The Ultimate Interview Preparation Guide

You applied for a job and you scored an interview. Congratulations! Now comes the hard part: the interview. Proper preparation for an interview is the key to getting hired. You need to convince the hiring manager that you are the right person for the position. How do you do that? Through practice, practice, practice (to make it perfect) and by preparing ahead of time.

The first thing to tackle in interview preparation is participating in a mock interview. Ask a friend or family member to help you by asking common interview questions in a professional environment. You can easily transform a small space in your home or workplace into an interview room by setting up a table and a couple chairs. Dress professionally for your mock interview (remember, you want to pretend this is the real thing), and it might be a good idea to ask your mock interviewer to dress professionally as well.

Come up with creative, thoughtful and relevant answers during your mock interview. Ask your friend or family member to also ask you a few questions you aren’t prepared for, so you can be ready for anything. Think of a few questions you would like to ask the interviewer, and try to create a meaningful dialogue. You want to create a strong chemistry between the two of you. Make sure you get constructive feedback and suggestions from your interviewer so you know what to work on when it comes time for the real thing.

Dress for Success

In a job interview, it’s important to look the part. Always try to dress just as professionally, if not more so, than the person conducting the interview. Through your clothing choice, you are showing them just how serious you are about this job. If you aren’t sure what the person conducting the interview will be wearing, try asking a friend or associate who is familiar with the atmosphere of the company. Or maybe you hang out at the coffee shop across the street one afternoon to see what the people coming in and out are wearing. Whatever you decide, just remember that dressing professionally probably won’t hurt your chances of getting the job, but being underdressed might.

The little details about your outfit are important. Don’t overlook a little extra pampering in your preparation; it can go a long way toward helping you make a good first impression. Here are a few things you might consider doing before your interview:

  • Have your suit professionally cleaned and pressed. Many people simply “dust off” an interview outfit that’s been hanging in the back of the closet for years. The non-usage shows, so take the extra step to look good.

  • Do the little things like shining your shoes, cutting any loose hems and manicuring your fingernails. Show the interviewer you are willing to go the extra mile.

  • Do some pampering. Whether that means an at-home facial the night before or a newly trimmed haircut, just do something that will give you an extra boost of confidence before the big day.

    Don’t Overlook the Logistics

    One of the easiest ways to botch up an interview is to arrive late. Although you may think you know exactly where you’re going, it’s never a bad idea to print directions days in advance and drive the route once or twice before the big day. It will give you an idea of how the traffic is on the roads, you can anticipate construction delays and you will know exactly what time you need to leave your house to make it on time (and to be five minutes early).

    While you’re hovering over the printer, you may as well also print several copies of your resume. It’s difficult to know for sure if you will be meeting with one person or several during the interview, so just to be safe, your preparation should be for many. It’s also a good idea to print off a list of references for the interviewer. Ensure each one of your references has a:

    • Name
    • Title
    • Organization
    • Department
    • Telephone number
    • Email address
  • A short phrase that explains how they relate to you (former manager, current supervisor)

    Clean out your bag or purse before the interview and keep only a few simple necessities inside, such as chap-stick, breath mints, a band aid and a stain remover stick. Armed with these items, you’ll be ready to rock this interview. With the right preparation, you can be confident, cool and the perfect applicant for this position.

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