How to prepare for a job interview

After sending out several applications for sport jobs or even just one for your dream career, you finally hear back! A moment of pure joy and happiness – until your eyes stop on the set date for your interview. You can already feel a slight pull in your stomach just thinking about it. Most of us are completely stressed out by the thought of a job interview – being put on a test to prove we are the right ones for the position. But more self-confidence can be achieved easily with a good preparation. If you start sorting everything out in advance, the interview won’t be as overwhelming and you’ll be more assure of yourself.

This checklist will help you focus on what you need to know and what to pack, so keep these steps in mind to rock your next interview!

At least 1 Week in Advance

Further Research about the employer

Knowing about your future employer is already a part of your application beforehand. Still, refresh your knowledge for the interview and go more into detail. It won’t be enough knowing about the industry they are in and what they do in detail. Inform yourself about their principles, hierarchies and important persona. Thanks to LinkedIn you could already gather information about your interviewer in advance.  Bigger companies also publish news about recent projects and future goals – know them to impress in your interview.

By the way, did you know that one of the most mistakes is that applicants don’t know what the business’ acronym actually stands for? Always know about the company’s name – it’s representing what they stand for!

Know the details of your future job

This is not only about the general tasks the position includes. Furthermore, you should already know whether your future job is part time or full time, if you’re going to work in a team or solo, whether it’s a leading position and so on. If not all of the details can be found in the job ad before, just call the HR department and ask for more info. This way, there won’t be any surprises during your interview.

Also, carefully revise the job ad. For sure they will ask you about all the requested qualifications. If you mentioned one of the requested skills in your cover letter that you actually are not really familiar with, now is the time to deal with it. When it comes to languages you always should be honest: would be bad if the Human Resources Manager welcomes you with “Buenos días, encantada de conocerle” and you can´t do much more than smile at her.

Common questions and answers

Every interviewer will try to catch you with some unusual questions. It’s fine if you take your time to answer these, even if they throw you off the track for a second – that’s what they are aiming for. This shouldn’t happen with regular questions though. If you are new to interviews, you can google common questions to prepare your answer in advance. This way, you’ll meet your interviewer with a lot more self-confidence and score with a great answer!

Know your own qualities

It’s hard to sell yourself, especially if you haven’t much experience in the new position. Unfortunately, a job interview will only succeed if you manage to do so. The key is to know about your unique skills and talk about them without bragging. In fact, finding out your own worth is a key factor to impress an interviewer. For a little help, we wrote this blog about how you can learn about your own worth.

Prepare your outfit

Dress for success – you probably have heard about this before. Nevertheless, it doesn’t mean to suit up. Especially in the sports industry, the right outfit can be casual as well. That depends on the company’s principles.
If you have a chance, find out about the dress code beforehand – take a small visit to the company or ask an acquittance who works there. Seeing employee’s profiles on LinkedIn might also give you a hint.  See if you have one, better two, fitting outfits in your closet. If not, buy one in time. Doing this as early as possible will help you being prepared perfectly. You’ll still have enough time to sort out any problems like stains or holes or worst, a bad smell. Imagine doing this on the evening before your interview: You’ll freak out finding a new one, even when the shops are still open.

More infos on what to wear in a job interview can be found in our blog What to wear in a job interview.

Know your worth

Find out about  the common salary for your job. This depends on your location, the size of the company and the position itself. There are great portals online to do your research, i.e. Glassdoor. Moreover, know for yourself what you would like to earn – and what the least salary would be. This is also regarding holidays and working hours.

A couple of days before your interview

Check out the directions and do a test-run

It is incredible how many people are too late for their job interview – it’s a common mistake and most of the times, already the end of the beginning. Don’t rely on GPS only, there could be a traffic jam, road closure or whatever. So, check out the route before and best, see how long it really takes for you to get there.
For people using public transport: Find out which would be the comfortable connection to be there in time* – and note down the one before this one to take on your interview day. Even if you miss one, you’ll still be there spot on.

