Photo of man being interviewed in large roomAshley Sanders is a doctoral candidate in the department of history at Michigan State University. You can follow her on Twitter at @throughthe_veil or on her blog, Colonialism Through the Veil.

Excited, confident, optimistic, stressed out, anxious, terrified… How you feel going into your job interview greatly depends on your preparation. Put yourself in the best position possible with the following tips culled from my experience with both Skype and in-person interviews, as well as advice I gathered during my own preparation.

For more on phone/Skype interviews in particular, see Julie Platt’s GradHacker post, and see my GradHacker post from last spring for more tips on preparing for the job market maze in general.

  1. Know the job announcement inside and out and be able to describe the position you’re applying for without referencing it. I was asked during the course of a day-long interview to describe the responsibilities of the job and what was missing from the job announcement.
  2. Read recent relevant industry (or field-specific) literature. For example, in an interview for a position in the digital humanities, I was asked about trends in the field and which three I considered to be most significant.
  3. Prepare for common interview questions. Write out your answers and practice with someone so that your answers roll off your tongue naturally without sounding rehearsed. Here are two of the most helpful lists of generic interview questions I found:
  1. Prepare some type of hand-out for the interviewers. This could be a simple business card or a copy of your presentation. For more suggestions and ideas, see Angela Smith’s Daily Muse article, “The New Secret to Interview Success: Leave Something Behind.”
  1. Know the organization or school where you are seeking a job. Take time to look through their website. Learn about their mission and look for parallels with your own strengths, mindset, and vision.
  1. Prepare at least 2-3 questions about the company or university that demonstrate you know something about it and that you’re truly interested in knowing the answers to. For example, it could be more information on the student body, on their priorities for the person who steps into this role, on the use of technology (and their stance on it) in the classroom, etc.
  1. Be able to explain why you want this job with this institution and how you fulfill the desired qualifications.
  1. Be able to explain how you will overcome any gaps in your background knowledge or experience.
  1. Plan for the day. Make sure the clothes you want to wear are clean and in good repair, then lay them out the night before. Plan your route (transportation) to the interview site or ensure your technology is working for a phone or Skype interview. Plan your day to include normal routines like your morning coffee, etc. Bring water and a snack if it is an all-day interview.
  1. Know how you will deal with the anxious butterflies the day of the interview. I set aside some time just before each interview to meditate, reflect on my strengths, and take some deep breaths. You may find a session of yoga, exercise, or repeating positive affirmations useful. Check out Amy Cuddy’s TED talk on body language to learn about “power poses” that boost confidence. Answering the six questions listed in Katie Douthwaite’s article, Six Questions That Will Ease Your Mind Before an Interview will also help calm the jitters.

Walk through these ten steps and know that you are as prepared as you can be for your interview. Be confident in who you are, what you’ve accomplished, and what you have to offer. Best wishes in your search!

Have other tips for interview preparation? Please share them in the comments!

[Image by Flickr user bpsusf and used under creative commons licensing.]


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