Tips For Preparing For An Interview

By Maddie Lloyd
Oct. 16, 2022

Find a Job You Really Want In

Landing a job interview is an exciting moment. You’ve impressed the hiring manager with your amazing resume and now you’re one step closer to getting your dream job. All that’s left is acing your interview, which should be a breeze right?

While an interview sounds like an easy task, it’s important to prepare for it. Preparing for the interview goes beyond dressing nice and having a few questions ready to ask.

We have prepared tips to help you prepare for your interview and help you get the job.

Key Takeaways:

  • Before going to your interview, review the job description and match your skills to what the company is looking for.

  • Prepare for common interview questions and think of stories using the STAR method to help you answer.

  • Review proper interview etiquette for the type of interview you have.

  • You should prepare your outfit ahead of time and make sure you know how to get there so you can arrive 10-15 minutes early.

Tips For Preparing For An Interview

How to Prepare for an Interview

  1. Review the job description. Read over the job description that was given in the job posting. Look for keywords about required skills or training, knowledge, and professional and personal qualities that are needed to be successful in the position.

    Use this information to figure out what exactly the company is looking for in an ideal candidate. That way, you can be prepared to walk in and show them that you’re just what they’re looking for.

    We recommend highlighting all of the action words in the job description in one color and all of the adjectives and skills in a different color. Look for words that get used more than once, as they’re probably a priority for the employer. That way, when you start preparing your answers, you can be sure to incorporate a lot of the same language from the job description.

  2. Make a list of your skills that match the job requirements. After you’ve read up on what skills and qualities are essential the job, make a list of your own qualifications and match them up to the job requirements.

    Try to think of at least ten assets you have that line up with the job requirements, and bring some of them up to the interviewer when you explain why you’re perfect for the job. These assets could be:

    This preparation will help you answer job-specific interview questions that employers ask to figure out if you have the knowledge, skills, and qualities needed to get the job done.

  3. Prepare for common interview questions. Behavioral interview questions are very common these days, and they involve the hiring manager or recruiter asking you about your past experience as a way of predicting your future performance.

    Some examples include:

    • Tell me about a situation in which you have had to adjust to changes over which you had no control. How did you handle it?

    • Have you ever had to “sell” an idea to your co-workers? How did you do it?

    • Tell me about a time when you had to make a decision without all the information you needed. How did you handle it?

  4. Think of stories to back up your answers. You don’t want to go into an interview and have an employer think that you’re all talk. Think of examples from your work, volunteer, and personal experiences to show off that you actually possess these qualifications.

    Use the STAR method (situation, task, action, result) to structure your stories in a way that’s easy for the interviewer to understand. Pro Tip: Make sure to use numbers to quantify your stories whenever possible.

    Since it’s impossible to prepare for every possible question of this type, we recommend coming up with stories related to common topics like:

    When you have these stories in your back pocket, you’ll be ready when the interviewer asks you to describe a time that you used these specific skills or abilities.

    For example,

    “I have experience organizing fundraising events from my volunteer history with Planned Parenthood. In fact, volunteer participation increased 30% during my term as Director of Fundraising.”

    Sounds a lot better than:

    “I have terrific ability organizing fundraisers, by the way. Everyone agrees, I have fantastic ability.”

  5. Practice your interview answers with a friend or family member. Practice makes perfect. No, but really — take some to practice answering the most common interview questions that you can expect to hear on the big day.

    This will give you a chance to practice your answers, while also helping to control your interview jitters. When the time comes, your brain won’t be in a frenzy trying to scramble together an answer on the spot.

    If you’re going to have a phone interview, ask a friend to call you to practice. If you’re going to be the subject of a panel interview, ask a few friends to get together and act as a firing squad.

    The more times you go through your introductory spiel, answers to important questions, and asking questions that sound polished and professional, the easier time you’ll have at the actual interview. Practice your delivery, your content, body language, and tone, and get feedback from your mock interview helpers as you go.

  6. Research the company. Find out as much as you can about the company before you go into your interview. This research will help you prepare to answer questions about the company, like “What do you know about our company?” or “Why do you want to work here?” and it will help you think of questions to ask the interviewer.

    Check out the company’s website and look for an “About Us” or “What We Do” page. Read articles about the company online on industry websites, and check out company reviews from clients and current and former employees.

