How to prepare for an interview (quickly)

1. Conduct basic interview research

Step one is pretty obvious: Find out as much as you can beforehand. Call the person who scheduled your interview and ask:

Who will you be talking to? Are you going to meet the manager you’d work for, or will you just talk to HR? What are the interviewer’s expectations?
What’s the dress code? Dress better than suggested. You can’t go wrong with a professional suit. Even in this day and age, a professional demeanor goes a long way.
Get directions to the office—meaning, you can find the best route to take on Google maps, but make sure you know what floor the office is it on, which elevator bank to take, etc. Plan to leave early. Keep a phone number to call if you get stuck on the bus or in traffic. If you arrive late and stressed, the interview will not go well.
If you don't have a detailed job description, ask for one.
That’s a five-minute phone call.

2. Learn about the company online

Everything you'll read about how to prepare for an interview includes doing some company research. Need help fast? Start with Monster’s company page, which will give you something to talk about in addition to the job description. Go to the employer’s website (the About Us page should be full of useful info), use kununu for current employee reviews, or Google information such as:

How big is the company in terms of annual sales or employees?
What does the company say about its products or services?
What recent news (such as a new product, a press release, an interview with the CEO) can you discuss?
Basic research like this should take you about an hour.

3. Think of some stories

Think of some solid stories you can tell about yourself. Write down and memorize three stories where you can highlight some of your most important achievements. Choose examples that make you feel proud of the work you’ve done.

These stories demonstrate your soft skills like judgment, initiative, teamwork, or leadership. Wherever possible, quantify what you’ve done, e.g., “increased sales by 20%,” “cut customer call waiting time in half,” “streamlined delivery so that most customers had their job done in two days.”

Remember: Non-work stories count toward your achievements; if you volunteer for the local food pantry, write down a time you overcame a big challenge or a crisis there. These kinds of stories make you memorable, which is what you want. 

Take the time you need—at least three hours on this task.

4. Pick your outfit, and go to bed early

Save yourself some time in the morning by hanging up your interview outfit the night before. A good night’s rest will help to calm any jitters and allow you to get an early start. Don’t trash all your interview preparation by arriving flustered and panicked because you couldn’t find a parking space or the train was delayed.

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