How to Go to an Interview

Three Methods:Preparing for the InterviewAcing the InterviewScheduling an Interview while already Employed

Interviews can seem scary, but even an anxious or a shy person can improve their interviewing skills greatly just by preparing a few days in advance. Visiting this page is already a good first step! Read on for practical interviewing tips, examples of what to say, and the logistics of going to an interview when you already have a busy work schedule.

Method 1
Preparing for the Interview

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    Research the company. Once you know you have an interview lined up, spend some time researching the company and the position you applied for online. You'll often be able to learn the answers to basic questions you have, especially concerning work schedule and job responsibilities.[1] You may also encounter information you're curious about, so you can ask the interviewer to expand or clarify.
    • Try the company website, anything a search engine turns up about the company, and the company's social media pages.
    • Try to understand the company's goals and mission, and how it ties in to your skills and interests. This makes you appear prepared and suitable for the company, which is a cut above someone who only repeats the website's talking points.
    • If you know someone who works or used to work at the company, that contact can give you specific tips about your interviewers or what the company values.
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    Come up with answers to common resume questions. Write down a list of questions you expect them to ask, and then construct a thoughtful answer to each one in writing. If you get some of your guesses right, you'll appear confident and practiced, and will have less anxiety about improvising your answers.
    • Be prepared to summarize your previous work experiences, and to explain how they contributed to skills and knowledge that applies to the job you're trying to get.
    • Certain common resume occurrences are often brought up in interview questions. These include a long gap in your employment, a job you only had for a short time, or unusual work experience people may not be familiar with.
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    Prepare to describe yourself in a way that is relevant to the job. The interviewer may ask you non-work-related questions, and you should be able to tie them into your interest in the company. Some of these may take verbal gymnastics, but if you focus on your personal character development and your passion for the work the company does, you can usually find a way to connect them with the question.
    • Prepare a short summary of a few major accomplishments in your life or career, ending with a tie-in about how you are suited for this job. When they ask you to "tell me about yourself," they are looking for more specific information than what you included on your resume.[2]
    • Google your name and be prepared to explain any unflattering information, work experience you left off your resume, or unusual hobbies. The last category can easily become a strength if you describe positive reasons you enjoy them.
    • Other common questions include What are your greatest strengths and weaknesses?, Why should we hire you?, Where do you see yourself in five years?, and How did you hear about our company? These are all opportunities to describe yourself in a positive light, especially your connection and commitment to the company's mission. If you are having trouble coming up with answers, have a friend who's prepared for interviews before help you construct answers that are positive, but not clichéd.
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    Practice answering these questions in different ways. Have a friend read out your list of questions, or do it alone in front of a mirror. Answer them without reading from your paper, although glancing down at first is fine. Do this several times, trying to word your answers in different ways each time. The more you practice, the more natural you'll sound when the interviewer asks a similar, but not identical, question.
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    Pack everything you need. Bring along a copy of your resume, as well as a notepad and pen. If you're coming straight from another obligation, bring along a comb, makeup, or whatever else you need to improve your appearance before the interview begins.
    • Bringing a phone to exchange contact information is a good idea, but be sure it is set to silent during the interview.
    • Consider printing out the "about the company page" or the job postings section of their website and making notes on it concerning what information you'd like to learn more about.
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    Dress nicely. Cut your nails, tidy your hair, and wear well kept, formal clothing. See this article for more detailed information if you're not confident about your dress decisions.
    • There are rare exceptions, but you should only dress more casually if you are specifically told not to dress up. Even then you should pay attention to hygiene and not wear ratty or dirty clothing. This situation comes up most often for jobs that require outdoor manual labor.
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    Go alone and without other obligations. Having a bored friend in the car or kids waiting in the lobby will increase your anxiety.[3] Similarly, keep your schedule clear so you don't keep someone waiting if the interview goes long. If you have to pick your kids up from school or have a meeting with a friend, try to get someone else to cover for you or reschedule before the interview.
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    Arrive at least fifteen minutes early. Aim to show up in advance in case of unexpected delays. You only have one chance to make a good first impression, and even a reasonable excuse for being late will make you look worse.
    • Don't enter the interviewing office until five minutes before your scheduled interview time. Give yourself extra time to find the interview location if it is in a large complex or complicated building.
    • If you are unavoidably delayed, call in advance and let them know the reason and your estimated arrival time.
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    Calm your nerves before you begin. This article contains many methods for reducing anxiety. Pick one or two that you can do before the interview and have calmed you down in the past. If you have trouble relaxing and aren't sure which will work, try to find the time to try some of these out in the week before the interview.
    • If you have the time beforehand, try having lunch with a calm friend or getting a massage. Many people become nervous if they are waiting for something stressful alone, so try to choose an absorbing, distracting activity with a relaxing friend.
    • If you only have a few minutes before the interview, take a few deep, slow breaths in and out, holding each one for a brief pause. Do this for 30–60 seconds if you can.
    • Some relaxation methods are impractical when preceding a job interview. Taking a bubble bath or jogging right before your interview will leave a bad impression when you show up with wet hair or a sweat soaked shirt.

