When you’ve landed a job interview for a great position, you may naturally assume that you are going to deliver a great performance on the big day. But a job interview is a lot like a big test; it can creep up on you. That’s why properly preparing for an interview (just like a midterm exam) is essential to acing the performance. While preparing for an interview may seem pretty obvious, there are many things that even the smartest and most seasoned job applicants overlook, and it could cost you the position.

Start preparing right away by formulating answers to commonly asked interview questions. Give yourself two-three minutes to respond to each question and start with a strong statement that shows your level of confidence and ability. Here are a few of the most commonly asked interview questions that you might anticipate during your interview:

  • Tell me about yourself
  • Talk me through your resume
  • Tell me about your hobbies and interests
  • Where do you see yourself in five years?
  • Why do you want this job?

Create a mock interview situation with a friend or family member and provide them a list of questions to ask you. Let them create a few additional questions to ask you that you haven’t prepared for. It’s also a good idea to create some questions for the interviewer (what do you enjoy most about working here?). You want to have a dialogue with them and show interest in the position, the company and the interviewer.

Plan in Advance

One of the best ways to prepare for an interview is to plan out your outfit several days in advance. This allows you time to wash and iron clothing, shine shoes and accessorize appropriately. You don’t want to look like you just dragged your suit out from the back of the closet. Give your outfit some time and attention to make sure it is professional, appropriate and in-style. You might even consider going shopping for something new to wear to your interview. A new outfit might give you the confidence boost you need.

In addition to having your outfit ready days in advance, you will also want to print off directions and have a clear idea of where the interview is taking place. Drive the route at least once before the big day to get a feel for how long the drive will take you, where to find parking and to ensure there won’t be any major construction delays. You want to arrive about five minutes early for your interview, so plan accordingly.

Don’t overlook the small details before the big day. Even the littlest of setbacks on interview day can turn you in a stress-case or cost you the job. Remember to:

  • Have a full tank of gas
  • Set your alarm (and then set up a backup alarm)
  • Have your cell phone fully charged
  • Brush, floss and use mouthwash on the day of the interview

    • Use cologne or perfume sparingly

    It’s best to not try anything new on the day of your interview. This means no brand-new make-up, foods or products you haven’t tested before. Do everything you can to avoid a disaster.

    Freshly Printed

    Since you will already be printing off a set of directions while preparing for your interview, you might as well print off several copies of your resume to take with you. Even if you are only scheduled to meet with one person, you never know who else might want to meet you. Bring at least three extra copies of your resume for good measure.

    Carry your resume in a clean notebook or folder that can also house your driving directions and a copy of the job description. Read through it again just before the interview so your responses can be tailored to what they need. Also include a list of professional references in your folder. Ensure each reference on your list has:

    • The name of the person
  • A professional title

    • The organization at which they work
    • A department name
    • A phone number
    • An email address
  • A phrase that explains your relationship (current manager, former supervisor)

    Preparing for your interview will take some extra work, but it’s definitely worth it. Anything you can do to set yourself apart from the other pool of applicants will help you land the job. Remember to be confident, professional and prepared and you will be one of the best applicants they have ever interviewed.

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