How to Prepare for a Job Interview

A few minutes of preparation beforehand could make the difference in your next job interview.
A few minutes of preparation beforehand could make the difference in your next job interview.
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We all have our interview horror stories: the twenty-something human resources rep who kept calling you by the wrong name and texted her friends mid-interview; the panel of aggressive senior managers who made you feel like you were on trial for crimes against employment; and, of course, the time you forgot to wear pants. No, wait -- that was an actual nightmare.

The good news is that with some solid preparation, you can ace your next job interview, no matter what your interviewer throws at you. The goal of a job interview is to present your best possible self to the employer. Even better, you want to show how that best self is an excellent match for the open position at the company.

The worst thing you can do when preparing for a job interview is to take a casual attitude and just "wing it" [source: Robert Half International]. Even if you were voted "Miss Personality" in high school, you won't land a job by charm alone. In this tight job market, employers are very much in the driver's seat. They're looking for qualified applicants who show a serious commitment to their work. This commitment starts during the interview phase.

Employers seek out candidates who know the industry inside and out and understand the specific mission of the company [source: Fisher]. They want someone who's eager to learn, open to new challenges and knows that flip-flops don't go with a suit. All it takes is 10 minutes for an employer to decide if you possess these qualities or not. Come prepared and you'll leave with an offer.

The secret to job interview success starts long before that first handshake. First, you need to do some serious studying. Keep reading for tips on pre-interview research.