An interview can make or break your chance at landing your dream job. No matter how good you look on paper, you need to stand out during the interview process. Learn how to ace interviews with our top 10 interview preparation tips. Below we’ll outline how to do well in an interview, including helpful advice for Zoom, phone, and group interviews.
- Review Common Interview Questions
- Practice Answering Questions
- Research the Company
- Complete a Dry Run In Advance
- Dress to Impress, But Be Yourself
- Get in the Right Headspace
- Warm Up Your Mouth
- Arrive Early, Not Just On Time
- Bring Examples and Resources
- Have Follow-Up Questions Prepared
How to Ace Interviews
1. Review Common Interview Questions
There are many common interview questions that come up time and time again. Reviewing common questions will help you prepare your answers in advance. Even if the questions aren’t worded in the exact same way, the practice will pay off.
Some of the most common interview questions:
- Can you tell us more about yourself?
- What are your biggest strengths?
- What are your biggest weaknesses?
- How do other people describe you?
- Why did you leave your last job?
- Describe a time you were in conflict with someone. How did you resolve that conflict?
- What’s your communication or leadership style like?
- How do you exemplify our company values?
- What type of work environment are you looking for?
- Why do you want to work here?
- Why should we hire you?
What questions do you have for us?
2. Practice Answering Questions
Practice answering common interview questions in front of friends or family. If you’re nervous answering questions in front of them, you most certainly will be during your interview. Ask for honest feedback and make sure they aren’t afraid of hurting your feelings. It’s better to hear about how you can improve sooner than later.
If your interview is in person, practice in person (if possible), and if your interview is over the phone or through Zoom, practice that way to familiarize yourself with the medium.
You can also practice using a mirror or by recording yourself answering questions. This will likely be a painful experience, but seeing what other people see can help you improve. Watch your posture, eye contact, voice steadiness, and pronunciation. Do you have any nervous ticks, such as touching your face or hair, playing with a pen, or looking away?
3. Research the Company
Arrive at your interview prepared with a clear understanding of the company you are trying to work for. Anything you can learn about the business in advance could give you an advantage in your interview.
How do you learn more about the business interviewing you?
- Review the job description.
- Explore the company’s website.
- Look for the person who contacted you or is interviewing you on Linkedin.
- Look at and follow the company’s social media accounts.
- Read a couple of articles on the company’s blog.
- Search Google News for any recent stories about the company.
- If you know someone that works at the company, ask them what they like most about working there.
- Look on their website for a section about company values and consider how you exemplify them.
You might not have time for all of the above, but do what you can to gather a clear picture of what the company is like and any relevant news pertaining to the business. The research you complete in advance will help you provide interview answers tailored to what that business is looking for.
4. Complete a Dry Run In Advance
Whether your interview is in person or online, it helps to go through as many motions as you can in advance.
If it’s an important interview, and you’re nearby, practice driving there a day or two in advance. See what traffic is like, scope out parking options, and figure out what building you need to enter to reduce any confusion beforehand. It may seem like overkill, but just one small surprise on the day of your interview can completely throw off your groove.
If your interview is over the phone or on Zoom, test everything in advance and once again on the day of. Try calling a friend or family member to run through the motions and to make sure your internet connection is reliable, and all of your tech is working properly.
5. Dress to Impress, But Be Yourself
Dress well, but don’t try to be someone you’re not. Pick clothes that look professional but something you feel comfortable in. If you think you look good, you’ll have more confidence entering the interview.
Consider how your outfit will travel if you need to drive or take public transit. Will your clothes wrinkle or stretch if you’re sitting down for a while right before the interview? Will the clothes show sweat easily if you get nervous or the building is too warm?
As with most interview advice, the key is preparing in advance. Pick out your clothes with plenty of notice. Try them on to be sure they fit and are comfortable. It can help to move around in them ahead of time, such as sitting down, standing up, walking to your car, etc., to prevent any surprises.
📚 Read our guide on What to Wear to Work: Work Clothing 101 for ideas and work clothing dos and don'ts.
