Interview Preparation Tips: The Top Ten

Simple Advice to Help you Crush your Next Interview

If you have a job interview coming up, you really need to ensure that you do absolutely everything right. These interview preparation tips will put you on the path to success.

Good-looking young putting on a tie. Is a ties an important part of interview preparation for men these days? It’s a tough question.
Don’t get there the night before, like Josh did, but…

10. Make Sure You Are Not Late

I’ll never forget the time I was an hour and a half late for an interview. I had a new sat nav – back when they were less refined and thought airport taxiways were legitimate thoroughfares – and got hopelessly lost. Needless to say, this was totally avoidable but my younger self had an unwarranted faith in technology. Don’t let it happen to you.

No matter how you’re travelling, make sure you research the journey thoroughly; you really shouldn’t be getting stressed about getting to your interview. If you’re going by public transport, get an earlier bus or train; avoid public transport altogether if it’s not particularly reliable in your area. Consider a taxi if it’s not too expensive.

If you’re going to drive and you have time, make a dry run of the journey at least once. If you have any choice over the time of the interview, pick a time that avoids rush hour.

Finally, find a place such as a café or library within walking distance of your interview, and get to that place an hour early. If you can, take a recce of the walk to make sure you know it. Plan to arrive at the interview almost exactly 15 minutes before the appointment time; any less than that might be considered sloppy, much more than that could lead to people feeling rushed or to an awkwardly long wait in reception.

9. Dress for The Occasion

These days, it’s getting increasingly difficult to know exactly what to wear for your interview, especially now that startup culture has made it acceptable to wear hoodies and jeans in many companies. 

The best advice for this type of workplace is to wear trousers and a casual (but high-quality) shirt. That goes for men and women. Avoid trainers and jeans; even if they are accepted in your new workplace, it looks too relaxed for an interview. 

If you’re applying to a place that’s more formal, just wear a suit. This isn’t the time to be adventurous and reliable block colours are a safe bet; charcoal grey or navy blue are never going to cause any problems. If you’re buying a suit for the occasion, wear it once first so that you feel nice and comfortable on the big day.

Check the website to get an idea of the dress code.

People really notice shoes, for some reason. Make sure yours are clean and presentable. You can’t go wrong with black.

There’s some really useful info here too.

8. Learn About The Company

It really isn’t difficult to find out some facts and figures before the big day. You should also try and pick up some clues about the company culture. Read everything on the website and make notes of anything that might be worth mentioning in the interview. Make absolutely sure you know as much as possible about:

  • The company’s products and/or services
  • Annual turnover if it’s a public company (if not, they probably won’t publish this information)
  • Number of employees
  • The mission statement (many of these are meaningless word salad; some are not.)
  • Any acquisitions or mergers in the company’s history

You really must memorise the name and job title of your interviewer(s)!

7.  Learn The Job Description

Ensure you know exactly what they’re looking for. See if you can identify any particular pain points in the job description so you can address them in the interview. It’s important that you have the JD in mind during the interview because it will help guide your answers.

6. Decide What Time You Will Need to Get Up in The Morning

You will need a good eight hours sleep the night before. Yes, you will. Don’t think that you need less; even if you can operate on fewer hours, you need eight to be optimal. Being optimal is awesome and being tired is not. You need to be awesome on the big day. 

The best way to achieve this is to start getting up at the right time two weeks earlier and going to bed so that you’re actually giving yourself nine hours’ chance of sleep. It’s a really good idea to avoid alcohol during this two week period as well. It’s fine; you’ll feel great and it will all be worth it. That brings us nicely on to the next point which is…

5. Don’t Drink The Night Before but Do Treat Yourself Like The God or Goddess That You Are

Interview preparation isn’t just about the practical stuff, of course; you also need to make sure you are in the right frame of mind. Now, everyone is different so exactly how you choose to do this is up to you, but I would be doing something like this:

  • Listen to Beethoven symphonies through my headphones.
  • Have home-made chilli-con-carne (or similar comfort food) for dinner.
  • Read one or two chapters of an old, favourite book.
  • Have a few high-quality chocolates. And then have a lot of high-quality chocolates.
  • Meditate (or similar activity involving calm focus). Jigsaw puzzles, Lego and knitting are also good for this.
  • Get to bed so you have nine hours’ chance of sleep. Yes I know, but it’s important.

Personalise the above list so that it fills your evening with beauty and peace. If you must add wine, make sure it’s one small glass. If you think that won’t satisfy you, don’t drink any at all. You’ll sleep badly and your skin will look tired. Save it for after the interview.

4. Whose Problem Are You Solving?

This deserves a post all of its own, so I’ve written one. To summarise, though: make sure you have a clear idea of the pain point that the company is trying to address by hiring you and that you know who has this problem. You may not be able to find this information online. Even if this information isn’t available, an interview coach might be able to piece it together, which brings us on nicely to…

3. Use An Interview Coach

I can hear the chorus of ‘there it is’ from here and, yes, of course I would suggest you hire a coach, but that doesn’t mean it’s not an excellent idea! You really need a professional who knows interview preparation inside-out to make sure you deliver your absolute best on the day. The reason people get so nervous for their interviews is because they are underprepared, badly prepared or have no idea if they’re prepared or not. I’ll say no more about it here.

2. Get Your Stuff Together The Night Before

Empty and clean your bag out the night before and then only put in the things you need, arranged neatly and so they’re easily accessible. Things you might want to take are:

  • Laptop, charger and USB stick, plus all slides on paper, just in case all the technology breaks (if delivering a presentation)
  • Phone charger
  • Three high-quality pens (so they don’t leak)
  • Notebook
  • Five copies of your CV
  • A bottle of water (dry mouth is no fun at all)
  • Chewing gum, or similar, to keep your breath fresh (though don’t visibly chew gum!)
  • Cheat Sheet, as provided by your interview coach
  • Sense of humour, humility and confidence

1. Start The Big Day Properly

Prepare yourself a delicious, nutritious breakfast. Really spoil yourself. If you’ve done everything else in this list then you are perfectly ready. Now is your chance to start the day off just right. You really ought to enjoy this; it could be the start of a wonderful future. 

I would love to hear about any ideas I’ve missed from this list or just additional details (interview breakfast smoothie recipe perhaps?) Please let me and everyone else know what interview preparation means for you!

Finally, from Shewbridge Coaching: Good luck in your interview! We would love feedback from anyone who has used these interview preparation tips; it will help us to keep this post as relevant and useful as possible.

Why not connect with me on LinkedIn here?

Finally, if you want me in your corner, landing you interviews and then helping you crush them, check out our services here.


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