4 Reasons Why You Need to Prepare for a Job Interview

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Here’s a statement that bears repeating: Preparation is the key to a successful job interview. Even if you’ve already sat for tons of job interviews across a long, fruitful career, it’s still important to practice and make specific preparations for that particular company and position. There’s no way around it—you need to be ready if you want to position yourself as a desirable candidate. Winging it will make you look inexperienced and indifferent, which is not what employers look for in a new hire. 

Even if you’re feeling a tremendous amount of pressure, being prepared will help you become more confident and save you from having to scramble for answers or rambling about irrelevant topics, such as your pet hamster or that time you won the canoe race in summer camp. Preparation isn’t just about understanding the company and its goals or what a given interview question is really about and how to answer it appropriately—it’s also about keeping your nerves in check and presenting yourself professionally and confidently, which can matter just as much as your skills and experience.

Successful candidates give succinct, relevant answers; they remain focused, comfortable, and honest, and they are confident in their qualifications, skills, and professional experience. Remember this: If you don’t believe that you’re the perfect person for the job, no one else will believe it, either. The interviewer only has your resume and this short meeting to determine your worth, and they have a ton of other qualified candidates eager to snatch the job, so they won’t hire you unless you give them a reason to.

For thorough preparation, your best bet is to set up a mock interview with an expert, but any preparatory work you do will help you navigate tough or unexpected questions, sell yourself effectively, and clear your mind so you can be attentive and present in the moment rather than overwhelmed and scrambling for answers. Job interviews are stressful even for seasoned professionals, but meticulous preparation can go a long way in polishing your delivery and giving you an edge even over candidates who may have better qualifications.

There are several ways you can prepare for a job interview, and here are four reasons why you should. 

1. Preparation gives you time

Planning ahead is key to giving yourself enough time on the day of the interview to operate at a natural pace. The last thing you want is to be rushing, sweating, or getting interrupted by a phone call in the middle of your interview, which is why it’s so important to plan carefully. Besides, showing up on time—which means early—will paint you in a good light before you even start talking to the interviewer. Showing up late or rushing into your interview almost guarantees you won’t get the job unless you can offer a truly legitimate reason for your tardiness.

Figure out what you’ll wear and how you’ll get to the meeting place at least a day in advance. Will you be driving, cycling, walking, or taking public transport? Do you know the best route? Do you have enough gas? Did you check the traffic and the weather? If it’s an online meeting, is your space cluttered? Are there any distracting objects in the frame? Is your cat filter on? 

By considering all these details, you can comfortably arrive at least 10 minutes early for the interview, giving yourself time to go to the bathroom, mute your phone, and collect your thoughts before you sit down with the interviewer. Whether you’re doing this in person on the company’s premises or online from your living room, you always want to show up with ample time to spare, both to navigate unforeseen challenges and to ensure you feel calm and collected.

2. Preparation gives you confidence

Confidence is an absolutely crucial trait to bring into a job interview, and preparation is the best way to walk in feeling self-assured and ready to tackle even the hardest questions. Obviously, you can’t overdo it and cross the line into arrogance, but a job interview isn’t the place to undersell yourself, either. Confidence means understanding your strengths and weaknesses and leaning into the value you can bring to the company.

Preparing for a job interview is like studying for an academic exam: If you’re fully familiar with the material, you’ll have no problem answering the questions correctly, efficiently, and easily. Knowing beforehand what stories you’ll share to highlight your qualifications will help you take the guesswork out of your interview and stay focused on who you are, what you know, and what your expectations of the job are. 

Of course, you can’t predict what questions the interviewer will ask, but employers are generally after the same sort of information, so make sure to memorize the contents of your resume, consider your short- and long-term career goals, and reflect on previous achievements that highlight your value to this company. 

If you practice some common interview questions about your job history, goals, achievements, hobbies, weaknesses, and interests, you’ll be prepared to answer them honestly and thoughtfully, without going off topic or oversharing. You’ll also be better at identifying what exactly the interviewer is asking with a given question, which will allow you to frame your answer appropriately.

3. Preparation relieves stress

Stress can make us do or say things we regret, which is something you definitely want to avoid during a job interview. It’s hard to maintain full control of your words and actions when your nerves are frayed—it takes a certain level of confidence to overcome your natural “job interview anxiety.” 

It’s also easier to remain calm and focused on the questions you’re being asked when you’re not racking your brain for the next answer or obsessing over something you just blurted out. If you listen carefully to the interviewer, you can offer precise answers that prove your engagement and take your candidacy to the next level. 

When you’re well-prepared, you’re more likely to stay focused on the things you should say rather than the things you should avoid and to listen and engage with the interviewer rather than think about the questions you’ll want to ask near the end of your conversation. Preparation allows you to get out of your own head and be truly present in the moment, and this presence will be reflected not only in the content of your answers but also in your mannerisms and overall demeanor. 

Preparation will help you be ready for the next step so you’ll have the time and mental bandwidth to deal with any last-minute issues that might arise. Familiarity with the most common types of questions you can expect, the route to the company’s building or the basics of the telecommunications app it wants you to use, and the typical job interview process will give you the peace of mind to focus on other details that could impact your performance. 

If you’re unprepared, an unexpected question can throw you entirely off your game. You want to be as relaxed and comfortable as possible during your interview so you can showcase your true personality and speak candidly about your qualifications for the post, which becomes a lot harder if the pressure is stressing you out. Employers don’t want workers who crumble under pressure, so the job interview is your opportunity to show them you can handle the demands of the job.

4. Preparation makes a good first impression 

One of the greatest rewards of preparedness is that you’ll make a good first impression, which is crucial for a successful job interview. With so little time to impress the interviewer, the first impression is the only one you’ll get to make—there’s no chance for a do-over. 

If you’re prepared and confident in your knowledge and skills, you’ll be ready to think on your feet and solve any hypothetical problems the interviewer challenges you with. Preparation will help you stay calm and collected and project a professional attitude throughout the meeting, even if the interviewer throws you an unexpected question. Let’s be clear—we’re not saying preparation will allow you to get entirely rid of your anxiety, but it will help you be yourself so you can stay focused on impressing your potential employer.  

All that being said, there is such a thing as over-preparing, and it’s just as bad as under-preparing. If you’re merely reciting a script you’ve memorized, your answers will sound robotic or over-rehearsed—you want to be natural, authentic, and, most importantly, yourself. It isn’t about preparing the exact words you want to say; rather, it’s about thinking through your answers and practicing dynamic interview skills that allow you to adapt quickly to the situation. 

So, take the time to rehearse your interview a couple of times; correct any issues with body language, vocabulary, or tone; figure out what you’ll wear and how you can get there on time; review your resume; and practice a few statements or anecdotes that prove you’re the ideal candidate for the job. Thorough, dynamic practice will ensure you put your best foot forward.

When the interview is over, send a follow-up letter thanking the interviewer and reiterating your enthusiasm for the job. This is an optional step, but we strongly recommend it as a relatively simple way to stand out from the crowd—keep in mind that some hiring managers disqualify candidates who fail to send a thank-you note. If you’re not sure what to say, use our professionally crafted thank-you letter templates to impress the interviewer and further highlight your professionalism. 

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