Method 2
Acing the Interview

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    Prepare beforehand. Follow the advice under Preparing for the Interview thoroughly. The more work you do beforehand, the more confident you'll be. Don't leave everything to the morning before if you want to make a good impression.
    • The advice under the Preparing section includes information on everything from doing research days in advance, to calming your nerves a few minutes before the interview.
    • This section covers the interview itself, starting with introducing yourself and ending with how to follow up afterwards.
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    Make a good impression with your introduction. Greet them confidently, without mumbling, and make eye contact. Shake their hand firmly but don't crush it, unless you live in an area where a different greeting is more common between business contacts.
    • Consider waiting while standing up in the few minutes before the interviewer shows up. It's easier to make a good impression when you're not struggling out of a comfy chair. This won't make or break a job, so feel free to sit down if your knees are shaking or your legs need the rest.
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    Stay upbeat but don't joke around. You should never appear sad or grim. Try to turn every question into a positive, even ones that touch on depressing subjects such as losing your last job. It's great if you and the interviewer are getting along, but don't go too far and start chatting instead of answering questions.
    • When discussing losing a job, use comments such as "I'm glad of the experience I got there." or "And now I'm free to apply to great companies like this one."
    • Don't crack jokes during an interview. It's hard to predict how a stranger will react to your humor.
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    Don't share personal information. You should focus on the questions you are asked and how they relate to the job you're applying for. Be especially cautious about sharing potentially controversial information such as religious beliefs or hobbies.
    • Prepare responses beforehand in case you are asked personal questions. Try deflecting them with responses such as "My (health / family situation / hobby) will not affect my ability to perform this job." or "I have a rich (background / set of life experiences / world view) that adds a lot to my work ethic."
    • In the United States, it is illegal for your interviewer to ask about your race, religion, birthplace, marital or family status, age, sex, or disability.[4] Many countries have similar anti-discrimination laws which you can find summarized online. If the interviewer breaks one of these laws, try to deflect the question without getting angry.
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    Take a few notes for important information. The purpose of a notepad at an interview is to jot down important information you need to remember, such as the potential start date of the job and the contact information of your interviewer. Don't spend the interview writing down every word; your focus should be on the conversation occurring.
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    Ask questions when given an opportunity. Don't make this a one way street. When your answer leads to a question you have, feel free to end by asking it. When your interviewer asks if you have any questions, have a few relevant ones prepared. This is an opportunity for you to find out more about the nature of the job you're considering, not just a chance for the company to evaluate you.
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    Ask about the next step. At the end of the interview, if the interviewer doesn't tell you already, you should find out what the next step entails. Will they get back to you within one week or three? Will they schedule a second interview, or let you know whether you have the job? Know what to expect before you leave.
    • Always remember to end by thanking the interviewer.
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    Send a thank you note for important jobs. The manager of a chain store probably doesn't care whether you send him or her a thank you note, but if this is a job that is important to your career, you should go the extra distance. Contact them the same day just to let them know you appreciated the interview.
    • Send a handwritten note only if your handwriting is clear and legible.
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    Follow through if the company is slow getting back to you. If the interviewer tells you they'll contact you in the next week but there's no sign of this happening, send him or her an email inquiring politely about the situation. This keeps you at the forefront of his or her mind and lets you know exactly what to expect.
    • Don't sound impatient or annoyed, but don't feel shy about contacting them, either. Following through shows interest in the job, and should be received positively, as long as you wait until the company has had a reasonable time to respond, at least a week or however long the interviewer specified.

