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The Job Interview: Job Interview Preparation and What to Ask

Updated on April 30, 2013

Before an Interview

  • Read over your resume so that you can explain everything in detail if you are asked questions based off your resume.
  • Rehearse questions and answers that might be asked during the interview. Show enthusiasm, dedication, and ambition through your words and body language when answering questions.
  • Research the company and the job description. Study the company’s website. Learn about their environment and what goals, knowledge, skills, and abilities they need. Show how you could be a valuable asset.
  • Bring a professional looking briefcase. Make sure you have a solid cover letter and resume. Also bring your reference list and any reference letters you may have, a notepad (be sure to take plenty of notes – especially names), and a few good pens.
  • Make sure your resume and cover letter are tailored to the company and the position. Show how you fit in with the job, team, and organization through your testing and application. Know what they are looking for in a candidate and focus on those strengths.

  • Have portfolio ready
  • Have directions, clothes, hair, makeup, etc. ready
  • Remove nail polish
  • Dress appropriately. Overdress professionally. Don’t dress to draw attention. Make sure your shoes fit and are comfortable in case you have to walk a ways. Wear dark colors. Shave. If you can, wear a suit set or a professional jacket.
  • Watch your manners, and watch what you do in the waiting room – they may be watching you to see how you handle lulls in time.
  • Clean out your car. Make sure you have plenty of gas and that your car is up to date on maintenance.
  • Don’t take in food or drink.

  • Do not smell like smoke
  • Leave an hour early. It’s always best to be there 30 minutes early. You may want to do a dry run the day before so that you are certain you know how to get there. Use the GPS on your phone or Print the map from that website and the directions in detail. You never know what kind of construction or traffic you will get. Make sure you are not late.
  • Ask interviewer or Human Resource director which building, what color it is, whether it is on the left or the right, who to ask for (who you will be interviewing with), where to park, and verify the time (and if you need to be there early to fill out any paperwork).
  • Don’t wear perfume.
  • Be prepared for a Panel interview, a formal interview with several people, each taking turns asking specific questions. This can be intimidating.
  • Always be enthusiastic about the job even if you don’t know much about it!

Make sure you have directions, the phone number, the contact name and title, and the company name with you in the car when you leave.

Questions to Ask Before Your Interview

If you field out your resume to hundreds of companies, when one calls you for an interview, you won’t know right off the bat which company that is, so you will need to be prepared with some questions.

Make sure you know the name of the company so you can do further research.

Ask for the name of the person you are speaking with or will be meeting with and their title.

Make sure you have the phone number and address.

Ask for directions and where to park.

Verify the day and time.

Verify the title of the position you will be interviewing for.

Ask if there is anything you need to bring with you.

Questions to Ask During an Interview

When in an interview it is always a good idea to ask questions. However, they should be appropriate questions, and they should be questions that make you look good. I would recommend asking around three questions. These are just examples.

What are the most important skills needed for this position?

What are the details, duties, and expectations for this position?

How would you describe the atmosphere here? Ask specific questions about their company and the field. Discuss what you value about their organization. This shows you have a strong interest in this organization and are well prepared. Explain how you can benefit their company with your skills, talents, and past success.

Explain how you can benefit the company with your skills, talents, and previous successes.

Ask if there will be plenty to do, and explain you like to stay busy.

Is there much teamwork or is this mostly an independent position? Either way is fine with me.

I enjoy brainstorming on ways to improve my position. Will I be able to ask my supervisor or co-workers input?

I appreciate the value of taking notes as I learn new things and master my tasks. Will this be a problem in any way?

Are there any drawbacks you can think of in regards to working here?

Do you see me as a good fit?

Were there any questions in which I didn’t provide an adequate answer?

What are the company’s short and long term objectives?

What are the opportunities for personal growth?

What makes your firm different from the competition?

What do you see as the company’s strengths and weaknesses?

How would you describe your corporation’s personality and management style?

What is the overall structure of the department where this position is located?

What characteristics does a successful person within your company possess?

How often do you supply your employees with feedback?

What is a typical day like in this position?

How do you view the future and stability of this company?

What would be the most difficult part of this position?

I have been known to be creative in finding more efficient ways of doing my job. Is the company open to changing to more efficient methods or do they prefer their current ways?

What are the opportunities for growth?

What skills does the company currently not have but would like to see in the future?

When are you looking to fill this position?

What is the most challenging part of this position?

How many people would be in my department?

What is your favorite part about working for this company?

What is the next step in the interview process?

Questions Appropriate for Second Interview

What is the pay of this position? (if you do not already know)

The second interview is an appropriate time to discuss the salary of the position.

What kind of benefits does this position get? (Medical, Eye, Dental, ST and LT Disability, 401K)

How many days off do you get per year?

Do you get paid twice a month or bi-weekly?

Do you offer educational reimbursement?

What are the hours of the position?

Can you work from home via Logmein or is there any other work from home opportunities?

Are weekends expected ever?

Is there much overtime?

Is the lunch hour flexible or is there a certain time?

What is the dress code?

Will this be an office or a cubicle?

Can I bring a few decor items from home?

What is the earliest and the latest I can stay?

Are their raises, bonuses, commissions, or profit sharing?

Can I listen to music while I work?

How do the time sheets work?

What is my start date?

Interview Types

Types of Interviews

One on One
Most Common
More than 1 Interviewer
Many Questions
Often Pre-Screening
Meet Team
Get Along with Others
  1. One on One: The most common type of interviewer involving one candidate and one interviewer. This is less intimidating, but also requires more concentration on that person.
  2. Panel: A formal, structured interview with two or more interviewers. Typically, they take turns asking a specific set of questions. Usually, these are the same questions they ask each candidate in order to obtain an objective opinion of the candidates.

3. Telephone: This may be used as a pre-screening interview or as the actual interview. Often, telephone interviews take place when the interviewer is unable to meet face to face, usually because they are out of the state. Be sure to not chew gum or have distracting noises on. Be very professional, as if this was an in-person interview. Avoid being silly or cool. Check your voicemail often so the potential employer is not left waiting for a response from you.

4. Co-workers: This type of interview often involves the potential supervisor, as well as the closest co-workers you would have. The goal is to see how well you get along with those co-workers and to be able to answer their questions as well. Often, their opinion of you always the decision of the potential supervisor.

Summary of Preparation for Interview

Review Resume
Pracice Questions
Bring Proper Material
Tailor Cover Letter
Tailor Resume
Be Ready
Dress Professionally
Be Enthusiastic


Submit a Comment

  • misslong123 profile image

    Michele Kelsey 3 years ago from Edmond, Oklahoma

    I agree. Sometimes the questions you ask can get you in the door just as easily as the questions you answer. For example, being knowledgeable about the company you are applying to can really be impressive to an interviewer! It shows you did your homework and care about the open position.

  • Jobulo profile image

    Jobulo 3 years ago

    Nice article with some good advice. It's definitely well worth taking some time out to prepare properly for an interview. Many candidates will also find it helps to calm the nerves as knowing how to respond to certain questions before they are thrown at you is perfectly achievable with the right preparation. I like the section on suggested questions - don't forget to as questions of the employer at interview as you need to know if they are the right fit for you!

    We recently did an in depth study on this subject by asking several employers what they look for when interviewing, there were some really interesting results. Take a look at our findings and our subsequent advice on how to prepare for interview day -

    Good luck to all the job seekers out there!