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Prepare to interview

The secret to interviewing well: learn about the employer and practice.

Interviews have a set of rules, and it’s important to follow them. Dress appropriately, arrive in plenty of time, bring copies of your resume and job references, be respectful to everyone you meet at the organization. To go above and beyond the basic rules, these three key strategies will make you a much stronger candidate.

Prepare and practice meaningful answers to interview questions

Use a list of common interview questions to prepare your answers in advance. Be ready to answer: “tell me about yourself,” “what are your strengths and weaknesses,” and more.

It’s also essential to identify skills you have gained from your experiences, and relate those to the job. Does the job require meeting deadlines? Then think about times you’ve had to meet deadlines in projects for school, volunteer work or family life. Would you need to interact with customers? When have you dealt with customers, helped others, or worked with the public?

Interviewers want details, so prepare the whole story, including what you liked, how you handled problems you ran into, how you worked with a team, and what you learned. Mock job interviews let you practice before a real interview; they are offered at college career centers, non-profit employment organizations, job clubs, and American Job Centers.

What does the employer want?

Do your homework on the employer before the interview. Read the company website, their annual report and look for news articles mentioning the company in the past year. Are trends in their industry affecting business? What are their priorities? What do they need in a candidate for the job you want? Use this information to prepare your own questions in advance.

A recent employer survey shows that many entry-level workers interviewed cannot describe what they bring to the job, or talk about when they have used a particular skill. Make it easy for the employer to see how your capabilities make you right for the job.

Be ready to demonstrate your abilities

Some interviews include a skill demonstration, such as writing or editing a piece, solving a typical problem, or building a model. In some professions, interviewers expect you to show a portfolio of your work – plans or projects you’ve produced, photos, writing samples, and more.

Visit prepare for your interviews for more detailed advice, and learn about different types of interviews with tips to perform at your best.