On this page, we lay out some key steps that you should take to prepare for a job interview so that you will be prepared, be confident and ready to effectively present yourself in person.
Remember, an interview is an opportunity for an employer to meet and learn about you, but it is also an opportunity for you to learn important details about the job. It is also an opportunity for you to present why you are a solid candidate for the position and why you should be hired for the position.
For a great overview interview preparation, see this great infographic courtesy of Acuity Training Limited,
Research the Company:
If you didn't research the company before applying, doing some research prior to the interview will allow you to show the prospective employer that you have a real interest in the job. Several ways to do research on a company are:
- Find the company's website. Most companies use their website as a way to present their products and services. Read about what they do.
- Read marketing materials that the company has published about itself.
- Take a look at the "Press" or similar section on the company's web site for information about current company activities.
- If possible identify a question or two that you can ask in the interview in the event you're asked if you have any questions.
- Check sites such as glassdoor.com for information on the company, salary information, and employee feedback, or search on line for sites that discuss the company
Research the Position:
Your job as a candidate is to present yourself as the best possible person for the position. The best way to do this is to find out what the position entails, so that you can identify the specific skills that make you especially suited for the job:
- Be sure to read the job description in the job advertisement or announcement carefully so that you understand the responsibilities.
- Think about your own previous experience, and come up with some concrete examples of why you believe you are a strong candidate for the position.
- Make sure that you have the qualifications to perform the job; if you determine that you might lack some of the necessary experience or skills that are identified in the job description, prepare yourself to explain what you would do to offset or overcome the short coming(s) without under performing in the position.
Prepare Your Materials for the Interview:
- It's important not to wait until the last minute to prepare for an interview.
- Organize the materials you need ahead of time.
- Have multiple printed copy of your resume on good paper with you.
- Bring a complete job history with you in case you're asked to fill out an application.
- Bring separate lists of personal and professional/supervisor references in case you're asked for them during the interview. If you are asked for these, be sure to let your references know.
- If the job involves certifications or licenses, have copies with you. If the job involves driving, print out a copy of your driving record from the DMV, if possible.
Know Where You're Going
- When you're contacted for an interview (often by phone), be sure to get the full address and room number of the location of the interview and the name of the person(s) with whom you'll be meeting. Also get the name and phone number of the persons you should contact in case you need to reschedule.
- Figure out exactly where the interview is and get good directions to the interviewing location.
- Some SER staff advocate making a dry run to the interview location, especially if you're not familiar with the area. Figure out the best way to get there, where to park (if you're driving) or which Metro station/exit to take, etc., and how long the trip should take.
- On the day of the interview, leave early. You don't want to be late for an interview and you want to arrive at the interview location relaxed and not rushed - perhaps with enough time to go over your notes one more time.
Personal Attire and Grooming Considerations:
- Present yourself in your best possible manner, without misrepresenting yourself.
- Dress appropriately for the position for which you're interviewing.
- When in doubt, dress up one level; be a little over dressed, for example: if the position just requires an open collar dress shirt, then add a tie.
- Personal grooming is very important; be sure hair is recently cut or styled. Men: be cleanly shaven or, if you wear a beard, be sure it is trimmed.
- Do not wear or use a lot of cologne or perfume, strong odors can be distracting or even offensive.
- Don't wear excessive jewelry.
- For senior job seekers, presenting yourself with confidence and energy is very important.
- Great everyone you meet, including the receptionist, with a firm handshake and good eye contact.
- Do your best to display energy and enthusiasm during the interview. You don't want the interview to wonder if someone "your age" is up to doing the job.