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What to Do Before a Job Interview

Updated on February 19, 2011

You've got an interview, now what? Time to prepare. For you the interview process doesn't start when you step into the company's office, it starts days before. Below are the 5 things that you should do before the interview to make sure it's a success.

Research the Company

Would you want to hire someone who knew nothing about your company? No. So why would someone want to hire you if you haven’t researched the company. The best source is the company’s website. Look for the company’s mission and vision statements. Many organizations list values on the website, ask yourself if you agree with the organization. Look for any news or press releases about the company. If it is a traded company check out its stocks. Learn about the company’s executives. If you know the name of the interviewer research him/her on the website. Research the industry. Look for trends and competition.

Remember companies want to hire someone who will benefit them. Incorporate the information you’ve learned throughout the interview. You want to show what you can bring and how you are right for that company.


Meet the Qualifications

When a job listing states technical qualifications it’s easy to tell if you meet the requirements. It becomes tricky when ambiguous characteristics are listed such as organized, a team player and creative. Be prepared with specific examples of how you fulfill these requirements.

Take a sheet of paper and fold it in half vertically. On one side write each job qualification. On the other side write how you fulfill it. Try to come up with short stories from past employment. Use this as a study sheet before the interview.

If you don't have much work experience this exercise is especially important. Come up with other examples of how you can meet the requirements and expectations of the position. If a job requirement is "the ability to work in a team" use examples from college group projects, or events you've volunteered at. If the job lists "organization" as a key requirement don't just say "I was very organized in college" instead explain the results by saying "I was very organized in college which helped me graduate with honors." Try to stay relevant and use examples in the past five years.

Make sure to discuss not only that you fulfill the requirement but how it contributed to success. It's easy to say you are good at multi-tasking but explain how that skill benefits your employer. Going the step further will set you apart from other applicants and prove that you know how your performance can affect the company.

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Dress Appropriately

A good rule is that it is better to over-dress than under-dress. If you get the opportunity it is okay to ask ahead of time what the office dress environment is like. Most importantly you want to look professional and well groomed. Be aware of your breath and take a mint if you are a coffee drinker, smoker or will eat before the interview. Do not chew gum, or drink during the interview. Be cautious of cigarette or perfume/cologne smell.


Think about what questions you might be asked and decide possible answers. Use the job description as a guide for the technical questions that may be asked. Be able to give personal answers that are unique to you and use the study sheet while practicing. Consider having a practice interview with someone else like a friend or roommate. Be sure to ask for honest feedback. Videotaping the practice interview is a great way for you to observe your interview firsthand. You may not realize how many times you use non-word, such as "um". It will also allow you to look for distracting nonverbal behaviors such as fidgeting or gesturing too much.


If you are late to the interview it will be very difficult to convince the interviewer that you are reliable. It is best to arrive between 5 and 10 minutes before the interview time. Do not arrive more than 10 minutes early because you can cause the interviewer to feel rushed to see you early.

Know where the interview is and make sure you have accurate directions. If you find directions online ensure the time estimate provided is correct by taking a drive there before interview day. Give yourself extra time in case you need to use the restroom or have difficulty finding the correct office. Aim to arrive at the building 20 minutes and wait to enter the building until 10 minutes before interview time.


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