36 Before the Interview: Plan and Prepare

Plan your Interview Look

Your professional image and visual presentation weigh heavily on an employer’s impression of you. It is important to note that different employers and environments will have differing expectations of formality when it comes to dress codes, for example, a construction company may be much more casual than a law office. As a general rule, focus on dressing one step above what they would wear to work. This may involve researching the company beforehand or asking the person who has called to schedule the interview what the dress code is.

  • Wear freshly-washed clothes that are unstained and free of wrinkles.
  • Avoid any clothing that is too tight, too revealing, too colourful, or too busy. No jeans. 
  • Have polished, clean shoes, and avoid shoes that may be difficult to walk in. No running shoes.
  • Avoid loud or distracting jewellery, watches, and heavy makeup, dark or chipped nail polish.
  • Ensure you are well-groomed by having clean and neatly-styled hair.
  • Personal hygiene: shower or bathe, wear deodorant, brush your teeth, and avoid using scented products.
Dressing like a professional does not have to be expensive. Visit your local thrift or second-hand store to find affordable clothing.

Prepare for the Interview

Preparation is essential to being successful in the interview process. Your research will show the interview committee your initiative, interest, motivation, and resourcefulness. Before your interview, take a look at the following five suggestions to properly prepare.

Confirm all the details:

  • Verify the details of your interview, ensuring that you have recorded the correct date and time.
  • Map out the location and address of the interview in advance to ensure that you will arrive on time.
  • Record the names (with correct punctuation) and the titles of the people you will be meeting with and research them beforehand, when possible.
  • Ask about the amount of time being allocated for the interview.
  • Inquire about whether there will be employment tests and the duration of these tests.

Review the job description and understand the job requirements:

  • Understand the job requirements and be able to demonstrate how your skills and experiences match these requirements.
  • Review the Accomplishment Statements on your resume and prepare additional examples of achievements from previous work, volunteer, or academic studies related to the job requirements.

Research the position and the company:

  • Use the company’s website to learn about and understand their mandate, mission, vision, values, products, services, and market and be able to relate this to why you want to work with them.
  • Use news sources and social media (Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn) to research the recent organizational activity, view discussions, and updates from the company.
  • Familiarize yourself with the facts: How long have they been in operation? Who is their clientele? What are their products? Are they a local or international organization?
  • See if you know anyone who works at the company, or ask people in your network if they know about the organization.

Review sample questions, prepare answers, and rehearse:

  • Plan and practice your answers as well as your delivery in advance and it will increase your confidence, allow you to articulate more clearly, and will make you overall more comfortable during the interview process.

Build your confidence and reduce your anxiety:

  • Before your interview, practice visualizing yourself performing well, imagine that the interviewers are impressed by your professionalism and ability to answer the questions with ease and competency.
  • Sit up straight, put your feet flat on the floor, breathe deeply, and exhale through your mouth to slow your heart rate down, this will allow you to focus more clearly on your answers while reducing your nervousness.
  • Use positive self-talk, and believe in yourself by repeating to yourself things like, “I’m prepared,” “I’m the best candidate for this job,” and “I can do this.”

Don’t come empty-handed! Here is what you need to bring:

  • Interview details including the address, phone number, and interviewer names.
  • The original job posting to review while you’re waiting.
  • Additional copies of your resume and cover letter.
  • A pen and paper for taking notes.
  • Your portfolio and samples of your work, when applicable.
  • A list of prepared questions to ask at the end of your interview.
  • Your references, neatly typed on a single sheet of paper.
Unless otherwise indicated, this chapter is an adaptation of Be the Boss of Your Career: A Complete Guide for Students & Grads by Lindsay Bortot and Employment Support Centre, Algonquin College, and is used under a CC BY-NC-SA 4.0 International license.

Share This Book