How do I prepare for a job interview?

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How to Prepare for a Job Interview


Preparing for a job interview is critical to convincing the interviewer(s) that you are the right person for the job. The best preparation consists of learning about the company, the position, and practicing potential interview questions.


  1. Mindset. Every aspect of the job search can be stressful, especially the interview. Depending on your circumstances, you may feel like you have the weight of the world on your shoulders. However, making sure you’re prepared for the interview and practicing a few simple stress management techniques can go along way in helping you stay calm on the day of your interview.
  2. Learn about the company/organization and the position. During the interview you may be asked what do you know about our company? This question can only be answered after conducting some research. This preparation is crucial to making a good impression. Employers will give serious consideration to a candidate who has done their homework. Visiting an employer’s website can usually provide sufficient information. Look for sections labeled about us or working at. It may also be helpful to do some research on LinkedIn to obtain additional information about the employees at the company.
  3. Review the job posting and match it to your skills and background. Look at the job posting and breakdown the details. What is the employer looking for? Think about how your background, experience and skills match what is listed on the job posting. Carefully think about how you can best communicate that you are the best candidate for the job.
  4. Take inventory of your career achievements. During your career, what contributions did you make to your previous employer(s)? Did you find a way to increase profits or reduce expenses? Did you win any awards or receive commendations for your efforts? Take inventory of your career achievements and be prepared to briefly discuss them. It’s not necessary to go into detail but be prepared to talk about a before and after story that focuses on your individual contributions or team efforts.
  5. Strategize your responses to commonly asked questions.
    • Tell me about yourself – Do not tell your life story. You only need to focus on your overall career. A common mistake made by interviewees is to go into excessive details and take too long to respond to the question. If the employer wants you to expand on something, they will ask.
    • What are your weaknesses? – According to the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM), this is consistently rated as the #1 question that eliminates candidates from consideration. You should always be honest when responding to interview questions, and your answer to this one should not indicate a weakness that would eliminate you from consideration. Therefore, when responding to this question think of things that would make you more marketable. For example, is there a software program that you are not familiar with that is not a requirement of the job? Would it be helpful if you had an advanced degree? If that advanced degree is not required by the employer, this would be a safe weakness to provide. Do you speak a second or third language? Being bilingual is a very marketable skill in any occupation. However, if it's not a job requirement, disclosing it will not work against you.
    • What are your strengths? – When responding to this question, consider strengths related to the job you are applying for. You should be able to draw upon your own knowledge of what the job involves or by looking at the job posting.
    • Where do you see yourself 5 years from now? – You should respond to this question with the assumption that this is going to be an ideal employer. Your response should reference your desire to seek a higher-level position. However, your response should indicate that you want to be there 5 years from now.
    • Why do you want to work here? – If you've researched the employer, you should be able to identify aspects of the company or job that appeal to you. Never indicate that you just need a job. You should be specific about why you want to work for this employer.
    • Why did you leave your last job?
      • Layoff – Simply state that you were laid off. It is not necessary to provide any additional details.
      • Quit – Provide a valid explanation as to why you left your last position voluntarily. Give careful thought and consideration to your response, so the employer doesn’t get the impression that there was an issue that is likely to reoccur if you are hired.
      • Discharge – Avoid using words like fired or terminated. Try to indicate that it was an involuntary separation. Explain what happened and try to begin on a positive note by saying something positive about the employer in question. Provide a simple explanation of what happened and how you learned from the experience. It may be difficult, but you should always avoid making negative remarks about your previous employer(s).
  6. Practice, practice, practice. Interviews are stressful and uncomfortable. Consider practicing with a friend or family member. You can also practice by recording yourself using the recording app on your cell phone. Listen to your responses and be reflective rather than overly critical of yourself. Every practice session reinforces your ability to talk about yourself in a clear and concise manner. Making mistakes during the interview is common. However, interviewees that practice before the actual interview are more likely to come across as professional and articulate during the interview.
  7. Closing the interview. There’s a point in the interview when the employer has asked their questions and gives you the opportunity to pose some of your own. At this point, most interviewees ask when a decision will be made and end the interview. The strategy that we recommend is taking the following actions:
    • Express your thanks to the interviewer.
    • Tell the interviewer you are very interested in the position.
    • Ask if there is anything you can do to clarify your qualifications or further your candidacy.
  8. Send a thank you letter or email. Within 24 hours, you should send a thank you letter or an e-mail that expresses your appreciation for the time taken to interview you. In this correspondence, you should also reiterate your qualifications for the position.
  9. Location and technical issues. If your interview is being conducted in person, be sure to get the exact location. You should also obtain the name and phone number of the interviewer in case your name is not on a waiting list when you arrive. If your interview is going to be conducted virtually, be sure that you have the interviewer’s contact information in the event of a technical problem. It's advisable to test your computer/platform to be used (MS Teams, Zoom, Skype, etc.) to avoid technical issues or obtain updates to conduct a seamless interview. Dress as you would for an in-person interview and make sure your background is not distracting. Be sure to make eye contact during the virtual interview by looking directly at the camera above your screen.

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