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You felt like a great fit for the position, but suddenly, the moment you shook hands with the recruiter, the confidence faded away. Words wouldn’t make sense, and the questions just exhausted you. Plus, that coffee stain that wasn’t there this morning.
All of this could’ve been avoided.
Learn how to prepare for an interview, and turn those stressful meetings into enjoyable chats.
This guide will show you:
- Expert advice on how to prepare for an interview for any job.
- What you should do before an interview to feel confident during the meeting.
- How to prepare for interview questions, so even the “clever” ones don’t surprise you.
Want to land more job interviews? A great resume that highlights your strengths and experience can significantly improve your chances of being invited to one. Create the perfect resume in our builder—just start by choosing the template you like.
Sample resume created in our builder—check more resume examples here..
Need other interview tips? See these guides:
- Ultimate Interview Tips and Tricks
- Behavioral Interview Questions
- "Tell Me About a Time" Interview Questions
- Best Informational Interview Questions
- Zoom Interview Tips
- STAR Method Interview
- 30 Internship Interview Questions and Answers
- 40 Interview Questions for Managers
How to Prepare for an Interview
- Check the job description and requirements.
- Review your resume and work experience.
- Research interview questions for your position.
- Learn about the company and the interviewer.
- Prepare your introduction in advance.
- Plan your appearance and get your clothes ready.
- Pack all necessary things.
- Plan your route and get there on time.
- Control your stress levels.
- Follow up with a thank-you email.
These steps sound relatively easy. But how exactly do you complete all of them? Read on and learn how to prepare for a job interview in detail. I’ll explain each step!
1. Check the Job Description and Requirements
You emailed your resume to 20 companies, and you got lucky—five of them invited you for an interview! But now, sitting in the hall just before the meeting, you realize you don’t remember the position offered or the posted salary.
Is this how you prepare for interviews? Certainly not! It’s crucial to check the job advertisement.
This is how to read the job offer in detail:
- Remember the name of the position: It may sound silly, but it’s actually pretty easy to forget the exact job title.
- Review the job description: It’s important to understand what exactly the job involves. Focus on responsibilities, working hours, and conditions. For example, if you count on working from home, make sure that the job posting mentions it, as the rate of employees working remotely is decreasing in the US.
- Examine the job requirements: The interviewer wants to make sure you’re a good fit for the job. They will definitely ask you questions related to the required experience and skills. You must prepare yourself to prove you possess all of them.
- Check the starting date: You don’t want to go to an interview and realize the job starts in 10 months, especially if you need it now.
- Review the benefits: Over 20% of job candidates decline a job offer because the proposed wage is too low. If the salary is posted, make sure it’s acceptable to you. If not, it’s best to learn about it as soon as possible.
If some things aren’t clear after reading the ad, write them down. It’s good to ask questions during the interview—they show you’re interested in the position.
Pro Tip: Try to find out if this position was posted on other job portals—don’t rely on a single ad. Companies often post on several boards, and there might be differences between each. You can also learn if this position was advertised in the past. That might also give you more information about the position and the company.
2. Review Your Resume and Work Experience
A one-size-fits-all resume is a thing of the past. If you successfully applied for a job and got invited to an interview, there’s a pretty good chance your resume was curated specifically for the job offer. Now it’s time to have a close look at it again. Especially considering that many recruiters ask candidates to give a walkthrough of their resume.
When reading your resume, focus on:
- Highlights of your career: Consider carefully what your top achievements are. Why are they valuable to you? What did you do to accomplish them? Many interviewers ask about the candidate’s biggest achievement, so be prepared to talk about it. It’s best to use the STAR method to describe your accomplishments.
- Work history: Review the companies you worked for. What were your job responsibilities? What did you like about the managers? Did you get along well with your colleagues? Were there any issues in those workplaces? Why did you leave those jobs? That’s how to prepare for interview questions related to your work experience.
- Gaps: You must be prepared to explain any gaps in your work history. Be honest and don’t invent anything creative to impress the interviewer—they can learn the truth with a thorough background check anyway. Try putting a positive spin on the gaps by expressing what you have learned during that time. For example, if you felt burned out by your job and took time off to travel, say how it helped you to see your career and life goals from a different perspective. If you needed time off work to take care of your family members, mention how it taught you skills such as time management, multitasking, and reliability.
