7 Things You Absolutely Need to Do Before a Job Interview

by Salary.com Staff - Original publish date: September 15, 2014

Do Your Prep Work

The cover letter has worked. The resume has piqued interest. You get the call you’ve been hoping for and the company wants you to come in for an interview.

This is where the rubber meets the road.

Getting ready for the interview isn’t all about getting primped and pressed, although that’s important. You want to make a good first impression, but it’s that research you do ahead of time that will keep the questions flowing, build a rapport, and ultimately give you the best chance to land the job.

7. Do Your Homework

The company you’re about to interview with is going to do their own research on you. What do you know about the company?

You’ll want to show off some of that research in the job interview. Let them know you’re so invested in this company that you’ve taken some time to find out who is in charge, what it is that they do every day and how you can fit in and make a difference. Make sure you’ve checked the company’s web site, annual reports and any other pertinent information like press releases and news stories.

Having some background knowledge through research will serve you well. You don’t want to come across as cocky, but to make a good impression, confidence is key. It’s the research you do ahead of time that will give you the type of knowledge to help you stand tall.

6. Harness the Power of the Internet

Let Google be your guide.

If you’re walking into an interview and the company was just featured in a newspaper or on a web site, you’ll want to know about it. You can also find a wealth of information on social media. Maybe the company has a Facebook page or key executives have a Twitter feed or are on LinkedIn. It’s worth spending some time in front of your computer poking around.

Rest assured, they’re Googling you and checking out your social media. So be smart about what you post, especially leading up to the interview. Don’t be the job candidate who boasts on Facebook about how you're going to order the most expensive steak on the menu because the company is flying you into town for the job interview.

5. Investigate the Company Culture

Delve into the company culture. Find out what it is that makes the company either a place where people want to work or drives employees away.

Maybe you have a friend who has worked for the company in the past? Or maybe there’s a friend of a friend, or someone on LinkedIn, who wouldn’t mind giving you some insider information on your potential employer.

The work you do ahead of time will also provide fodder for both asking and answering questions that show you are fully engaged.

4. Know Every Bit of Your Resume

Make sure you know your resume inside and out. That’s the document your interviewer is going to use to ask you questions. Study it as if you’re cramming for a final exam where an A is a must.

And be prepared to answer pointed questions about it.

Why did you leave that job after just six months? How come you never finished that graduate degree? What were your job responsibilities at that job five years ago? How will those courses you took translate into helping the company?

3. Practice Your Interview

Sit down and rehearse your answers to key questions before you do the interview. Think about questions you’ve been asked in the past that have stumped you under the hot lights and pressure of sitting across a conference room table.

Know what you’re going to say when the interviewer asks: Who is your favorite author or what’s the last book you read? Know what you’re going to say if the interviewer asks where you see yourself in five or ten years. And if there’s an answer you’re hoping they don’t ask, have an answer for it at the ready. Because you know it’s coming.

Long pauses or evasive answers will hurt your credibility. Be ready with personal anecdotes and information that can help solidify your answers to questions. By practicing ahead of time, you’ll come across as polished, relaxed and poised under pressure.

2. Prepare Questions of Your Own

An interview isn’t all about what you’ll be asked, but is also a chance for you to get answers. Prepare a list of questions in advance that you want answered to help make an informed decision.

But be leery of jumping too quickly into questions about salary and benefits -- save those for when things get serious. They’re important questions but may turn off the interviewer if that’s where you start.

Ask about expectations and how your performance in meeting those expectations will be evaluated. Take some time to get know about your direct supervisor and the people you will work with, digging into the workplace environment. And, most importantly, let them know you’re still interested by asking what are the next steps and when you should expect to hear from them.

1. Shop Til You Pop

You want to make a good first impression, so what you wear to the interview could be as important as what you say or do.

First of all, nothing too flashy or too revealing. Let them know this job is important to you by wearing something that’s fresh and stylish. And make sure it fits. There would be nothing worse than getting up on the morning of the interview, taking your shower and then realizing your clothes are too tight or baggy.

Oh, and just before you’re called into the office, make sure you take a minute to look in the mirror – not because you’re vain, but to make sure there is no distracting spinach between your teeth from lunch.

Do Your Salary Research Before the Interview

Spending time on your wardrobe and practicing the interview is great, but you also need to research how much the job pays and what kind of salary you want if you're made an offer. First and foremost, you need a foundation from which you can negotiate if you're asking for a raise. And Salary.com can help you get paid fairly what you do.

The first thing you should do is research, so you're able to come to the table armed with the knowledge of what your job is worth. Use our free Salary Wizard below to find out what's a fair salary for your position. You can enter your location, education level, years of experience and more to find out an appropriate salary range before you negotiate.

Good luck.