    You want to find out basic information such as:

    • The company’s values and/or mission statement

    • News articles featuring the company (don’t bring up negative press)

    • The company’s primary competitors

    • Challenges the company/your potential department is facing

    • Who the company’s target audience is

    • What service or product the company provides

    • How big the company is, generally speaking

  7. Brush up on your interview etiquette. It’s probably a good idea to get up-to-date on your interview etiquette so you don’t walk in looking like a disorderly gorilla.

    • Make sure to greet everyone you meet politely and with a smile. Use proper body language, like standing and sitting up straight, looking your interviewer in the eye, and looking attentive and interested.

    • There are specific etiquette rules for different types of interviews. For example, the etiquette you use for a lunch interview will be different from the etiquette of a phone interview.

    • Regardless of the format, though, good interview etiquette requires that you arrive 10-15 minutes early (no earlier, because that’s also a bit rude and makes you look like you don’t have anything else going on). It also usually involves a handshake, smiling, and a bit of polite small talk.

    • Most of all, good interview etiquette is about following the hiring manager’s lead. Personality mirroring is kind of cringy, but it’s also hyper-effective when meeting new people that you’d like to impress.

  8. Prepare questions for the interviewer. This is a big one. When an interviewer asks, “Do you have any questions for me?” there are a few questions you probably shouldn’t ask, but the worst answer by far would be to say “no.”

    A few questions you can ask employers are:

    • What does a typical workday in this position look like?

    • What projects are currently being worked on?

    • What’s your favorite part about working here?

    • Can you tell me about the history of this position?

    Here’s a helpful barometer for determining if a question is good or bad: if the question is mostly focused on you and your needs, it’s a bad question, while if it’s primarily aimed at the employer’s needs, it’s a good question. Of course, these questions are also to help you decide whether this job is a good fit for you or not.

  9. Bring all of the necessary interview materials. Nothing says “I’m perfect for this position!” like having your life together. The night before an interview, go ahead and gather everything you need to bring with you all in one place so you’re ready to go.

    It might be helpful to make a list of everything you need to bring. This list would include:

    • A padfolio

    • Extra copies of your resume

    • Your list of references

    • A notepad

    • A pen for taking notes, and maybe one extra — just in case!

  10. Have your outfit ready the night before the interview. Don’t wait until the last minute to pick out your interview clothes. Otherwise, you’ll just show up looking like a mismatched wrinkly mess.

    Have a set interview outfit that’s ready to go when you need it. That way, you won’t have to facetime your mom and ask if your socks match your pants during the time that you could be using to prepare your interview answers.

    Make sure to always dress in professional business attire and be well-groomed. You can also go the extra mile and research the dress code or call the company up and ask. Even if the company looks casual, however, we always recommend erring on the side of going overly formal. First impressions are everything, so you’ll want to make yours a good one.

  11. Get directions. Make sure ahead of time that you know exactly where you’re going and how to get there. If you’re not sure of how to get there, use a GPS to find the best route to the company.

    It’s proper interview etiquette to arrive 15 minutes early, so always leave a few minutes early to give yourself plenty of time to get there and find parking.

    You don’t want to show up to your big interview late and stressed out. For your first impression, you want to give employers the ol’ razzle dazzle, not the ol’ frazzle spazzle.

  12. Go to bed early. Go to bed a little earlier than you normally would the night before an interview. That way, you can show up bright-eyed and bushy-tailed instead of looking groggy, grumpy, and complaining about how you haven’t had enough coffee.

    Plus, this will set you up for getting up earlier on the day of your interview, which will allow you to take your time getting ready.

Common Interview Questions to Prepare For

Here are some other common interview questions to look out for:

  • Walk me through your resume.

  • How did you hear about this position?

  • Why should we hire you?

  • What can you bring to the company?

  • What is your greatest strength?

  • What is your greatest weakness?

  • Why are you leaving your current job?

  • Tell me about a time you failed?

  • Can you explain this gap in your resume?

  • How do you deal with pressure or stressful situations?

  • How would your coworkers describe you?

  • What is your ideal work environment?

  • How do you stay organized?

  • How do you liked to be managed?

  • What are your salary expectations?

  • Are you willing to relocate?

Final Thoughts

Interviews can be stressful, but taking the steps to prepare can help take the edge off and allow you to show up cool, calm, and collected rather than anxious and stressed out.

Interviews are all about making a positive impression. The better impression you make, the better your chances are of getting the job.

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Maddie Lloyd

Maddie Lloyd was a writer for the Zippia Advice blog focused on researching tips for interview, resume, and cover letter preparation. She's currently a graduate student at North Carolina State University's department of English concentrating in Film and Media Studies.

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