How to Prepare For an Interview
Last updated November 22, 2022
Preparing for a job interview is an important part of the job search process. It can be stressful, but with enough preparation you will be able to approach your potential employer with confidence. Here’s what you can do before, during, and after the interview to help you towards success!
Before the interview
- Do your homework - The first step in any interview process is to research the company and the job that you’re applying to. It will help you prepare for interview questions about the company, and you can use this information to ask the interviewer your own questions about the company. Do your research in three parts, and ask yourself the following questions:
- About the company: What is unique about the company? What is their mission and values? You can find most of this information on the company’s website and (if they have one) their LinkedIn page.
- About the job: What is the role and responsibilities? What problems will this job need to solve? What skills is the company looking for in a candidate that you can match to your own strengths and qualifications? Make sure you read (and re-read) the job posting, and any materials the employer may have sent to you.
- About the interviewers: What is their position in the company? If offered the job, how might you work with them in your role? If the company has a website, you might find this information on the “Team” or “About Us” page. (Bonus tip: find them on LinkedIn!)
- What if I can’t find this information?: If you can’t find specific information online, or if the interview is for a job at a retail store, food chain, or a local mom and pop shop - it could be helpful to draw from your own experiences from interacting with this company. Have you ever been a customer at this business? If so, what has your experience been? This could also be a great opportunity to ask for more information about the company during the interview. For example, you can ask questions like: What is the story behind this company getting started? Does the business feel the same as when it got started? How has it changed?
- Prepare for common questions - While every job is different, there are common questions that may be asked in your interview, and knowing how to answer them is key in your preparation. Check out the Top Five Job Interview Questions for some examples!
- Prepare questions to ask - Typically, the last question an interviewer will ask is, “Do you have any questions for me?”. Job interviews are a mutual exploration - while the interviewer is trying to find if you’re the right fit for the job, you should be finding if the job is the right fit for you! Plan to ask 3-5 questions ahead of time - some may be answered during your interview, and you might think of new questions during the interview. Don’t know what to ask? Check out the Top Job Interview Questions to Ask an Interviewer!
- Practice, practice, practice! - Like every other skill, the more you practice the better you’ll be at it! Do a mock, or practice, interview to help you practice answering the most common interview questions out loud. You can practice with a friend or family member (in person or over the phone/video chat), and they can provide feedback about your answers. Doing a mock interview can also help calm your nerves and avoid scrambling your answers when it comes time for the real interview.
- Know what to bring (and what not to bring!) - If your job interview is in person, it’s important to know what to bring with you. We recommend bringing copies of your resume, a list of references, your list of questions to ask the interviewer, and a pen and paper to jot down any notes. It’s also important to know what to not bring with you, like your cell phone (or turn it off/silence it), headphones, gum, or anything else that may be distracting during the interview.
- Dress to impress! - Don’t wait until the last minute to figure out what to wear at your interview! Having an outfit ready the night before can help you avoid added stress on the day of your interview. Read our article on How to Look, Dress, and Feel Your Best in an Interview.
Day of the interview
- Get to the location early (if the interview is in person) - The last thing you want happening is being late to an interview! Whether you plan to take public transportation, walk, or drive to the interview location, make sure you have your route planned out and anticipate any delays. It’s best to be there at least 15 minutes early to give you enough time to find the interview room, and help calm any last-minute jitters.
- Phone or video interview? - Check out our Top Phone and Interview Tips!
- Pay attention to your body language - During an in-person or video interview, it’s important to be mindful of your body language and how you carry yourself, as specific types of body language can show the interviewer you’re excited for the job opportunity. Sitting or standing up straight, giving your interviewer a firm handshake, and making eye contact as you give your answers can help you seem engaged and confident.
- Ask for a business card or contact information - Before your interview ends, make sure to ask your interviewer(s) for their contact information if you don’t already have it. This will help when you send thank you notes after the interview!
After the interview
- Send a thank you note - No matter what kind of interview you have, be sure to follow up and send a thank you note to your interviewer (or multiple thank you notes if you had more than one interviewer). Use this time to show your gratitude for the opportunity, and highlight something good that stood out during your interview. This can be a physical thank you note - if you interviewed at a restaurant, you can even drop off the thank you note in person - or an email message to your interviewer.
Every job interview is different, but having a strategy in place is key to putting your best foot forward! Need help with your job search? Text #Jobs to 33-55-77 to connect with one of our jobs advisors!