Preparing for an Interview

Being well prepared for a job interview will increase your chances of receiving a job offer. When you are well prepared for the interview, you will come across as self-confident and assured. Preparation lets you take care of the details ahead of time, minimizes the effects of Murphy’s Law (“Whatever can you wrong, will go wrong”) and allows you to focus on the task at hand – landing that job.




Eliminating the fear of the unknown

When giving a speech, it is often helpful to overcome your anxiety and fear of “freezing” by writing it out and practicing it ahead of time. Why not apply the same technique to the interview process by writing out and practicing your responses to the most frequently asked interview questions?

Reducing the element of surprise

If you prepare properly by taking care of the logistical details of getting to the interview and anticipating questions you’ll be asked, you will reduced your chances of being surprised and taken off-guard.

 Increasing your self-confidence

Employers look for applicants who are confident in their ability to do the job. Knowing you have prepared thoroughly in advance only adds to you confidence level, an attribute that comes across loud and clear to the interviewer.

Allowing you to focus on the interview itself

As you get ready the day of the interview, you won’t be bothered trying to remember the details.  Since you already will have taken care of them, you’ll be able to review your responses to the anticipated questions.

Preparation falls into several categories. For more in-depth information about these, refer to the appropriate JobSearch Brief on each topic.

Know yourself

You must know the product (you) that you are promoting in this sales transaction known as an interview. Know your career goals; your skills, interests and aptitudes; and your strengths and weaknesses.

Practice your interviewing skills

Anticipate common questions that could be asked, and know your answers to them; practice responses to difficult questions; and use videotape and/or mock interviews to practice your skills.


Research the job and the company

This high-value activity can pay off handsomely. The more time you spend here, the less time you waste later. Not only will you avoid wasting time on a job you don’t really want, you will impress an employer during an interview by taking the time to find out about the organization. The employer’s assumption is that you thoroughness here will also show up in your job performance.


Know where you’re going:

  • Being late is the kiss of death! Employers assume that if you are late for an interview, you will be late for the job.
  • Find out the exact address, building, floor and room number. Don’t be late because you’ve been wandering around an office complex or a large building looking for the right place.
  • Get directions by calling ahead or asking when you are contacted for an interview.
  • Decide on the best route (factor in rush-hour traffic if necessary). Find an alternative route in case of traffic or construction interferes with your timetable.
  • If possible, make a dry run to the site ahead of time. This really eliminates the guesswork from the trip and gives you a higher level of confidence in knowing where you are going.
  • Arrive at least 10 minutes early so you can catch your breath and visit the restroom to check out your appearance and make any last minute adjustments.
  • Allow enough time for Murphy’s Law to take effect.



  • From the person who contacts you for the interview
  • Find out the name and title of the interviewer(s) and write it down. Don’t rely on your memory.
  • Make sure you know how to pronounce and spell the name correctly.
  •  If a group or panel will be interviewing, find out the number of people and their job responsibilities.
  • Have enough resumes for everyone on the panel plus yourself.




Think about your agenda

Know what points you want to get across. You don’t want to take over the interview, but make sure they know what you can bring to the job.

Fuel up

Put gas in the car. Have a map of the area handy in case you are forced to take an alternative route. If using public transportation, make sure you have change or tokens, and a schedule.

Get your money together

Have enough cash to pay for phones, public transportation and snack machines.

Pick out your clothes

Decide on the outfit you will be wearing to the interview. Choose conservative clothing. Make sure your clothes are clean, fresh and pressed. Iron them if necessary, and shine your shoes. Lay out clothes and shoes the night before.

Set your alarm clock

Synchronize your alarm clock and watch with the correct time, then set the alarm. Use a wind-up or battery powered alarm clock as back-up in case you lose electrical power during the night.

Get a good night’s rest

You’ll want to be at your best for the interview, so a sound night’s sleep will ensure that you are clear-headed and sharp as a tack.

Assemble your materials

  • Organize the materials you’ll be taking with you.
  • Use a clean folder for:
    • Resume (enough copies for the interviewer and/or interview team, plus one for yourself)
    • Letters of recommendation
    • List of questions you want to ask
  • Memo pad
  • Business cards
  • Portfolio, if necessary for the job
  • Two (2) pens




Personal hygiene

Shower, shave, use deodorant and clean fingernails. Avoid excessive amounts of aftershave or perfume. Also, do not drink alcohol or eat unusual or garlicky foods before the interview. Take along some breath mints that you can pop in 15 minutes before the interview.

Review your materials

If it has been awhile since you have really looked at your resume and other materials, do so. Nothing is more embarrassing than forgetting something you included in your own materials. This will also help you present your qualifications succinctly and accurately.


Use your favorite music, take a deep breath or use relaxation techniques to stay calm and collected, and put yourself in a positive frame of mind. You want to appear calm, confident and self-assured.




Take some time before the interview to review what it is the interviewer is looking for.


WHAT: How does the job for which you are interviewing match what you really want to do with you life at this time? Prepare 3 or 4 examples of how it does.

CAN: Jot down at least 3 skills that you believe a person in this occupation should possess. Inventory your skills and compare them with these skills. Prepare at least 2 examples of how you have successfully used each of these skills.

WILL: Identify at least 3 traits that successful people in this occupation have. Prepare examples that illustrate that you possess these traits.

HOW MUCH: Do your homework to determine what people in this occupation make, especially at the company in question. Know what you are worth and what you are willing to accept. Don’t be in the position of having to make that decision for the first time when the question is asked during the interview!











Workforce Investment Solutions of Macon and DeWitt Counties, Illinois is funded through the Workforce Investment Act.