How To: Prepare for an Interview

June 25, 2018     Kokopelli Insights

Outdoor Interview

As graduation season comes to a close, many people are stepping into the next major stage of their life—finding a job. This also entails beginning the interview process with a variety of potential employers. There’s a plethora of information out there about what to do and what to avoid during interviews.

I have gathered a list of 5 things you should remember to do before and during an interview, and 5 things you need to avoid. When it comes to entering a competitive field, like marketing, any little mistake can throw you to the bottom of the barrel. While remembering to do some very specific things may be the tipping point to what gets you hired over everyone else.


1. Wear an inappropriate outfit

Initial judgements of a person are made within the first 10 seconds of meeting someone. When you’re meeting a potential employer for the first time, the judgment comes even sooner. You need to dress for the position. If you’re outfit screams sexy, it’s probably not appropriate. Do your research and get a feel for how dressed up you need to be.

If you’re looking to work within a corporate office with dress codes, follow those codes going into the interview. Even if the position you’re  applying for doesn’t have any dress requirements, you still need to make some effort in wearing something semi-professional. If getting this position is import to you, then you should make an effort to show that right off the bat.

An image of a man and woman in professional attire

2. Arrive late

If you’re late to an interview, go ahead and assume you won’t be getting the job. It automatically shows that you’re not committed to the job or that you don’t know how to manage your time. However, that doesn’t mean you should just give up on the interview. There’s always a chance to rebound and make a better impression within your responses. It also gives you an opportunity to get some more practice with an interview—even if it’s just to learn what not to do.

The important advice here isn’t to just not be late, but to try to be around 10 minutes early. Not only does this show them that you are taking this interview seriously and you realize their time is more important than yours, but it also gives you a little more time to calm your nerves and get more prepared for the interview.

3. Look at your phone/ through your purse

Even though it’s a habit for a lot of people these days (including myself) it’s extremely important not to get distracted by your glancing at your phone or by searching through your purse. You need to be entirely focused on what’s happening in front of you, and if you keep glancing at the clock on your phone, it will make the interviewer think you’re bored with the interview and they’ll be pushed to end it early. Show that you’re not easily distracted and that you’re taking this interview seriously. If you need to, leave your phone in your car or turn it off before the interview.

4. Get too personal

When I was in college, I worked with a group who held practice interviews every semester to help people prepare for the nursing application interviews. One of the biggest problems we saw over and over was when people got too detailed with their personal lives. Because they were trying to get into the school’s nursing program, one of the questions we always asked was why they wanted to be a nurse in the first place. Other than the generic “I want to help people” response, the typically sad personal life stories were the next most common.

Although it’s not a bad thing to share a little information on your background, especially if it has something to do with why you’re in this interview, don’t go overboard and tell too much. If you start crying in an interview, it will usually just make the interviewer uncomfortable and effect your chances of getting hired.

5. Have long-winded responses

On a similar note, make sure your responses aren’t too time-consuming and lengthy. If you notice that you’ve been talking for a while and your interviewer is beginning to shift in their seat and break eye contact, that probably means you need to wrap up your answer—and quickly.

Clean, concise and to-the-point responses are the best way to show that you’ve prepared for the interview and thought about how you would respond to some of the questions asked. Although you probably won’t know every question ahead of time, you can usually predict a few of them; why do you want to work with this company? What are some of your strengths/weaknesses? What experience do you have in this industry?


1. Practice, practice, practice

One of the best things you can do to prepare for an interview is to have a mock interview first. This way, you can wear a variety of outfits and choose one you’re the most comfortable in. It will also give you time to lose bad habits and pick up good ones in regards to your posture. You should take note on whether you are slouching or sitting with good form, making eye contact or staring at the table, fidgeting with your hands or keeping them still and relaxed. Your non-verbal’s really make it clear whether you’re confident in an interview or if you’re petrified and unprepared.

Research some non-verbal’s that you should practice getting in the habit of doing, and which ones you should try to kick.

An image of two men having a more casual interview
2. Research the place of employment

Employers love when someone comes in knowing a little bit about the background of their company. If you do your research and can bring up the fact that you know some of this information during the interview, it will definitely give you some brownie points. It shows that you are clearly interested in joining with that company. Just don’t overdo it and bring up information that’s not relevant to the conversation.

3. Be yourself, but not too comfortable

One question I was constantly asked during the nursing practice interviews was whether or not you should be funny during the interview. Although I warn against being too comfortable and goofy, it’s not a bad idea to give them an idea of what type of person you are. If you can sneak in a lighthearted response at some point during the interview, it won’t hurt you. It will show them that you have a sweet, goofy side and you may bring some light to the office atmosphere. But don’t overdo it—this a professional affair, and you need to treat it as such.

4. Ask questions

If you’re asked if you have any questions at the end of the interview, never say no. You should always have a couple questions prepared, even if you only ask one. This shows that you have an interest for what they have to say, and they may even give you some valuable information about the position.

Some great questions you could ask are:

  • What qualities should someone excel at to succeed in this role?

  • What are some of your favorite things about working for this company?

  • What are the next steps in the interview process?

5. Be friendly with everyone you come in contact with (receptionists/ janitors specifically)

If you can make a good impression on everyone you meet while you’re at this interview (if it’s at the office), that could have a major effect on whether or not you’re hired. For instance, if you treat everyone respectfully, specifically those who may have lower positions than the one you are applying for, it will go to show that you are a genuinely good person. These people may also decide to share their opinion of you to your employer.

An image of two people shaking hands and smiling

The main take-away I want you to get from this post is that you can never research and prepare too much. The more you know going into the interview, the more comfortable you will feel during the process. Confidence is key, and as long as you believe that you are qualified and ready for the role you’re asking for, you will radiate that confidence into the room.

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