what you should do before every interview

by Ask a Manager on August 12, 2013

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featured-on-usnWhen you get a job interview, how you prepare ahead of time can be the difference between doing well and crashing and burning. Over at U.S. News & World Report today, I talk about eight key steps to take before every interview to maximize your chances of performing well and landing the job. You can read it here.

{ 19 comments… read them below or add one }

JM in England August 12, 2013 at 11:18 am

All good advice except for #1. There have been times where I have travelled great distances to interviews ; best example was when I had one in Scotland (I live near London) and would be impractical to do.

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Adam V August 12, 2013 at 11:24 am

At that point your best bet is to arrive extra early. Give yourself much more time than you think you’ll actually need, and spend the extra time at a nearby coffee shop or wandering a Best Buy (that’s what I did while waiting for the interview for my first job).

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Jessa August 13, 2013 at 1:06 am

Yes, arriving early is good, just make sure you leave enough time to cover any kind of weirdness with transportation.

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Bryan August 12, 2013 at 12:06 pm

It’s still good advice, it’s just not always feasible.

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JM in England August 12, 2013 at 4:48 pm

+1

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danr August 12, 2013 at 12:07 pm

There are enough good map sites and traffic sites so you can simulate a trip to the interview. For a city, this would include a simulation using mass transit.

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Felicia August 12, 2013 at 11:20 am

Coming up with questions of my own is a big one for me and one I learned the hard way. I usually do have a lot of questions, but I can never think of them during the interview. So thinking of them before helps me to remember what i want to ask. After a few interviews, the preparation gets a lot easier because you’ve done it before.

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voluptuousfire August 12, 2013 at 1:09 pm

I have a leather folder with an attached legal pad that I bring to interviews. I usually come up with questions the day or two before the interview and write those down in my horrible doctor handwriting on my scratch legal pad. I then re-write them in more legible handwriting in the leather folder. When the questions part of the in-person interview comes up, I already have my questions in front of me and can pull them from there. It helps immensely because it makes me appear organized and shows I did my homework. The interviewer is usually fairly impressed.

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Carrie in Scotland August 12, 2013 at 11:20 am

With regard to #1, I would prefer it if it mentioned other ways of getting there. Not everyone drives, although the advice is roughly the same – plan, plan and more planning!

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Felicia August 12, 2013 at 11:24 am

I always take public transit, so I always look at the bus times in advance, as well as figure out alternate transit routes (if the streetcar i need is diverting, I don’t want to be lost as to what to do!) I can’t really afford to take the trip beforehand, but i do plan it out meticulously and leave myself more time than the public transit trip planner says.

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voluptuousfire August 12, 2013 at 1:24 pm

Even the best laid plans…

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JM in England August 12, 2013 at 4:36 pm

For my long distance interviews, I travelled up the previous day and stayed overnight in a hotel. That way, any transport problems would not impact on arriving on time for the interview. An added bonus was that I would be fresh the next day, and therefore at my best.

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VictoriaHR August 12, 2013 at 11:57 am

Researching! I do at least 10 phone screens a day, and 95% of them have no idea what job they applied for other than that it’s a call center job. Do you know what we do? No… Do you know what you’d be doing in the job? No… Um, you read the job posting and clicked “Apply” …

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BausLady August 12, 2013 at 1:53 pm

This. I understand that most candidates are probably applying for multiple jobs at a time, and it can be hard to keep them all straight. But I always call to schedule phone screens ahead, so it’s not like it’s a surprise when they happen. They always have at least a day to figure out what job it is and do their research. And yet they never do…

I recruit for a call center too. Maybe it’s an industry thing?

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danr August 12, 2013 at 12:11 pm

#3 and #4 should be part of the basic research for an application. And it’s good advice to revisit them before an interview.

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NutellaNutterson August 12, 2013 at 1:13 pm

You forgot my new favorite must-do: watch Amy Cuddy’s TED talk:
“Your body language shapes who you are” (aka Power Poses), and then power pose before you go in!

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Minneapolis mom August 12, 2013 at 4:23 pm

I did this before my last interview and got the job! Well, to be honest I did it before my last several interviews only one of which hired me. But seriously, I felt more relaxed, confident and ready to go after Power Posing.

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Lily August 12, 2013 at 3:50 pm

What about reviewing your own work history, so that you can answer if you are asked behavioral interview questions which always want you to talk about a time when … you had a conflict with a team member, you had several deadlines, you made a mistake … ?

If you were given the names of the people who will be interviewing you, review them, so that you do not mistake your interviewer the vice president of the company for the HR person who invited you to the interview. This is especially embarrassing if your interview takes place in the office of the vice president and his name is listed on the door.

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NewToThis August 12, 2013 at 11:24 pm

I had an interview today and did everything except for #2, #6 and #7.

When I practice I memorize answers and if I mess up my answer in even the smallest way, it completely throws me off because I’m trying to remember the next line. Learned that the hard way many times. I realized I’m much better at just winging it.

Thanks to this website I was worried about an answer for the “what’s your greatest weakness?” question as I had always used perfectionism. I just hoped it wouldn’t be asked, and thankfully it wasn’t! I’ll have to work on this one.

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