The Best Way to Prep for a Job Interview

Going into a job interview without preparing for it is like trying to teach a pig to sing: You’ll waste your time and annoy the pig (or interviewer in this case). It’s essential to think through how you’re going to respond to questions and have important materials at the ready. These valuable tips will help you nail any interview:
• Research the company. Unless it’s a start-up company or the CIA, the Internet will have information you can use. Make sure you know the ins and outs of their products and/or services, how long they’ve been in business, recent company news, and how your potential job fits into the company.
• Gather your portfolio. You’ll need multiple copies of your resume, complete reference information, letters of recommendation, a portfolio of past work samples (if applicable), and certifications (if applicable). A big plus: Organize the materials in your briefcase so you don’t waste the interviewer’s time searching through scads of papers for the item you need.
• Know where you’re going. There’s no excuse for getting lost on your way to the interview. Do a practice run a day or two ahead of time—and try to do it at the same time of day as your interview so you get a true picture of traffic. Always bring directions with you, along with the phone number of someone in the company you can call if you do get lost or are running late.
• Be familiar with the interview type. There are many different interview styles: one-on-one, team, lunch, and practical to name a few. When you’re notified that you’ve scored an interview, it’s perfectly fine to inquire about the interview style so you can prepare. The one certainty is that your interview will be a question-and-answer format, so enlist the aid of a friend to do mock interviews with you.
• Practice your answers. There are certain questions you know you’ll be asked: “Tell me about yourself,” “List your strengths,” “What’s your biggest weakness,” etc. Come up with responses ahead of time so your answers flow smoothly.
• Tout your “rightness.” All of the questions you’ll be asked are to determine one single thing: Are you right for the job? Give the interviewer exactly what he wants by conveying to him all the ways you can contribute to the company. Provide real-world examples of how you’ve applied your skills in the past and how that will translate into being an asset for his company.
• Get some rest. The night before your interview isn’t the time to stay up late watching your favorite TV show or check out a hot nightspot with your friends. Instead, hit the sack early. If you’re too nervous to sleep well, try a few relaxation exercises or read a (non-exciting) book until you calm down. In the morning, eat a good breakfast and skip that fifth cup of coffee that will make you jittery throughout the interview.