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Interview Prep in Five Steps
By Bonnie Johnson,


It’s your one chance to make a great first impression on a potential employer, so interview preparation is crucial. Being prepared will help you feel more confident during the interview. Follow these five steps to put your best foot forward in an interview:


  1. Research the organization: Find out all you can about the company and the people that will be interviewing you. Visit the company’s website and social media pages; check out the interviewers’ LinkedIn profiles. Consider following the company on Twitter or ‘liking’ them on Facebook to stay up-to-date on news. Do you know anyone that works for or has interned at the company? Talk to them about the culture.
  2. Know your answers: Many companies still use the same basic questions, such as “Where do you see yourself in five years?” or “Why do you want to work for our company?” Talk through your answers to these questions, but make sure your responses do not sound like a canned one you’ve read online. Thoroughly read the description or job posting for which you are interviewing. What are the job requirements and how can you demonstrate you will meet these requirements? Be prepared to share specific examples that address requirements and qualifications that are needed for the job. Be ready to discuss how you contributed and the outcomes.
  3. But also know your questions: Have at least three to five questions prepared ahead of time that you can pose to the interviewer. HR professionals say that the best way for a candidate to stand out is by asking engaging questions. Expect employers to ask if you have any questions and be prepared to ask them! Employers are discouraged when applicants ask few or no questions either during or at the end of the interview. Stay away from questions regarding salary and benefits during the first interview. The more questions you’ve prepared, the better, because usually at least one of them will be answered by the employer over the course of the interview.
  4. Get your stuff in order: Bring several copies of your resume and references printed on nice paper. It is very common for interviewers to ask for your references during the interview and you will appear unprepared if you don’t have them. Be prepared to take notes during the interview. If applicable, bring examples of your work.
  5. Finishing touches: Map your route to the interview, or do a trial run to see how long it takes you to get there. You can’t be late! Be early, but not too early- be mindful of the hiring manager’s time. Checking in five to ten minutes prior to your interview is ideal. Prepare your interview wardrobe and remember it is always safer to be on the dressy side. Keep your cell phone in the car or make sure it is silenced. Put on a smile and be cordial and friendly to everyone you meet at the organization; you’re making an impression on each person you come in contact with, from the receptionist to the person in the corner office.


Really preparing will help calm your nerves and make you more comfortable during the interview so you can show the potential employer why they should hire you! For more interview advice, see the Career Cultivation blog.