Several Days to One Week Before the Interview
1. Spend some time to research the organization and the position at hand. To find company-specific information research the internet. Study the company’s products and services, industry, target market, annual sales, geographic location(s), structure, history, officers, and any other key information. Are there any new trends in the industry?
2. Identify the organization’s major competitors and do some basic research on how they differ (either positively or negatively) from the company at which you are interviewing.
3. Prepare specific examples of how your skills and experience make you a strong fit for the organization’s needs. Practice answering directed questions about your experience, education, and skills and how they relate to the position at hand. Being prepared to draw colorations between your experience and the needs of the organization is one of the most important interviewing skills you will need.
4. Identify your strengths and weaknesses. Be prepared to talk about your weaknesses, but find a way to frame them positively. For example, “My biggest weakness is that I am a perfectionist. It may take me a little extra time to get a project done to my satisfaction, but you can be guaranteed that the work will pass even the most stringent review, be 100% accurate and that no detail will be overlooked.” Or you can mention a weakness that is not relevant to the job skill set.
5. Prepare several intelligent questions about the company and position that will demonstrate your knowledge of the company and your sincere interest in the position.
6. Try on your suit or dress and make sure it is in good shape. Make arrangements to have it dry cleaned if necessary.
The Day Before the Interview
1. Double check the directions using a map. This will ensure that you know the way and also give you an approximate travel time – don’t forget to allow for extra time for rush hour!
2. Lay out your entire interview outfit. Check for any spot, wrinkles, or snags.
3. Print off several copies of your resume on nice paper. Even if the interviewer has a copy of their own, it’s always a good idea to give them a copy and also give others a copy if you are interviewed by more than one person.
Get a Good Night’s Sleep!
1. Your brain needs fuel to run at peak performance and if there is ever a day you needed 110% from your brain, it’s today. So don’t skimp on meals.
2. Get dressed early so you do not feel pressured to dash out the door. Pay attention to the details (brush off any lint, comb your hair, etc.) and remember that a first impression can reveal a lot about you and your character.
3. Don’t forget to take copies of your resume, your cover letter, and your portfolio if you have one.
4. Leave yourself plenty of time to get to your interview. If you arrive more than 20 minutes early, it’s best to wait in the car or outside the building. Arriving too early gives off the impression that you have a lot riding on the interview (and have nothing better to do with your time), and also pressures the interviewer(s) into feeling that they have to adjust their schedule to accommodate you. It is a standard protocol to arrive at the interview 15 minutes early.
5. Smile and shake everyone’s hand who you are meeting for the first time – you should also smile and shake hands when the interview concludes.
6. Relax! If you have done your homework you are well-prepared for the interview. Take a deep breath and spend a moment collecting your thoughts if you need to when being asked a question.
After the Interview
Email or write a thank you letter within two days after the interview. If you got the job- congratulations! If not, than this interview was good practice that you couldn’t have paid for because it is sharpening your skills and increasing your confidence in interviewing better for the next job.