- Skills: Think of situations when you used hard and soft skills, and consider how you could develop them further. If you have any certifications listed on your resume, remind yourself of their names and when you got them.
- Educational background: If your degree is related to the job, think about how the knowledge you gained can contribute to the work. If it’s unrelated, be prepared to explain why you didn’t pursue a career connected to your field of study.
- Language skills: Does the job require a foreign language? Then be prepared to speak it during the interview. Practice introducing yourself and describing your work experience.
- Things you left out: Resumes have limited space, so you had to be selective while writing them. However, the sooner you realize that the recruiter might ask you about things that are not on your resume, the better. Think carefully about what additional information you can provide for your benefit.
Did you use a creative approach to truth in your resume? I hope not. Lying on a resume is a very bad idea. Read more: Can You Lie in a Job Application?
When making a resume in our builder, drag & drop bullet points, skills, and auto-fill the boring stuff. Spell check? Check. Start building a professional resume template here for free.
3. Research Interview Questions for Your Position
Wondering how to prepare for interview questions? You might be surprised that it can be quite easy. Most interview questions are very common. You don't need to pay $5 to the psychic at the corner of your street to predict them.
Here are some of the most popular interview questions you can use to prepare for an interview:
- What’s your biggest strength?
- What’s your greatest weakness?
- What was the biggest challenge you faced at work?
- How did you learn about this offer?
- Why did you leave your last job?
- Describe a mistake you made at work.
- What’s your ideal work environment?
- How would other people describe you?
- Where do you see yourself in five years?
- Why do you want to work for us?
- What motivates you?
- What is your biggest passion?
- Why should we hire you?
Consider all those questions carefully and prepare detailed answers. Of course, don’t recite them during the interview; you’ll sound ”canned.” And don’t say that you hate your current boss—it won’t get you very far.
The tricky questions are the ones related to your profession. They can be much more difficult to predict. But that doesn’t mean you can’t prepare yourself at all!
Check the below list of steps to take when preparing for questions related to your industry or profession:
- Google search “[profession type] job interview questions”: The simplest method is often the best. There is a pretty good chance you can find blogs or websites listing common questions for any type of job.
- Visit online discussion boards: You can start on Reddit and look for a group related to your profession. It's likely that people who went to job interviews recently shared questions they heard.
- Check popular websites in your field: Most have a career section with articles offering helpful advice for getting a job.
- Ask friends: If they work in the same field as you, you can exchange experiences of past job interviews to find out which questions are common. You might also practice answering such questions with a friend to boost your confidence levels.
Remember that the questions from the interviewer aren’t the only questions that should pop up during the meeting. It’s good to ask questions at the end of the interview. It proves that the candidate considered the position carefully. Prepare a few questions you could ask before the meeting.
Had bad experiences with job interview questions before? You don’t have to answer questions that make you uncomfortable—some of them might even be illegal. Read more: 50+ Questions an Employer Cannot Ask
4. Learn About the Company and the Interviewer
If you’re wondering how to prepare for an interview with a company you know nothing about, I’ve got advice for you. And it’s a short one: learn everything about it.
Well, then, it’s time to be selective. You don’t need the names of all employees and the secretary’s cat. But you need a general outlook of the business you might work for.
You need to know the following:
- What kind of company is it? Do they produce something or provide services?
- How old is this company? Is it brand new, or are there decades of history under their belt?
- How big is it? Is it a small startup or a large corporation?
- What’s the department you applied to? What’s its scope of work?
- Does this business receive any publicity? Are there any controversies?
This information is valuable not only because you can use it during the interview, but it will also give you a better understanding of the job. Imagine finding out the company has much negative press due to mobbing, bad work conditions, absurd workplace surveillance, or not paying their employees on time. You’d like to know that before accepting the job, right? Better late than never.
But wait—how to prepare for an internal interview?
Actually, it’s even easier. You already know the company, and, most likely, you know the manager doing an interview. And even if you don’t—you can ask your colleagues if they know them. You might get great insights.
