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How to prepare for a job interview

The better prepared you feel before your job interview, the more relaxed and confident you’ll feel as the conversation begins. Our top interview tips include researching the organization, planning your look, and practicing some common interview questions.

Know the organization

Learn their mission, client base, background, weaknesses, and strengths. You also should know about current happenings with the organization. Interviewers will expect you to have a working knowledge of the organization you’d like to join—and depending on the size, some knowledge of the area or division you would work in. Knowledge of the broader organization is nice to have but insight into specific business units or departments would be more useful.

Likewise, you also need to know about the position, so study the job description. You’ll be better able to match your experience to the required skills.

Finally, do a quick internet search for the people you’ll be speaking to. Knowing what they’ve done professionally can help you make connections during the conversation. Also, stick to professional activities only.

Polish your look

First impressions matter. You should look like you could work for the organization, but a bit more polished than a day-to-day look. That means playing to your audience. Someone interviewing for a fashion retailer would not wear the same interview attire as someone interviewing at a bank. If you have any insight into the culture of the business, you should have an idea of what to wear.

Plan your outfit in advance, so you aren’t rushed.

  • Step it up a notch. While some industries may be casual, be cautious and dress in classic, neutral work attire. 
  • Go simple. Skip anything flashy or distracting. Keep it clean. Iron your clothes and make sure everything is in good repair. 
  • Keep it clean. Iron your clothes and make sure everything is in good repair.
  • Remember the details. Be freshly groomed with neat hair, makeup, and nails. 
  • Everything you bring is part of your overall impression. The little things like notebooks, pens, purses, and briefcases all contribute to your look so do make sure they are all on-point.

Review your resume

Make a point of reading over your resume as part of your preparations, so you can respond naturally to questions about it. This is especially important if it’s been a while since you’ve glanced at it—or if you added custom items for this specific job.

Prepare for common interview questions

Ask human resources or your recruiter what the interview format will be and who is going to be present. You’ll be able to prepare more specifically if you know what to expect.

Practicing your responses to common questions will help you give thoughtful answers about your key selling points. Be conversational and authentic with your answers—interviewers want to get to know the real person behind the resume. The story of your career should come through, so share what led you to this place and examples of how you use your strengths. Be positive in your answers, and never criticize anyone.

At a minimum, try rehearsing your answers to these practice questions with a friend:

  • Tell us about yourself. 
  • What is your greatest accomplishment? 
  • Why do you want to work for us in this position? 
  • What is a challenge you’ve overcome? 
  • Why did you leave your last job? 
  • How would you describe yourself? 
  • Why should we hire you? 

You also need to consider questions to ask your interviewer. Not only is it an important chance to learn more about the organization, it shows the interviewer that you are interested and engaged.

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This information is general in nature and provided for educational purposes only.