Five Must-Follow Steps to Prepare for Your Interview

Congratulations, you made it to the in-person interview! Now what? How do you ensure you’re properly prepared? Preparation is one of the keys to standing out amongst your peers in the interview process. During an interview, the people you meet will be forming an opinion of you and gauging your compatibility with the needs of the organization and more importantly their ability to work with you. You’re trying to make a good impression and show them all you can achieve as a member of the team. To make the best impression, we’ve outlined some steps to help you prepare for a successful interview.

  1. Research the company
  • It is important to be sincere, polite and enthusiastic about your knowledge of the company and the industry to secure the position.
  • Visit the company website. Know about their history and growth over the years.
  • Look for relevant press releases in major newspapers or trade publications.
  • Research the person(s) who will be conducting your interview. Look over their background and try to understand their role within the organization.
  • Re-read the job description so you can fit your background most effectively to their needs.
  • Be ready with questions for each interviewer but focus on responsibility related issues not “what’s in it for me” questions.
  • Prepare answers to commonly asked interview questions.
  1. Presenting yourself
  • You want to make the best first impression because you only get one shot at that.
  • Arrive early – map your drive the day prior and allow plenty of time for traffic and parking.
  • Know how to pronounce your interviewer’s name correctly.
  • Be polite to everyone you meet there, even outside of the interview team.
  • Be personable as well as professional.
  • Do NOT chew gum, smoke, swear or use slang.
  • Wear business attire. We suggest a (dress) suit or slacks and a button down. Remember to keep accessories, jewelry, hair and makeup conservative and do not wear any perfume.
  1. What to bring (or not)
  • 3-4 copies of your resume
  • A notepad and pen
  • Any recommendations or references you have.
  • Leave your phone in your car or your bag and turn it OFF (not on vibrate).
  1. During the interview
  • Relax and be yourself. You are there to sell yourself and your experience, so give them reasons to buy.
  • Take your time. Usually when someone is nervous, they hurry the process without realization. This can give the impression of not being confident and can also hinder the ability to listen in depth and come up with thoughtful answers to important questions.
  • Show genuine interest and enthusiasm in the company and the job.
  • Try to maintain a 50/50 balance between talking and listening. Do not interrupt the interviewer.
  • When you are asked an open-ended question, reframe it to understand what specifically the interviewer would like to cover. For example, if the question is “tell me about yourself,” your response could be, “I’d love to. Is there a specific place you would like me to start?” It is okay to clarify a question before answering.
  • Assume that all questions are asked for a good reason and answer accordingly.
  • Answer all questions honestly, but in the best, most positive light.
  • When answering questions about your experience, keep your answers 1-3 minutes in length.
  • Be sure to use both “I” and “we” in your examples to show a balance between being independent and a team player.
  • Ask your interviewer(s) how they perceive you fitting into the organization. Ask if there are any areas that haven’t been covered that are important for the decision to move you forward in the process.
  • The closing: Closing for next steps is a key way to show interest and end the conversation on a positive note. Consider saying something like, “I like what I have heard today and am very interested in moving forward. Do you have any hesitations?” You can also ask, “Do you feel I have the qualifications necessary to be successful in this position?”
  • After closing, ask for business cards from everyone present on the interview team.
  1. After the interview
    • If you are working with an agency, call your contact as soon as you exit the interview to debrief.
    • Once you get back to your computer, send a thank you note to every person you collected business cards from. In the thank you note be sure to recap your interview experience.
      • Point out 3 details from the meeting.
      • Close the email by reiterating how you will be an asset to the team and how you will fulfill their company needs.
      • Include all contact information to make yourself easily reachable.

Be yourself and be prepared. You will do great!


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