How to Prepare for an Interview: 10 Ways to Get Ready for Your Big Day

You've found the job and been chosen to come in for a meeting. Congrats! Now, here's how to prepare for an interview and give them a great first impression.

You’ve made it so far already.

You found a new job, applied for it, and successfully landed an interview opportunity! 🚀

Now, just pass this and that job is yours. 

But, are you worried that you won’t impress them in your interview? Perhaps this is your first job opportunity ever?

No problem at all.

In this guide, we’re going to go through all the steps you should follow on how to prepare for an interview. 💪🏽

(All these guidelines apply to internship interviews, as well!)

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1. Reread the Job Description

And then read it again!

The job description is the most important piece of information you have about the company, and it will play a vital role in your interview. From the duties you’ll perform to general points about your compensation, benefits, requirements, and company history, knowing the job description inside and out is crucial if you’re to be taken seriously.

At the interview, you’ll often be asked how you’ll be able to cope with and manage your new job duties. Rather than saying “hmmm, what will my duties be again?” studying the job description and committing it to memory will ensure you answer their questions professionally and without delay.

2. Research the Company

You should probably know a bit about the company you’re applying to before you go in and speak with the CEO, HR specialist, or other future colleague. Though you may not need this information in your interview, understanding the company culture, history, and goals allows you to craft and personalize your answers to better fit their tastes.

On top of that, it’s good practice to research a few of the company’s key people, including the founder, the president or CEO, and any person you believe may be a part of your interview. Armed with this information, you can ease tension, show off your enthusiasm for having the chance at being hired, and just generally impress them with your knowledge. For example, knowing the CEO is a climate activist, score a few points by mentioning the ways you’ve implemented to fight climate change, perhaps.

Also, if the company sells a particular product or service, give it a try. Getting even a little experience with their offerings will let you give some great feedback when the time arrives. Remember, knowledge is power!

Related Read: 7 Reasons to Research a Company Before & After Applying for a Job

3. Practice Common Interview Questions

One of the best answers for how to prepare for an interview is to practice common interview questions. Rather than wasting your time and theirs trying to think up replies on the spot, use your interview preparation time (the entire week before, if possible) to formulate some answers to the basic questions commonly asked at all interviews.

Common interview questions include:

  • Why do you want to work at this company?
  • Tell me a little bit about yourself.
  • What are your strengths?
  • What are your weaknesses?
  • What motivates or inspires you?
  • What do you do in your spare time?
  • How well will you be able to perform the job duties?
  • Why should we hire you?
  • Where do you see yourself in 5 years?

These questions normally fluster even the most unflappable among us, but practice beforehand will give make you look prepared and confident during your big meeting. Just remember—don’t rehearse a specific spiel! No one wants a robotic reply when they ask you interview questions. Read our guide on how to make an elevator speech, as they’re somewhat similar.

4. Hold a Mock Interview

If you have a willing friend or family member, ask them to give you a mock interview. Not only will you be able to practice the answers you came up with for the common interview questions above, but you’ll receive priceless feedback from that person about what you could improve. Mock interviews are more than just how to answer interview questions, so be aware of your body language, speech delivery, and tone of voice, as well.

Though they may not ask all the questions (or even any) that the hiring manager will ask you on your big day, just going through the motions of a pretend interview works wonders in your confidence and answer delivery.

5. Plan Out Your Big Day

Will there be any road closures on the day of your interview?

Do you know when the right bus or train will arrive?

Plan out your interview day the night before to have the best chance of arriving on time. Try to arrive at least 30 minutes early. Look up the address on Google Maps, and save the directions as a screenshot on your phone in case you have cellular service issues.

Back when I was interviewing for a job, I used to arrive to the area about an hour ahead of time. Then, I’d just sit in a nearby cafe and drink a decaf coffee (don’t stress out with too much caffeine!) and read through the job description once more. This way, I got there early enough to make up for any last-minute bathroom breaks, traffic detours, and other things which could have gotten in my way.

6. Proofread & Print Out Your Resume

It’s a best practice when learning how to prepare for interviews that you should print out your resume. Yes, even now, in 2020, it remains a good idea. Print out 5 copies of your resume and cover letter and store them in a folder in a briefcase or purse. Then, in case they’re not as prepared as you are, you can whip those resume copies right out for them. (Multiple copies just in case it becomes a group interview.)

Once you print out your resume and cover letter, proofread it once more to make sure there are no typos or factual errors. Doing this will also give you a refresher on your own professional background to help you answer those tough questions during your meeting.

7. Prepare Some Questions to Ask the Interviewer

An interview shouldn’t be an interrogation. It should be a two-way street. So, you should ask the interviewer questions as well.

Here are a few great questions to ask at an interview:

  • What will my day-to-day activities include?
  • What will I be expected to accomplish in the first month (or 3 months, 6 months, or year) after being hired?
  • Can you tell me more about the company culture?
  • Can you tell me more about my team and the people I’ll be working with?
  • What are the company’s upcoming plans, and how can I help you achieve them?

Don’t ask questions that have simple yes/no answers, but rather ones which will elicit longer, more detailed responses. Also, avoid any interview questions about money or compensation—you don’t want to turn them off!  

If you’re going to an internship interview, ask questions about the internship program and whether it may turn into a full position upon completion.

8. Bring the Right Items

You’ve printed out your resume and cover letter, but what else should you bring to an interview?

Stock your purse or briefcase with a few essentials. A pair of pens could be useful for signing any company documents or contracts (fingers crossed!). Paper or a notebook will let you take notes and increase your aura of professionalism. 

Take a few choice meds with you, such as aspirin for a last-minute headache or some Tums for that inopportune tummy ache. Pack some wipes to dab your face and hands if the commute will make you sweat. Finally, some breath mints or chewing gum, because, well, you know.

9. Set Out Your Clothes the Night Before

Don’t wait until the morning of your interview to decide what you’ll wear. Prep your outfit the night before to make sure they’re ready for you. Not only will you save that precious time in the morning, but you’ll be able to spot any stains, tears, or other defects in your suit, shirt, or skirt and take necessary action in advance.

Since you have extra time to prepare your interview outfit, get a friend or family member’s advice. Does this shirt go with that tie? Does everything fit right? A second opinion is always helpful when preparing for an interview.

10. Get Some Great Sleep

Interview preparation should end the night before your big day with a great 8 hours of sleep. Like an important international cheerleading competition or preparing for the SAT, getting good sleep the night before works wonders on your mood, memory, confidence, and performance.

Though you may be feeling anxious, try to avoid thinking about the interview coming up. Read a physical book to take your mind off things, and avoid using your phone, as the blue light will keep you up and alert. Finally, set three alarms for yourself just in case!

Well, those are our tips on how to prepare for a job interview. We hope it helps! Do you have any questions, feedback, or other tips on how to prepare for an interview? Let us know in the comment section below, and thanks for reading!

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Christian Eilers
Written By Christian Eilers
is a writer and expert on the topics of education, entrepreneurship, career advice, travel, and culture. On the Goodwall Blog, he covers topics including self-improvement, social impact, college preparation, career development, climate action, and more. Christian is originally from New York City and now resides in Kyiv, Ukraine after living in Warsaw, Poland for the past 4 years. At his desk, you're sure to find Pickwick, his Devon Rex cat, either attacking his fingers as he types or the monitor as the mouse pointer moves around.

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