6. Get in the Right Headspace
Interviews are stressful. There’s so much to remember, and the uncertainty of not knowing what you will be asked is enough to heighten anyone’s nerves.
Set aside some time before your interview to get into the right mindset. Calm your mind in whatever way works best for you. You could listen to music, draw, complete breathing exercises, stretch, or meditate. The key is taking the time to clear your brain so you can focus on the task ahead—nailing your interview.
A busy day or hectic lifestyle is no excuse to skip this step. In fact, the busier you are, the more important it is to calm yourself and refocus before going into your interview.
7. Warm Up Your Mouth
Warm up your mouth with some stretches. You shouldn’t start exercising without a good stretch—and that goes for your mouth too. You’ll be doing a lot of speaking in an interview, so you should do some stretching beforehand.
Saying all the right things doesn’t do you any good if the person interviewing you can’t hear you clearly. Warming up your mouth with a few diction exercises or tongue twisters will help you articulate and enunciate throughout your interview.
8. Arrive Early, Not Just On Time
It may sound simple, but it’s incredibly important: being on time means arriving early when it comes to interviews. Arrive with plenty of spare time, whether in person or online. You can always wait in your car and complete a few breathing exercises or familiarize yourself with the building. It’s better to have extra time than not enough.
Plus, you never know what surprises you could bump into along the way. No matter how much advance planning and preparation you do, you can’t control an accident, your car breaking down, or the weather.
Understand your own habits. If you often find yourself running behind schedule, set the time you need to be ready well in advance. Set multiple alarms and have someone check in to remind you. Do whatever you need to do to make sure you arrive early.
9. Bring Examples and Resources
Bringing in your own resources can help you stand out in the interview process. Print a copy of your resume as well as any work samples that are relevant to the position. If you have a portfolio, bring that along and offer to talk about the projects you’re most proud of.
Think about how you will present these materials. Put any paper materials inside a folder or clipboard to ensure nothing is creased or damaged before you get there. A plastic folder you can leave with the interviewer will stand out and show you put thought and effort into the process.
We recommend our colorful plastic two-pocket folders, which are sure to be remembered long after your interview is over. Bonus points if you can choose a folder that matches the company’s branding! 🌈
10. Have Follow-Up Questions Prepared
The interviewer may ask you if you have any questions for them. Not having any questions can illustrate a lack of interest or preparedness on your part. Whether the interviewer asks you or not, you should come prepared with a few follow-up questions.
Avoid questions that lead to simple yes or no answers and any questions that could stump the interviewer. You want to use this opportunity to direct the conversation and to learn more about the potential job.
Potential follow-up questions:
- What would the day-to-day duties look like for this position?
- What opportunities for career advancement are available for someone in this role?
- Are remote/work from home opportunities available?
- Who do you consider to be your top business competitor and why?
- Who would I report to?
- What is the company culture like?
- Do you have an ideal start date for this position?
- What are the next steps of your interview process?
Job Interview Tips For Zoom, Phone, and Group Interviews
Zoom Interview Tips
- Test your internet connection in advance.
- If you can, have a backup connection available (mobile phone, portable WiFi, etc.)
- Check the background of your video to see what the interviewer will see.
- Complete a dry run with a friend or family member.
- Ensure all of your tech is fully charged.
- Invest in an external microphone to ensure your voice is crisp and clear.
Phone Interview Tips
- Call a friend or family member to go through the motions of speaking on the phone.
- Ensure your phone is fully charged.
- Choose a quiet space where you know you won't be interrupted.
- If you work from home with roommates, spouses, or children, ensure they know you are participating in an interview. Put a sign on the door if necessary.
Group Interview Tips
- Review common group interview questions.
- Understand your own personal strengths and weaknesses.
- Actively listen to everyone at all times, even if you aren’t being spoken to.
- Be respectful of everyone in the room.
- Speak up and enunciate.
- Don’t dominate the conversation.
- Don’t fade into the background.
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