How to Prepare for an Interview

What differentiates the people who get the job from those who don’t?

The answer is simple: proper interview preparation.

When you prepare for an interview, you are giving yourself a leg-up against the competition.

Not only that, but preparing for an interview will help decrease jitters, boost confidence, and more.

So, let’s walk through the interview preparation process to ensure you nail your next interview!

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Download Your Free Career Search Spreadsheet

First, be sure to download this great free career spreadsheet to help stay organized.

This Ultimate Career Search Freebie includes 10 game-changing spreadsheets! It even includes a complete interview preparation checklist and worksheet to ensure you don’t miss any step or common interview question.

Outfit Check

Next, you’ll want to do a quick outfit check. Especially if you are short on time!

Try on your outfit and shoes and make a quick plan for your hair and makeup.

If something doesn’t fit or is missing, run to the store before they close.

Drive to the Interview Location Beforehand

A few days before the interview, take a drive to the interview site.

Try to arrive at the time you expect to arrive on the day of the interview.

Use a stopwatch to time the drive (be sure to account for traffic), become familiar with the parking situation and take a look around the building to become comfortable with the area.

This will help decrease jitters and ensure you arrive on time on the day of the interview.

Research the Company

Take at least 15 minutes (more if you have the time) to research the company. Take notes if you can.

Use this research to incorporate into your question and answer preparations.

Be sure to check out the following:

  • Company Website
  • Social Media (including LinkedIn)
  • Recent News Articles (a simple internet search should help with this)
  • Company Mission Statement and Values
  • Current or Recent Projects Completed by the Company
  • Company Competitors

Create a List of Questions

Using your company research notes, create a list of questions for the interviewers.

Then, move on to the job listing description and add any additional questions you might have.

Really think about what you truly want to know about the job or company.

Ask yourself this: if I were offered the job, what would I want to know before making my decision to accept?

Salary Research

If you haven’t done so already, research and determine the salary range you are expecting.

There are several websites that can help you with this, but I suggest starting with a simple internet search.

Physical Document Preparation

Next, be sure to prepare your physical documents and anything else you need to bring to the interview.

For example, you might want to consider bringing extra copies of your resume or a physical portfolio.

This is also the time to prepare anything unique the interviewers have requested, such as a full presentation.

Mental Portfolio Preparation

One of my favorite interview tricks is to prepare a mental portfolio. This is basically a memorized list of your completed projects and achievements you can use for easy reference.

How do you prepare your mental portfolio?

Create a new document on your computer (or just use this premade free spreadsheet), and spend some time brainstorming every single project, interesting work story, and achievement.

Add dates, important details, and any relevant information to each one.

Then, use flashcards to memorize the list.

This will not only help you brainstorm answers for prepared interview questions but will also help you have an arsenal of answers for unexpected questions during the interview.

Tip: Try to come up with a STAR example for each mental portfolio topic

The STAR method means that, while explaining your example, you do each of the following:

  • Situation: Describe the situation or event that took place.
  • Task: Explain the task you had to do, making sure to highlight the given challenges, constraints, and other issues.
  • Action: Describe what action you took to complete this task (or overcome the challenge), making sure to highlight skills such as leadership, communication, and problem-solving.
  • Result: End the example with the resulting outcome of your action, making sure to highlight improvements, achievements, and awards.

Prepare and Practice Common Interview Questions

Take a look at the most common interview questions and prepare your answers, using your mental portfolio for ideas and inspiration. Here is a list of questions to get you started.

Be sure to use key phrases from the job description as well as the company’s mission statement and values.

Once you’re done, add them to a set of flashcards and practice, practice, practice!

Once your answers are memorized, practice with a friend or family member.

Then practice some more!

Also, be sure to practice your unused examples from your mental portfolio, in case any are needed.

Related: How to Answer the Most Common Interview Questions

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Practice Self Care

Don’t forget to incorporate self-care into your downtime.

This will help you relax, de-stress, and ensure your best self shows up on interview day.

Here are some self-care ideas to try:

Related: 24 Amazing Self-Care Ideas that Melt the Stress Away

Get Pumped Up!

Boost your confidence by pumping yourself up.

Listen to your favorite music, dance in your bedroom, sing in the shower, hold a power pose, use affirmations, or visualize yourself being offered the job.

These little tricks can really make a difference!

Make Plans for After the Interview

Finally, make plans for just after the interview.

This might be a lunch date with a friend, an ice cream date with yourself, or a quick trip to the local bookstore to pick up a new book as a reward.

This way, no matter how the interview goes, you have something to look forward to afterward.

Tips for Interview Day Jitters

Do you find that nerves get in the way of your big day?

I’m the exact same way.

Here are some of the top tips to help in interview day jitters:

  • Prepare for the interview (if you’re reading this, you’re already there!)
  • Remember that an interview is a two-way street, the interviewers are deciding if they want to choose you, and you are deciding if you want to choose them
  • The world will not end if you don’t get the job, so don’t put pressure on yourself as if it were
  • Instead of focusing on the interview, focus on self-care
  • Practice calming breathing techniques to use just before and during the interview
  • Have a problem with sweaty palms? Try sweat-reducing lotion. It really does work, but be prepared for really dry hands for the rest of the day. This is the one I use.
  • Similarly, don’t forget to wear an undershirt
  • Plan a big reward or activity to get your mind off things afterward
  • Eat a healthy and filling breakfast
  • Practice positive self-talk and re-work your thinking (instead of saying “I’m not qualified for this role,” say “I would be an asset to this company because of ____. I’m a rockstar!”)

Build Your Interview Secret Powers

In addition to being prepared, there are several other ways to help ensure you land the job.

I call these tips the Interview Secret Powers.

If you’ve read How to Win Friends and Influence People, you know exactly what I’m talking about.

Subtle body language changes and conversation tweaks can subconsciously make a person like you, turning a that-was-just-okay interview into an I-need-to-hire-them-now interview.

A few of my favorite Interview Secret Powers include pivoting toward the person speaking, making eye contact (but not too much), nodding your head, smiling, not crossing your arms or legs, and giving appropriate compliments.

If you really want to build your Interview Secret Powers, I can’t recommend reading (or at least skimming) How to Win Friends and Influence People, it really is a game-changer.

Top Career Development Books

Speaking of awesome books, here are a few other great career-related reads that will help you on your path to career success!

Further Reading

Finally, here are a few related blog posts to help you in your career:

There you have it. The complete list of tips and tasks to help you prepare for an interview. I hope you have found this helpful. Good luck with your interview, I know you will CRUSH it!

Learn how to prepare for an interview with this ultimate checklist. From the top questions and answers, to company research tips, you will be sure to be completely prepared for the big day! Grab your free career worksheet and spreadsheet to easily get started.

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