to show that you’re actively engaged. Crossed arms, slouching, and leaning back in the chair don’t give the impression that you’re interested in what your interviewer has to say.
  • Speak slowly and clearly. Nerves can cause us to increase the pace of our speech. Take a deep breath, give yourself a moment to think about your answer, and reply to the question a little slower than seems necessary. You’ll come across thoughtful and confident, which is exactly what you want.
  • Send a thank you note immediately after the interview. Taking the time to send a brief, thoughtful note will make you stand out among the applicant pool. Thank the interviewer for his or her time and include a detail or two specific to your interview and why you’re excited about the potential opportunity.

Interview Questions And Answers

There are as many different types of interviews as there are people to interview with. If possible, determine what kind of interview you will be participating in, beforehand. Is it a screening interview with Human Resources, a face-to-face with the hiring manager, a working interview where you’ll be asked to complete a task, or maybe a panel interview with a few key players? Having this information I advance can help determine which interview questions and answers to prepare for.

There are a few questions you’ll likely be asked, regardless of interview type. Take the time to develop a complete, relatively concise, answer to the following interview questions. Then, practice answering these questions so you can be ready to nail it during the conversation.

1.) Tell me about yourself and your background.

Be honest. The question is generic, but you certainly are not! This is a great opportunity to highlight your work experience and accomplishments. Add in a few personal anecdotes to let your personality shine through.

2.) Why are you applying for this job?

Discuss how you learned about the job and why you are interested in this particular role. Consider why you will thrive in this position and lay out a few qualities you think make you perfect for the job.

This is also a great opportunity for your previous research to come into play. Express your personal interest in the company’s core values. Show that you understand where they are headed. Discuss what a great fit you would be for their clients. In short, use what you learned and display genuine enthusiasm for the potential to work with this company.

3.) What is your greatest strength? Weakness?

Now isn’t the time to be modest! Be ready to articulate what you bring to the table professionally. You want to be seen as an irreplaceable asset to the company. Get comfortable discussing your strengths and have a few stories that support your claims.

Discussing personal weaknesses with someone you’ve just met can be pretty uncomfortable, but that doesn’t stop a potential employer from asking about them. Oftentimes an interviewer is more interested in how you answer this question, rather than what the answer is. Your best bet: be honest and confident. Use the opportunity to turn a potential negative into a positive by sharing the specific steps you have taken to improve upon your weaknesses. This will prove that you’re open to feedback and willing to take the steps necessary to grow.

4.) What are your salary expectations?

Do your research before walking into the position. Consider your experience, level of education, the cost of living in the area, and the average salary for similar positions at other companies.

Keep in mind that it’s not always about the dollars and cents. What could a company offer that would make a smaller paycheck worth it? Great benefits and perks, potential for growth, a fantastic learning opportunity, or an awesome commute could all be just as valuable as money in your pocket. What are your priorities and how much money are you willing to sacrifice for them at this time?

5.) Do you have any questions about the position?

Most likely you’ll have an opportunity to switch roles and ask some questions of your own. Arrive with at least two appropriate questions that you genuinely would like to have answered.

This is the perfect opportunity to ask the interviewer what an average day or week looks like for an individual in the role you are applying for. You could inquire about the management structure and who you’d be reporting to. Remember, it’s just as important for you to want the job as it is for the company to want you.

Start Living Your Best Life With Southern Management

Our team is committed to excellence. Southern Management has created a culture that encourages collaboration and professional growth. We retain 90% of our team, year over year. Many team members have been an integral part of our family for decades.

We are constantly evolving and expanding, which creates new opportunities for current and future employees. Are you looking for a job? Explore our current job openings and feel free to use our interview preparation guide as you move through the hiring process!

Once you have your dream job, find your dream apartment. Check Southern Management’s 75 apartment communities online or drop into an open house. You’ll see why Southern Management is a great place to live, work, play, and stay!