5 Planning Tactics to Avoid a Bad Job Interview

What comes to mind when you think of a job interview? New opportunities and a chance to prove your worth? That’s what we should  think of, however, most of us probably resonate more with sweaty palms, awkward laughter and a long winded response to a simple ice breaker. We’ve all done it, and most of us can joke about it, but that doesn’t erase that awkward uneasy feeling. 

Most of the time, those awkward interviews are after you’ve been out of the “interviewing loop” for awhile. Whether you’re looking to change industries, change locations, reaching for a promotion, or fresh out of college, these five planning tactics will help curb common interview mistakes and assist with calming some of the nerves that come with the experience.

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  1. Review your resume
    It is challenging to keep your resume to one page after you’ve gained substantial experience in your field. This is your moment to showcase the work you have accomplished, but it’s important to trim the fat. Your resume should be tailored to every job you apply for. If you’re applying for your first job out of college, it’s a great idea to include your student involvement and jobs you’ve held throughout the years, but after you get your foot in the door, be sure to remove those items from your resume to make room for your new experiences.

  2. Research the company structure
    A simple Google search will provide you with an advantage in your interview. Aside from doing your homework on what the company is about and the services or products it carries, take a look at the leadership team. How many executives are on the team? Do you know who you are interviewing with? Go a step further and take a look on LinkedIn, you could be surprised to find out that the Human Resources Manager you are interviewing with went to the same college as your brother. Common ground is a great ice breaker and can help steer the direction of the interview to a more relaxed and personal feel.

  3. Prepare for the expected…and the unexpected
    It is impossible to prepare for every question that could be asked in an interview, but it’s good practice to prepare for the typical questions: Tell me a little bit about yourself? Why are you leaving your current role? What challenges did you encounter in your last position? You can also think about some of the one off questions that could be thrown at you: What are strengths/weaknesses? What do you do for fun? If you could have one super power, what would it be? Lastly, don’t forget to be yourself. At the end of the day, you are going to be the person showing up to work everyday. This leads us to our next tactic…

  4. Research the company culture
    Company culture is important knowledge to have. This should be the second time you’re referring to this information. Before even applying for a position you should research the company culture to make sure that they are a good fit for you. This step can be easily missed. We are so concerned with our performance in an interview that we forget this is our chance to interview the company as well. We typically spend about 25% of our weeks at work, so we better make sure it fits our personality and values before making a commitment. Think of a few questions to ask revolving around this idea. It will provide you with good feedback and in turn, will leave a good impression with the interviewer.

  5. Map your route
    Now, this may seem like a no-brainer, but this will help curb your nerves immensely. Before you go to bed, look up where you need be. What time of day are you going? Take that into consideration when determining what route to take. Arrive 15 minutes early, not just because that’s what you are “supposed” to do, but because this too, will calm your nerves. Showing up early gives you the opportunity to center yourself and have a mini pep talk before walking into an interview. Cool, calm, and collected – not hot, frantic, and scatter brained.

These five tactics are all commonsense, and this is not the first time you’ve heard this advice. This is a friendly, motivating reminder that you can, and will, nail your next interview. As Glinda the Good Witch of the South says in The Wizard of Oz, “You’ve always had the power.”

Good luck!