Pro Tip: Businesses listed as publicly traded companies publish press releases regularly. It’s worth checking them to get information about the business's current operations and planned growth. This can give you valuable insight into the financial conditions of the company as well as possible future opportunities.
5. Prepare Your Introduction in Advance
“So, tell us about yourself!”
It’s a question everybody hates. What exactly do you say? If you talk about your professional background, you’ll sound uninteresting. If you say something about your interests, you might come across as unprofessional. Catch-22-type of situation.
That’s why it’s important to prepare your answer beforehand. And this is how:
- Pick some impressive words to describe yourself.
- Start your answer with your key strength.
- Explain how this ability contributed to your past employer’s success.
- Mention a few quantifiable achievements.
- Say how your skills can grow and contribute to the success of the new company.
Try writing a few introductions first, and then read them aloud. They should sound natural, like an elevator pitch. Don’t make your introduction too long—it’s not supposed to be a TED talk.
Need more tips to build an impressive introduction for a job interview? Read here: How to Answer ‘Tell Me About Yourself’ Question
6. Plan Your Appearance and Get Your Clothes Ready
Planning on putting on your favorite power suit? Great idea! But when was the last time you wore it? At your cousin’s wedding? The one where someone spilled a glass on you? Mishaps like this happen all the time, but you don’t want them to happen when your career depends on it.
Here’s how to prepare for an interview in terms of appearance:
- Get a haircut in advance: If you need to get your hair trimmed, do it at least a week before the interview, not the day before. You’ll have time to fix things if anything goes wrong.
- Check your facial hair: It’s not very likely that the interviewer will care much about it, but if you notice your beard or eyebrows looking imperfect 5 minutes before the meeting, you might feel self-conscious about it. Better to do maintenance work the day before the interview to avoid such things affecting your performance.
- Pick the outfit: First, think of what people usually wear to job interviews. It’s best to try on a few combinations a week before the meeting. If anything needs dry cleaning, you’ll have time to arrange it. The day before the meeting, check if your clothes are pressed and spotless.
- Use deodorant and subtle perfume: It’s easy to forget about a deodorant when you’re stressed and in a hurry, but it’s a lifesaver. You can even keep one in your car or purse for emergencies. Don’t use very heavy perfume—many interview rooms are relatively small, so the fragrance can be overwhelming.
- Look in the mirror before leaving: Before you step out of your house, look in the mirror. Looking good? Awesome! A spot on your shirt? Change it quickly!
These tips are pretty useful for all life situations, right? You’d probably follow these same steps if preparing for a date with the love of your life!
Pro Tip: Do not overdress. Remember to feel comfortable in your clothing. You might be tempted to wear brand-new leather shoes, but if they hurt your toes, you won’t feel great during the meeting. Also, consider the type of job you applied for. You don’t need to wear a designer dress and high heels to an interview for a position at a fast-food restaurant.
7. Pack All Necessary Things
You’re on your way to the meeting. You just wanted to check the exact address on Google Maps. So you put a hand in your pocket, but instead of finding your phone, you just find an empty bubble gum wrapper.
Uh-oh. You left your phone at home.
You can easily avoid such drama. Just pack your things in advance, like you’d pack your stuff when going on a dream holiday.
Here’s what to bring to a job interview:
- Documents: Personal ID, driver’s license, copies of your degrees or certificates—put them in a neat folder so they don’t get wrinkly.
- Mobile phone: Of course, mute it before the meeting.
- Pen and notepad: If you need to write anything down.
- Copies of your resume: You can review it on the way to the company.
- Cash: In case you want to buy some bottled water before the interview or need to pay for parking.
- Keys: House keys, car keys—you don’t want to search for them at the last possible moment frantically.
It’s good practice also to ask the recruiter if you need to bring anything specific for the interview. For example, if you apply for a creative job, they may ask you for a physical portfolio with copies of your works. Others may ask for a list of references. It’s best to check in advance!
