It's never too early to start honing your interview skills. Even if you have no interviews in sight. Even if you're in a solid job that you don't plan to leave soon. No matter where you are in your career, solid interview skills will serve you well right now--and putting them into practice over the next months will set you up for success when you do score an interview for the job of your dreams. Plus, starting early helps cut down on the night-before-a-big-interview panic, because you'll know you're well-prepared for whatever the interviewer throws at you.
1. Nonverbal Communication
If you've ever taken a speech class, you've heard about the importance of body language. But you might not be taking it seriously enough. Making it your business to become an expert at nonverbal communication can impact all areas of your life--not just your job interviews.
In her Ted talk called Your Body Language Shapes Who You Are, social psychologist Amy Cuddy makes it clear that your body language does more than present an image to the world. It's not just acting. Standing up straighter, mastering a firm handshake, and squaring your shoulders (among other things), can actually change the way you think of yourself--and influence the person you become.
7 Steps to Improving Nonverbal Communication, Psychology Today
2. Craft Your Story
You can never be sure just what an interviewer is going to ask, but it's pretty much always safe to assume that you'll hear some version of the classic "tell me about yourself!"
Covering the bare facts is boring: "I majored in IT at the University of Awesomeness and really have a passion for the tech industry, which you can see from x, y, and z on my resume." Telling the interviewer about how you scrimped and saved to buy your first computer, then taught yourself to code when you were in high school, turns the facts into a story--and (hopefully) makes you a memorable personality.
Don't get too long-winded here, but add enough personal detail that you don't sound like a text-to-speech app reading your resume to the interviewer. It doesn't hurt to write down what you want to say, word for word, in advance. You don't have to memorize it exactly, but knowing how you'll get started and transition between ideas is huge. Then practice your spiel--over and over if you have to--and try it out on friends and family, tweaking it along the way. It might feel like overkill, but getting your Story Statement down ahead of time will save you a lot of sweat and verbal clutter when you're in the chair.
Good Ways to 'Tell Me About Yourself,' The Ladders
What To Say When You Talk About Yourself, The Introvert Entrepreneur
How to Answer 'Tell Me About Yourself' In An Interview, U.S. News & World Report
3. Become a Master of Research
Before you step into an office for an interview, you need to be very, very familiar with the company you're hoping will hire you. Venture well beyond their home page and read about their founders, the non-profit organizations they back, and the history behind their current initiatives. Find out how they're doing financially, stalk them on social media to see how they engage with their community, and familiarize yourself with their competitors.
You won't use all this information in your interview, but having the information on hand ahead of time will help you respond more insightfully to interview questions, and your understanding of their concerns will set you apart from the crowd.
What to Know About a Company Before You Interview, Careerbuilder
Obviously these aren't the only interview skills you'll need to worry about; being polite, dressing appropriately, and sending a thank-you email afterward are also huge steps in the right direction, but hopefully you won't need large chunks of time to master those. Instead, focus on the skills you can build today--both relevant job skills and interview skills--and your competence will impress even yourself!