How to Prepare for an Interview

“Before anything else, preparation is the key to success” -Alexander Graham Bell

When you walk into an interview, in a matter of seconds, the interview has made a decision on whether they believe you are prepared for the interview or you are winging it.  Which impression do you want to give?

Candidates who appear prepared for the interview are also more likely to seem prepared for the job.  There tends to be an aura of confidence and belief in their ability to do the job and work at the company.

On the other hand, there are some interviewees who seem like they have problems showing up on time, don’t seem to have their thoughts together, and can’t quite articulate their answers to basic questions.  What do you think the perception of these people is?  You guessed it.  The interviewer thinks that this person is incapable of doing the job and quickly decides not to hire this person.

Don’t let yourself come across as unprepared with your interviews.  Between your time, your emotions, and your future, there is a lot at stake in the interviews.  Here are some basic tips to help you prepare for the interview.

What you are going to wear

Decide ahead of time what you are going to wear.  If time permits, get your clothes professionally dry cleaned.  Not only will dressing right make you look better.  You will also feel better.  How you feel has a huge influence on the impressions that you give others.

You can be viewed as being more confident and even the right candidate for the job just because of how you are dressed, and this comes across as confidence in the interview process.

Remember to dress more nicely than the job requires.  Even if you are interviewing at a company where everyone wears t-shirts and flip flops, for the interview you should dress a few notches above how the people in the company dress.  When in doubt, wear a suit (men and women).   Better to hear “You will find that we are not formal hear” as opposed to feeling out of place because the person you are interviewing with is dressed in formal business attire while you feel underdressed.

What you want to say

How you prepare before the interview will make your more confident and give you an edge on getting the job

How you prepare before the interview will make your more confident and give you an edge on getting the job

As simple as this may sound, have an idea about the things that you are going to talk about.  Go through your resume and look at what is on it. Ask yourself, if the tables were turned and you were the one hiring and had a candidate with your credentials for the job, what would you ask that candidate?  Then jot down some notes based on the questions that may come up about your experience.

Have some notes ready to go based on your resume, and have some talking points on the important things that you want to convey.  This will make you more confident to answer questions that might come up and make you look more organized and articulate.

One word of advice is to not over think what you want to say.  Once I prepared myself for the dreaded question of “Why should we hire you for this position?” by developing a script for what to say.  Sadly, it went down hill the moment the question was asked, and I got so nervous about sticking with my self-created script.  I was awkwardly fumbling my words, and it was obvious to everyone in the room (it was a panel interview) that I was blowing my self-imposed “lines.”  Needless to say, I did not get that job.

How to get there

Have your route planned out.  Don’t wait for the day of the interview to put the location into your phone or your GPS.  You never know when life throws a curveball and suddenly the cell phone towers go out or the GPS satellites are not working.  Print or write out the directions or a map.

Aim to get to the location of the interview 10-15 minutes early and overbudget how much time it will take to get there time, especially when factoring in traffic.  Guess what….there is always traffic when you are in a hurry.  Then shoot to be checked in 5 minutes early.  You want to look organized but not desperate (getting there too early).

Although this is not always feasible, it is a good idea to do a scouting trip and drive by the location of the interview the day before.  That way you will confidently know where you are going and take a little stress out of the drive to the interview.

Who are you interviewing with

Oftentimes, you will be told who you are interviewing with when the interview is scheduled.  Knowing this can be invaluable.

Altough you might feel like a stalker for doing this, try looking the interviewer up on social media and on a Google search.  Oftentimes, you will find their interests (which you might have in come) as well as some of their background.

Avoid bringing up that you looked them up on the internet because it may make you look like a stalker.  However, you can do well by naturally and causally bringing up interests that you genuinely share with the interviewer.

Have your packet of things with you

When you go to the interview, have something to hold whether an organizer or padfolio.  This helps create a professional image and will give you something to do with your hands.

Before the interview, write out a list of questions that you want to ask.  Always ask questions in the interview.  You can use your research to give you ideas of things to ask.