Before the Interview--What to Do, How to Prepare

Estimated Time to Completion: 

4 hours

Image by Firmbee.com

If you secure an interview, it is vital that you do sufficient preparation in order to make sure you leave a positive impression on the employer.

Step 1: Research the company you are applying for.

  • Look the company up in the news

  • Research the company’s history, values, and mission

  • Look up who the CEO is of the company

  • Look up what differentiates this company from competitors in the industry

Step 2: Write out answers to the basic interview questions most employers will ask.

Here are two great resources with a comprehensive list of questions and sample answers.

The Key team has recently gone through the job search themselves and hear are the questions they got in their interviews:

  1. Tell me about yourself (Be ready for this question! Have a short 1-2 minute description of who you are, your past work experience, and why you are excited to interview with the company)

  2. What are your greatest strengths?

  3. What do you consider to be your greatest weakness?

  4. Tell me about a time you dealt with conflict at work. How did you deal with it?

  5. Tell me about a time you failed.

  6. Do you have any questions for us?

We would recommend writing out answers to as many of the questions listed above as possible. Check out the resources linked above for sample answers.

Step 3: Conduct a mock interview.

Have your friends or family ask you questions from the list above so you can get comfortable responding.

Step 4: Prepare a set of questions to ask the interviewer once your interview is complete. This is very important.

  1. In the US, if an employer asks you if you have any questions for them after the interview--it is critical that you are ready. Not asking questions could offend the interviewer and make you not appear interested in the company.

  2. Examples of questions could be:

  • What does a typical day look like in your role?

  • I’m really big into self-learning and upskilling. I am curious to know what training programs you have available to your employees.

  • I’ve read that your company is recently working on <insert initiative>. Are you involved in this project or would you be able to tell me more about it?

  • What gets you most excited about the company’s future?

Step 5: Print out physical copies of your resume. If you don’t have access to a printer at home, feel free to go to your local library or Kinkos and they can help you print it out.

  1. Having your resume on hand makes you look extra prepared.

  2. If an interviewer asks you questions directly related to your resume, you can immediately reference it to address their questions or concerns.

Step 6: Clean and press your clothes and dress for the role. This website provides a great overview of men’s and women’s attire.

DO NOT wear jeans, sweatshirts, sandals, or any “informal” clothing unless the company specifically requests that you dress casually.

Step 7: Determine the fastest route to the interview.

  1. Plan to be at least 15-20 minutes early to your interview

  2. Being late is a hug sign of disrespect in American culture

Step 8: Turn your cell phone off before the interview. Turn it completely off, not just on vibrate.

Step 9: Consider stories from previous positions.

  1. Have a list of 3-4 stories on hand that can be told in 1-2 minutes detailing significant professional experiences you’ve had that highlight skills your employer may be looking for.

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Answer at least 10 of the job interview prep questions linked above and conduct two mock interviews with family members.


In the next lesson, we will be covering what you should do after the interview. How do you follow-up and when should you do it?