*Just so we’re clear: In time doesn’t mean in the last moment, it means a comfortable arrival a little bit earlier.

Writing down your own questions

When you feel prepared about the questions that might come up, find out for yourself what you want to know about the job and the company. The interviewer will expect you to ask – it shows curiousness about the employer. See it as a sign you really want the job.
By the way, you don’t have to wait until the end of the interview to ask. If it fits the brought up topic, ask your question – the interview will be more like a dialogue.

Do a test interview with a friend

See this as a chance for a rehearsal. It will boost your confidence and help you talk more natural in your interview.

On the day of your interview – one hour in advance

Last time: Check your appearance

So, this is actually two points. First, check yourself again before you leave home to head for your interview. Control if your outfit is stain free and suits you well, that you smell good (don’t overdo it with perfume), brush your teeth – to sum up: Dress for success.  When possible, try to arrive 10 minutes earlier at the company to make another quick checkup. Especially when you’re living in a big city and came by bus, train, sub, you’ll be happy to be able to re-arrange your outfit or hair.

Don’t smoke!

Seriously, even if you’re a smoker, try not to smoke after you put on your outfit and brushed your teeth. Smelling like smoke is a turn-off – not only for a date, but also for an interview. Especially, when the person interviewing you is a non-smoker. We all know that you’ll need the cigarette even more on this important day to calm your nerves, but try to stay strong. Chew (nicotine) gum during your drive.
By the way, having coffee short before has a similar effect – bad breath. So if you’ll need it, at least bring mint. Or better, avoid it after brushing your teeth.

Mute your phone

Seriously, a ringing phone will feel embarrassing for you and it will be disrespectful for your interviewer. Also one of the common mistakes.

Try to relax

The last things to prepare short before your drive should be small things, anything else should already be prepared. The interview itself will already stress you out, so no need to push it even more by nerv wrecking last minute preparations. Take your time before you head out to calm your nerves instead. Listen to your favorite songa, phone with a friend, meditate, go for a walk, whatever brings you down. We know that this is probably the hardest point on this whole checklist, but go for it anyway. You are so well prepared!

What to pack

Your Resumé / Application

Taking your application documents to an interview makes a good impression – it shows that you are prepared well. Also, it will be a great help if questions regarding your experience come up. You can always easily point to your CV, having your milestones set up written down for everyone to see.
The HR sure will bring her own copy, but in bigger companies,  sometimes an additional employees will join the interview, for example your team or project leader.

Just don’t stash it in your bag! To make a good impression, bring your resumé in a folder so it will stay neat and clean. Stains on your documents or dog-ears are an absolute no-go!

Pen and Paper – or if it’s a modern company, a Tablet

If you bring something to take notes during your interview, you’ll show interest in your – hopefully – future employer. Furthermore, you’ll probably need it as well. There’ll be a lot of details about the job that you will want to note down for later. Of course, you’ll be sure that you can remember it all – but seriously, you won’t. Especially when you’re nervous.

Nowadays, in most companies it will be okay as well if you take notes on a tablet. Especially in modern companies or agencies, this will actually be a big plus as you show your interest in modern media. This is a shout out especially for people interested in a job in sport online marketing or IT!
Conservative companies still prefer pen and paper though.

An extra shirt / blouse

Ever heard of murphy’s law? In the worst moment for something to go possibly wrong, it will go wrong. Translated: If you don’t bring an extra shirt, you’ll probably spill something on the one you’re wearing.
In a young and small start-up your interviewers will probably laugh it off, but in any bigger company a clean outfit is a must. Dress to impress.

All the small things

Mints, tissues, water for the journey, a comb or a brush, make-up for the ladies (for a retouch), a phone in case you’ll be late, the number of the company. Do you feel prepared yet? Perfect! Read about the right behavior in the interview itself, in the next blog.

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