Up your interviewing game with this foolproof guide.

You've applied for a position and recently scheduled an interview. That's truly something to celebrate, but now what? What are the best next steps as you prepare for your next meeting with a prospective employer? At this point in the process, a prospective employer has already reviewed your application and resumé. Congrats! You have impressed them with your skills and experience to make it to the next level: the interview.

The unemployment rate in the United States peaked at 14.7-percent in April 2020. While the rate has steadily declined since then, job seekers want to be ready for the next interview. Intentionally taking the time to prepare for the interview will deliver results. Set yourself up for success by paying attention to the little and big things alike such as arriving on time for the interview. Be sure to avoid these red flags as well.

Engage With a Healthy Mindset

It's understandable and even expected to be nervous while preparing for and walking into an interview. Channel those nerves into a level of excitement for the possibility. Approach the interview as a two-way conversation. Of course, the prospective employer is deciding whether or not to extend an offer to you. Though remember, you're also deciding whether or not you'd accept an offer. Be prepared to interview the prospective employer as well.

Without a crystal ball, you have no way of knowing the outcome of this next interview. Whether or not you receive an offer or an invitation to continue the interview process, be thankful for the experience as you learn more about the interview process and about yourself within each step. A healthy mindset can help settle your nerves and give you healthy confidence to proceed.

Do Your Research

You already know enough about the company to have applied, but what sets this company or organization apart from other employers? Do they provide avenues to give back to the local community? Are they known for their casual or professional atmosphere? What is the organization's core values, and how do they play out on a weekly basis? What sets this company apart from its competitors? Why are you interested in working at this company? Researching these topics will provide you with talking points for your interview and sets you apart as someone genuinely interested.

Practice, Practice, Practice

Yes, really! Especially if it's been a while since your last interview, ask a friend or a family member to engage in a practice interview. Whether in person or via video conference, take the time to run through your answers to typical interview questions (from Monster.com). Go a step further and ask your friend or family member to craft and ask a few "curveball" questions as well. Following the practice interview, debrief strengths as well as ways you can improve.

Be prepared with answers to questions regarding how you define success, a past failure, how you handle conflict, navigating change, and long-term future plans. Brainstorm answers to a few unique questions as well, such as: something interesting about you not listed on your resumé, the last book you read, or a recent tech hack you've implemented. Your answers to interview questions should go beyond stating your skills or experience. Don't be shy as you share how you achieved success for a previous employer by completing specific tasks. Employers are looking for more information about you: your personality, time management skills, team interaction, troubleshooting skills, and ability to adapt to new technology in the process.

Know the Venue in Advance

  • In Person: Locate the office location and even stop by to observe time-sensitive situations like available parking or elevators being serviced (requiring you to walk up multiple flights of stairs).
  • Via Video Conference: Confirm the conferencing platform and test your computer's speakers, microphone, and webcam beforehand. Especially if you're new to video conferencing, setup a meeting with a friend to experience what it's like to talk via computer screen. Here are some helpful dos and don'ts of interviews via Zoom

Check Your Appearance Right Before the Interview

  • In Person: Arrive in time to use the bathroom beforehand. Wash your hands well and check the mirror for hair out-of-place or something stuck in your teeth. Smile at yourself in the mirror. Yes, really!
  • Via Video Conference: Take a quick look at yourself in the mirror and look for distractions in the background of your webcam view. Join the interview two to five minutes early to test audio and video and to make any necessary adjustments.

There are plenty of things to do as you prepare for your next interview. Now that you're ready, go and enjoy this next step of the process.