The 14 key ways to prepare for before, during, and after a job interview in 2021

Closeup shot of two unrecognisable businesspeople shaking hands in an office
An interview is a multi-step process.
  • It's obvious that the more prepared you are for an interview, the likelier you are to get the job.
  • There are things you should bear in mind for post-interview too, however.
  • Experts suggest you need to know the difference between listening and active listening.
  • See more stories on Insider's business page.

While job interviews are a great opportunity to move your life in a different direction, to work for someone new, to get back in the market, or push forward with your career, they can be pretty stressful.

An interview is a multi-step process that begins the moment you send a resume, ending only when you say goodbye to your interviewer.

Successful interviewing entails thorough preparation, mastering your own body language, and controlling your emotions so everything goes smoothly.

These are some of the most important points to keep in mind before, during, and after job interviews, as well as the most commonly asked questions, and how to communicate with the recruiter in an effective and convincing way.

The first thing you need to do is ensure you bring a physical copy of your updated resume, that you prepare an excellent cover letter, and that you review all the following key points.

1. Make sure you know what the job entails

If you've sent out a lot of resumes, you should make sure you've analyzed the job description.

Write down the reasons why you are interested in the position, memorize what the company is looking for in the candidate and write a list of your qualities, skills, strengths, and weaknesses.

Above all, focus on the roles you have already performed in similar positions or on the virtues that make you the ideal person for the vacancy.

During the interview, you should link your skills with the requirements of the position.

2. Gather as much information as you can

Review the company's website, browse its blog, and social media - especially the most corporate ones, like Twitter or LinkedIn.

Take a look at the news, main products, or services, organization chart, image, corporate culture or philosophy.

This helps you show that you're prepared and you've done your homework.

3. Rehearse the questions

Doing mock interviews with a friend or family member, practicing in front of the mirror, and doing trial and error tests will calm you down and give you more self-confidence, help to reduce your anxiety before the interview, and to answer more fluently.

4. Practice body language

The mirror is your greatest ally when learning to control your body language.

Upright posture, facial expressions, eye contact, or hand movements are all fundamental.

Try to control your nervous tics, don't play with objects or get distracted, show empathy and self-control, and try not to avoid the recruiter's gaze.

Never keep your arms crossed or your posture slouched.

A meta-analysis, which compiled the results of about 50 different studies, suggests that the five best body language gestures to make a good impression are the following: smiling, maintaining eye contact, laughing, limited physical closeness, and subtle imitation of the other person's gestures.

5. Prepare your outfit

You should have your clothes ready the night before.

Choose a discreet, comfortable, clean, and sharp look depending on the features of the company.

A bank is not the same as a marketing startup, for example.

In any case, you should at least try to convey a positive image and, depending on the role, choose a more casual or more formal look.

6. Write down the address

Make sure to jot down the address and arrive 10 or 15 minutes early in case anything happens.

7. Introduce yourself appropriately

During the interview, pay attention to body language, maintain eye contact and a friendly and approachable tone, and be polite but without being distant or coming across as overbearing.

You need to try to create a positive first impression, sit upright without slouching, show that you're listening, and display enthusiasm and interest at all times.

8. Actively listen during the interview

It's important to be dynamic and interactive in a job interview, so you shouldn't t be afraid to put questions to your interviewer.

You should try to make your interest in being an active part of the company clear.

If you get stuck at any point, simply take a deep breath and pick up the conversation where you left off.

9. Be natural

Put your best communication skills into practice, without sounding automatic or robotic.

Don't be afraid to explain the most interesting parts of your resume in detail, and try to connect with your interviewer.

10. Accept a drink

You should also try to accept a glass of water if offered.

11. Say a proper goodbye

Once you've ended the interview, you should thank the interviewer for their interest and the opportunity.

Be polite, ask when and how you will have results of the job selection process and if you have the opportunity, review and emphasize the reasons why you would give your best and be delighted to accept the position offered by the company.

12. Thank your interviewer

You can thank your interviewer for their interest by sending a thank you email a few days later.

It's generally not recommended to openly ask about the salary in a job interview, however.

Take the opportunity to express your excitement about being hired and your eagerness to start working. If you're involved in several employment processes, you can use a template and customize it according to the application.

13. Follow up a few days later

When a week or a few days have passed, you should pro-actively get back in touch with the company to express your interest in knowing the results of the process.

You could also use a template for this.

14. Keep your head up

If you don't get the job, keep updating your resume, looking for suitable offers, and scouring portals in search of offers that match your profile.

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