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How to Prepare for a Job Interview

If you want to get a higher salary or a better leg up in life, you need to know how to prepare for a job interview like a boss.

Assuming that you're not the child of a multi-millionaire, a billionaire, a celebrity, or anyone else who could just pave your way through life, you will need to get a job at one point or another. Money doesn't just happen, and most of us will have to pitch in at one point or another. 

Job interviews, even if they are for something as casual as a position at McDonald's, are a test. Interviews are where employers get an idea of whether you're actually capable of doing the job at hand — and whether it's a good idea to hire you. 

Many people have sterling resumes, but terrible interview skills. Failing the interview can lead to long-term unemployment in many fields, so, if you need a job, you need to know how to prepare for a job interview. 

First, dress the part.

Most employers and HR companies can instantly tell when someone doesn't know how to prepare for a job interview by the clothing that they wear. This should be obvious, but it's not for many people out there. 

If you want to get a job quickly, you'll learn to dress like most others in your field. So, IT professionals tend to do well with business casual wear or a polo shirt with slacks. Writers tend to do well with slightly artsy clothing. Construction workers do well with jeans, work boots, and gloves. 

Not looking the part will cause most employers to immediately write you off as unprofessional — or just foolish. When in doubt, it's best to stay on the side of conservative and make sure that your clothing looks clean and stylish.

Research every company that you apply to before you sit in the room with them.

Many people know how to talk well, but don't know how to prepare for a job interview with more upscale companies. Bigger companies, as well as companies that are particularly discerning about their employee picks, often won't hire people who don't know much about the company they are applying to. 

The truth is that researching the company that you are interviewing with signals that you understand the protocol and have preparation skills. These tend to translate well in the workplace. So, even if you just lightly skim information about the company, researching before you come in is a wise choice. 

Brush up on etiquette.

Many, many people have blown job interviews because of their bad manners. Part of knowing how to prepare for a job interview is knowing that your manners and etiquette are part of what people are looking at when they look at candidates. 

The following things will probably help you get a job sooner rather than later: 

  • Treating everyone, including other applicants, like gold. Smile at them. Ask them how their day is, and make a point to hold open doors for them. In many offices, secretaries tell employers who was kind and who wasn't. 
  • A firm handshake and warm greeting. There are many employers that judge candidates by the quality of their handshake, even if it's a retro thing to do. 
  • Personal hygiene. No one will hire a candidate who is stinky during the interview. It shows no social awareness. 
  • Timeliness. Being on time is a huge chance at showing people your manners. It shows that you value their time. Many HR reps will not hire someone who is late but doesn't call to warn them of it, based on the principle alone. 

If you are nervous, rehearse and read up on interview questions.

Most people are totally nervous when they go to a job interview or even have a meeting with HR. That's okay, and that's totally normal — even expected. The fact is that HR reps tend to know that people are nervous, and typically will give a little bit of leeway for that. 

There are ways to improve your overall vibe in the interview room, and for some of us, learning how to prepare for a job interview involves learning to relax. Here are some of the best ways to reduce job interview anxiety, from someone who's been there: 

  • Rehearse your answers. Have a friend coach you, if you need help that badly. Most job interviews will have the same interview questions. If you get used to answering them before you sit in the chair, you will be able to answer things way more smoothly when you're in the seat. 
  • Remind yourself that you have the skills needed to get there. You, of all people, know you have great skills, right? Since you know you have good skills, stop worrying so much. You know your value, and if companies notice this, they will want to hire you. 
  • Consider using a relaxation process before the job interview. The night before, have a nice dinner. Get lots of sleep. Have a hot bath with a bath fizzy. Before you enter the venue, take a deep breath and say a mantra to yourself. You'll feel a lot more relaxed.
  • Remember, even if you are in dire financial straits, it's not the end of the world. If you have a car, you can still use Uber. If you have a library with internet access, you can freelance online. If all else fails, you can always join the army or do scrapping for a living. Options are everywhere if you look hard enough.
  • Lastly, understand it's not personal. Job interviews, if they don't lead to a hire, are not a rejection of you. It just means that they didn't see what you had to offer...and that a more compatible job is out there. 

Attitude is everything when you go in there. So, bring in the right attitude, and you will be able to get a job sooner rather than later. 

Lastly, prepare for life's curveballs.

Not every job interview is going to be a smooth flow. In fact, some of the moments in interviews can be pretty awkward — or even downright crushing. Here's how to prepare for a job interview's worst events:

  • You have a felony that they ask about. This is one of those moments where honesty and a lot of personal references can help. Sadly, if you have a felony, you probably will have to go through a lot more interviews before you get hired. 
  • The interviewer doesn't seem to like you. If you feel like the interviewer is cutting things short or worse, getting mean with you, it's okay to get up and politely leave the interview. If they ask you why you're leaving, tell them that you've changed your mind about the position. 
  • The interviewer hits on you or you see a really unsettling interaction. At this point, leaving is the best option. This isn't a job you want — and the best career advice you'll hear is to run before you sign your name on the dotted line. 
  • One of the people in the interview knows you, and not in a good way. Whether it's a bad ex or someone you bullied in high school doesn't matter. What matters is that you finish the interview and hope they take the high road. 

Remember, job interviews are about both parties finding compatibility. Much like with dating, not all matches are good ones, and it's important to find the right match for you. 

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