In the days leading up to an important job interview, there is a lot of preparation that needs to take place so that you can be adequately prepared. You should have your interview attire already planned out, and you should have extra copies of your resume ready to go. You should also have done extensive preparation for the types of questions that are likely to be asked of you. Some people might say that it is pointless to prepare responses to interview questions beforehand because you can never be certain about what you will be asked. However, even if you do not necessarily know what specifically will be asked, you can still have adequate preparation by writing down a job interview prep sheet.
A prep sheet allows you to focus on skills and experiences that will be relevant to the position you are applying for. In the job posting you found, there must be qualifications mentioned that the hiring manager has explicitly stated are needed of someone in this job. These characteristics might include "team leader," "self-initiative," "works well with others," or anything else. Although you do not have to have every single trait to be considered for the job, you should be able to show that you possess a good number of those attributes and that you are working to attain the others.
Making Your Prep Sheet
Writing down your sample responses is much better at actually retaining the information than simply thinking about it, so when making your prep sheet you are going to want to get ahold of an actual piece of paper. Divide the paper into three columns. The top of the left column should be "Position Requirements." The top of the column in the middle needs to be "Your Qualifications and Experiences." Finally, the header of the right column should be, "Your Stories."
Under "Position Requirements," you need to write the qualifications specifically listed in the job description. There may even be a bulleted list in the job listing that tells you exactly what traits you need to succeed at this company. Once you have all that information, the middle column should contain your experiences demonstrating that trait or qualifications in how you gained that trait in the first place. For example, if a job posting says that they are looking for someone who can lead, you would want to write, "Leader" in the left column, and then in the middle column, you would write any leadership experiences you had at past jobs.
The final column is the most important. During an interview, every applicant is going to say that he or she is a leader, but you need to be able to back that assertion up with evidence. This is where "Your Stories" comes into play. In addition to saying that you led a special team at your previous place of employment, you should have a story ready to tell describing how you came to be the leader, what obstacles were in your way to achieve your goal, how you were able to overcome those roadblocks and how you ultimately benefitted the organization. Stories are great for job interviews because they give the hiring manager a much clearer sense of who you are as a person and that you mean it when you say that you have the skills necessary to excel.
What to Do If You Lack a Skill
There will most likely be a dozen, if not more, qualifications listed on a job description, so do not panic if you are missing one or two. Chances are good that other applicants lack a few skills as well, so simply focus on the characteristics you do possess that make you well-qualified for the position. If you are able to adequately articulate the experiences you have gained that demonstrate your personal traits, then the interviewer will get the sense that you will be able to learn the other qualifications as you go along.
Going into job interviews can be stressful enough as it is, so keeping track of a job interview prep sheet might just feel like one more thing to do. However, you will be so grateful in the interview if you have prepared responses to common questions. Interviewers want to see that you are able to talk about yourself positively, so being able to bring up relevant and intriguing stories about your past experiences is certain to impress a potential employer.