Just realized you’re doing a phone interview instead of an in-person one? Check here: 10+ Tips for a Phone Interview
8. Plan Your Route and Get There on Time
You’re on your way to the company headquarters. You spend the time behind the wheel revising everything you’ve learned about the business. And then it happens. You make a right turn, and you notice roadworks. There’s a traffic jam extending for a few miles.
It’s clear to see why planning your route beforehand is important.
Here’s how to make sure you arrive for the job interview on time:
- Check your mode of transport: If you want to go by car, make sure the gas tank is full. Going by public transportation? Check the timetable and make sure there are no expected changes due to maintenance works.
- Plan your way: Check for road closures and planned roadworks. Also, plan ahead where you’ll park your car or how far you have to walk from a transit stop to the company headquarters.
- Leave home early: In case of unexpected mishaps, you need to have enough time to call a taxi or change your planned route for a different one.
- Arrive at least 15 minutes early: It will give you enough time to wash your hands, check your appearance in the mirror, have a sip of water, and catch your breath. Many companies also have security measures that require visitors to leave a signature—if you’re early, you don’t have to rush.
Is this the second interview stage already? Check here: Sample Questions for the Second Interview
9. Control Your Stress Levels
This might be the most difficult step.
You know everything about the job and the company. You’re prepared. But how to mentally prepare for an interview?
There’s nothing wrong with feeling stressed. Stress is actually a pretty good motivator. But only if it appears at manageable levels. Otherwise, it can turn even the smartest candidate into a babbling mess.
How do you handle stressful situations? Do you thrive in them? Or do they push your limits too hard?
Learn how to prepare yourself mentally for an interview not to get surprised by high-stress levels:
- Get a good night’s sleep: As obvious as it sounds, many people forget about it. Don’t spend the night before the interview practicing your answers. Go to bed early and give yourself time to rest. Lack of sleep may lead to high cortisol levels, which can lead to excess stress.
- Imagine the interview beforehand: A visualization is a powerful tool that can help you overcome anxiety related to various life events. Try to imagine the interview minute-by-minute and observe what causes you to feel stressed. Is it your introduction? Maybe the questions asked by interviewers? If you know which part makes you nervous, you can focus on preparing yourself specifically for it.
- Listen to music on the way: Classical, folk, death metal—whatever makes you release negative emotions. Singing along to songs you like can help you burn off nervous energy and take your mind off worrying.
- Breathe deeply: Many people breathe irregularly when stressed. Taking slow, deep breaths has a calming effect and delivers oxygen to the brain, which makes thinking easier.
- Engage your muscles before the meeting: If you feel restless while waiting for the interview, do a few squats, move your hands and arms, or go up and down the stairs for a minute.
Need more stress management tips? Check here: How to Cope with Stress
10. Follow Up With a Thank-You Email
Congratulations, you survived your job interview! It wasn’t that bad, was it? So, how did it go? Are you writing a goodbye email to your colleagues already?
Some job interviews are a total nightmare. But some are actually quite pleasant. And if you enjoyed yours, it might be a great idea to send a follow-up email after the meeting. This way, instead of impatiently waiting for any sign from the company, you can keep the conversation going.
According to research on the power of thank-you emails after a job interview, 1 in 5 recruiters dismiss candidates who haven’t sent one. Shocking, right?
Of course, it may also turn out that, after consideration, you don’t want this job. It’s also OK to send a thank-you email and politely decline the job offer.
If the interview went really well, you might feel ready to leave your current job. But leaving on a good note might be more difficult than you think. Read more: How to Leave Your Job
Plus, a great cover letter that matches your resume will give you an advantage over other candidates. You can write it in our cover letter builder here. Here's what it may look like:
These steps will tell you how to prepare for an interview quickly and easily:
- Review the job offer closely.
- Study your resume in detail.
- Practice answering interview questions.
- Research information about the company.
- Learn to introduce yourself.
- Dress professionally for the meeting.
- Pack your things in advance.
- Get to the job interview on time.
- Learn to manage your stress.
- Send a follow-up email after the job interview.
That’s all! Now, I’d love to hear from you:
- Are you stressed before a job interview?
- What’s the most challenging job interview you’ve done?
- What can recruiters do to put candidates at ease during the interview?
Let me know in the comments below. Thanks for reading!
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