Crushing the job interview is one of the biggest hurdles to securing a great job. You want to appear laid back but professional, prepared but not too eager, well-dressed but not trying too hard, yourself but only your best self.
It’s hard to balance everything just right, on top of the nerves and the on-the-spot questions. That's why we put together these tips for preparing for your next interview. It's possible to come to an interview with confidence when you follow these steps to prepare.
Tips for preparing for your interview: Knowing the basics
1. Practice your answers to common questions.
It’s easy to find lists of common interview questions online, so start rehearsing. Plan for even the hardest questions.
2. Take care of the logistics of the morning-of.
Know where you’re going and how long it takes to get there. Plan your route and what time to leave. Test the video streaming platform you'll be using if the interview is remote.
3. Come up with a few great questions to ask.
The interview should always go both ways. Think of smart questions that will tell you more about the company or role. Here are 93 that will actually tell you about the job.
4. Plan your outfit in advance.
Try on a professional interview outfit the night before so you’re not scrambling. Wear something comfortable that makes you feel confident.
5. Be prepared to turn on the enthusiasm.
It should always be clear that you want the job. Don’t try to act aloof.
6. Print out your resume.
Having hard copies is always a nice touch.
7. Review your resume and cover letter again.
These may be referenced by the interviewer, and they could give you ideas for interview answers.
8. Get there early (but not too early).
Plan to get to the interview location 10-15 minutes early, not before. You don’t want to be waiting there for a long time with all your nerves building up.
9. Plan how you will follow up after the interview.
How will you send your thank-you note? What will it say?
10. Bring something to write on (and with).
Taking notes helps you appear prepared and enthusiastic.
11. Practice your speaking voice in front of the mirror.
The more you practice your answers, the more confident you’ll be. Deep breaths.
12. Practice answering questions with a friend for feedback.
It helps to practice with a real human, not just your cat. Friends or family members will notice things you haven’t.
13. Do something relaxing before the interview.
Going for a walk, meditating, talking to someone on the phone, or listening to music can help you ease your nerves and prepare to be awesome.
Tips for preparing for your interview: Knowing the role and the company
14. Read through the job description and responsibilities thoroughly.
You need to know the post inside and out. You might even bring a copy to reference in the interview. Look for red flags in the job description to ask about during the interview.
15. Research the company.
Do plenty of research on the place you’re interviewing. What are their values? How big is the company? How long have they existed? What’s cool about them?
16. Prepare to ask questions about the company’s approach to diversity.
The interviewer should be able to tell you the basics of their diversity initiatives, if they have them. Here are 10 great questions to help you suss out the company's support of diversity, equity, and inclusion.
17. Go beyond company basics, like researching DEI initiatives, with a rating tool like InHerSight.
You need to know what priorities the company has. Explore ratings on InHerSight or these four other company reviews platforms.
18. Be specific about your interest in the company and role.
Relate your answers to the specifics about this position.
19. Research the interviewer.
Don’t forget to find out information about the person you’re meeting with. This can help you make connections in the moment.
20. Prepare questions about the company’s culture and work environment.
Make sure it’s a good fit by asking the interviewer work culture questions, too. These questions will make you sound like a genius.
21. Align your responses to who you think the company is and wants to hire (without being fake).
How are your priorities similar?
22. Look at social media to learn more about the company.
An online presence can tell you a lot about what they care about most and who they interact with.
23. Find out if you have any connections to the company via LinkedIn.
If you have anyone in common, reach out to learn more about the company or to have them put in a good word.
Tips for preparing for your interview: Knowing yourself
24. Know your salary goals.
You’ll probably be asked what you want to make at some point. Don’t be afraid to say what you want or need, as long as it’s appropriate for the role.
- What Is Considered a Good Salary?
- Salary History: Where Asking Is Illegal, Why & How to Redirect the Conversation
25. Think of your three selling points.
What makes you stand out above all? What are the points you can’t forget to hit?
26. Plan how to address anything the interviewer might have reservations about.
Aka, be ready to explain a long break between jobs. Learn how to make any employment gap sound good.
27. Leave the jokes at home.
Now’s probably not the time to take a risk with a quip, especially when you don’t know the interviewer. Initiate meaningful small talk instead.
28. Practice being assertive and confident, but not arrogant.
It’s a delicate balance, but focus on being professional and self-assured.
29. Tell yourself not to downplay your accomplishments.
Remember that it’s okay to emphasize how great you are at the work you do. Make sure you understand the business case for the work you do.
30. Prepare to never talk negatively about anyone else.
Even if you hated your boss, this is a no. Period.
31. Prepare your answer to “Tell me about yourself.”
This is one of the most common opening questions. Include compelling details, but relate everything back to the role.
32. Practice body language.
The way you hold yourself matters for first impressions. Practicing how you’ll hold your hands can help you avoid looking tense or nervous.
33. Come up with a few specific scenarios.
How have you handled conflict or problems in the past, related to the job at hand? Practice the STAR Method when answering questions.
34. Think about what kind of work arrangement you’re open to (remote, hybrid, 100% in-person).
You may be asked your preferences. Do you have any deal-breakers?
35. Pull together some numbers.
Consider coming up with solid percentages that show specific accomplishments in past roles.
36. Write down your professional goals for the next five years.
Knowing this answer gets the wheels turning on what you really want. This could be an interview question, too. Here are a few professional development goals you can pursue right now.