5 Tips to Prepare for an Interview

The following is a post from staff writer Crystal at Budgeting in the Fun Stuff, where she writes about finding the balance between paying your bills, saving for your future, and budgeting for the fun stuff along the way.

During my last semester of college, I interviewed for four commission-based marketing jobs and one salaried position with benefits. I was actually offered 4 of the 5 positions. Here are the 5 ways I prepared for each interview:

1. Research the Company

If you know the company, you will understand what sort of interview you are shooting for. For commission-based jobs, I knew I needed to stress how competitive I am. I also mentioned how I knew of their products. For the salaried position with a self-proclaimed conservative company, I knew to mention my dream of working for the same company for years and I dressed in the most IBM-ish suit I could find.

2. Know Your Qualifications

For every job, sit down and write out every single thing you ever did or learned that could possibly apply to the position. Then narrow that list down to the top ten and have those written down on the notepad you put in your briefcase/bag. Make sure to work at least five of your top ten into the interview. I was even blunt and explained what I did to a few of the interviewers that asked about my notepad. My prep seemed to impress them a little. Every little bit helps.

3. Practice

I know it seems silly, but have a more experienced friend or family member interview you first. Practice helped me feel a little bit more comfortable being put on the spot. It also helped me work out my answers for all of the cliche questions like “why are you the right person for this job?” or “why should you be hired instead of the other 100 applicants that applied?” I’d also add that you need to practice a solid hand shake. If it’s too soft, it feels wrong. If it’s too hard, it feels aggressive.

4. Dress the Part

I know you shouldn’t be judged on your looks, but you are. I feel the most natural in sweat pants and a funny t-shirt from Shirt Woot, but that wouldn’t help me find a job in the professional world. Whether you shop Macy’s or thrift stores, be sure to take the time to find a professional suit or business ensemble of some sort including the right kind of shoes for whatever position you are going after.

5. Plan the Arrival

I would suggest arriving to every interview at least 10 minutes early. If you are not 100% positive on how long it will take to get there, do a dry run the day before at the same time or allow a bunch of extra time for bad traffic. All of my interviews were 30 minutes or less from my apartment at the time, but I left an hour early every time and simply read a book in my car until I could walk in 15 minutes early.

Readers, can you think of any other great tips for preparing for an interview?

8 Responses to 5 Tips to Prepare for an Interview

  1. krantcents says:

    I would add grooming as part of professional dress. In the past, I rejected candidates for dirty finger nails, unpolished shoes, messy hair, unshaven, untrimmed mustache/beard, or stains on their clothes. I find it amazing candidates would show like that.

  2. I appreciated your tip on dressing the part. Even if the company dress is business casual, I make it a point to wear a suit. I want them to know I am serious from my head to my polished shoes. My husband even recently put on a suit to interview by Skype with a company. Many people would have just worn something more casual but it was a company that he wanted to impress so he showed them he meant business by dressing professionally.

  3. Thanks for the tips, crystal! These will come in handy for me over the coming months. I also cant stress enough dressing the part. It’s never a problem to be overdress for an interview, but it’s a HUGE problem to be underdressed at one.

  4. Learned a valuable lesson when I did not get the job…. Research the company. I had nothing to say when they asked me about their company. :(

    • Daniel says:

      @Lisa @ Cents To Save, The company I worked for asked me this question each time I spoke to someone. The first time was over the phone and I had no idea, but quick typing saved me. The next time, I was prepared, and during my on-site interview, I was asked with question three separate times. So glad I did my research. GREAT suggestion!

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