Method 3
Scheduling an Interview while already Employed

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    Find out how long the interview will take, including travel times. Look up the location of the company office as soon as possible, preferably when you are applying to the job. Once you are offered an interview, ask for an estimate of its length. Is it possible to get there during your lunch hour? You might end up in an awkward situation if you answer a phone call and agree to an impossible time slot in your excitement.
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    Don't agree to interview times you can't keep. If the date is a week or more in the future, you can probably find a way to rearrange your schedule. But if the interview is offered at short notice, or you know you have an important meeting at your current job during that time, suggest an alternate interview time.
    • If you are caught in a phone conversation and offered an interview when you aren't certain of your availability, say you will try to clear up space on your calendar and will let them know soon. Call or email them back as soon as possible, preferably within a few hours, to let them know when you can make it.
    • Some employers have unreasonable expectations, expecting potential employees to show up on a day's notice or clear their calendar no matter what.[5] In initial interactions, assume the other person is reasonable. If you've exchanged a few emails and noticed indications otherwise, you may need to cancel important appointments or make similar sacrifices if you're still interested in the job.
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    Ask if you can attend an interview before or after your workday. Be honest with your potential employer, and let them know you already have a job. The company you're applying to join wouldn't want its employers skipping work to apply to other jobs, so trying to arrange an alternate solution sends a better message about your work ethic.
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    Try to fit your interview into your lunch hour. If the interview is not available outside of your work hours, and the location is nearby, suggest using your lunch hour. Be sure to ask how long the interview is expected to take, so you know whether this solution is reasonable.
    • Don't assume the travel time and interview length will stick within your estimates. If it's a tight scheduling squeeze, ask your boss if you can come in early or stay late that day and run some errands during a longer lunch break.
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    Use a vacation or sick day. Use one of your time off days when you need to schedule a longer interview or one located further away. If you can schedule several interviews for that day, even better.
    • Depending on how nosy your boss is, you might not need an explanation longer than "I'm taking a vacation day." Sick days do require lying, but with some employers or short notice interviewers, you may not have another choice.
    • If you're planning on leaving your job anyway, using your vacation days for interviewing isn't much of a loss.
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    Use a simple, vague excuse. "I have an appointment Friday afternoon; could I work longer on Thursday instead?" is enough for many employers. It even has the advantage of being true, which makes you sound more convincing. If they grill you about what type of appointment it is, just stick with something simple and believable, such as a doctor's or dentist's appointment.
    • If you are taking time off for interviews frequently, the dentist or doctor's excuse still works. Many people need to go back several times to check their dental work, and you shouldn't be expected to reveal your health problems.
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    Don't use an excuse that makes you look bad. In your anxiety not to reveal your job search, you may end up making your boss even angrier![6] If you're lying to make your boss think you're skipping work because of a hangover, what are you accomplishing?
    • Always let your boss know before you take time off, not after. Any excuse sounds unprofessional once you ditched your employer without telling them.
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    Don't lie about a family member's problems. Of course you shouldn't fall into the old trap of "my third grandmother died", but really, even the first invented excuse about a family member is a bad idea.[7] It's not uncommon for your boss to eventually meet the person you're talking about, and then you're stuck explaining that your sister developed amnesia about the race car accident.
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    Don't make an excuse that can be easily fixed or doesn't give you enough time. If your interview and travel time is going to take three hours, saying your son is running late for school won't sound convincing when you finally slink into work. The worst mistake is telling your boss the delay is caused by something he or she can fix. "I have a flat tire, but don't send anyone, I'd rather sit on the highway all day." screams dishonesty.
    • Many large companies have daycare services that can look after your kid, so be sure you know that yours doesn't before claiming your son and daughter as an excuse.
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    Allow time to change clothes if necessary. Most workplaces don't require formal clothing on the same level as interview dress. If you're coming straight from work, give yourself enough time to stop by a public bathroom, clothing store changing stall, or your home and change into nicer clothes before the interview.
    • If you have no convenient place to store your interview clothing, drop it off the day before at a dry cleaner's and pick it up on your way to the interview.
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    Hire a babysitter if necessary. If you manage to get an interview outside of work, but need to take care of your kids, hire a babysitter to cover you for a couple hours. If you can't afford to, find a responsible friend or family member to help you out for this brief period.
    • This applies to other obligations as well; you may need to reschedule less urgent tasks or ask a friend or family member to do them for you.
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    Don't schedule phone interviews during work. If you are having a phone interview, make it clear to your interviewer that you need to know when to expect the call. Don't agree to answer the phone during work hours; that's an easy way to get caught.
    • If you have little time free between when you get out of work and your interviewer does, suggest a phone interview immediately after work, before you get home. You can find a quiet public park to conduct it in, or pull over by the side of the road if you are phoned while driving.


  • Draw on any acting experience you have, even if it was a high school play. Treating a job interview as a performance can help people convey the confident attitude they are aiming for.

Article Info

Categories: Interview Skills