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7 Things You Should Always Do Before a Job Interview

You applied for your dream job with a typo-free resume and a kick-ass cover letter. Then you nailed the first-round phone screening. Congrats! Next up: The intimidating in-person interview. With these tips from career experts in your back pocket, you’ll have nothing to worry about—except what outfit you should wear on your first day on the new job.

1. Do a deep-dive on the company.

It goes without saying that you should check out the company’s website. But to really impress, read everything you possibly can about the company, from recent news articles to what leaders in the industry are posting on social media, says Anita Bruzzese, an author who specializes in workplace and career issues.

In the interview, bring up any interesting points you’ve found, like issues the industry is facing or innovative strategies the company has enacted. Plus, this ensures that you have a realistic view of the company for you sake as well. An interview is a two-way street, Bruzzese says, and you want to be sure that the corporate culture is a good fit for you too.

2. Find a connection with the interviewer.

You also want to know as much as possible about the person you’re interviewing with. “Look at their LinkedIn, their social media, where they went to school, their background, and career path,” Bruzzese suggests. Also note any shared interests—maybe they went to your mom’s alma mater, or you both love hockey. These personal connections can serve as as a great icebreakers in the interview.  

3. Prepare your “about me” pitch.

If there’s one question you can always expect in an interview, it’s the classic, “Tell me about yourself.” “In your response, be concise and hit the highlights of your professional career, making it sound authentic, interesting, and memorable, like you’re telling a story,” Bruzzese says.

For example, “I’ve been writing since I was 8, and always knew I’d be a journalist,” or “I moved 12 times before the age of 20, so I’ve learned how to connect with different types of people and how to be resilient.” All employers want to feel like they’re getting someone special, so help them see what’s special in you, Bruzzese says.

4. Know your selling points.

One of the biggest mistakes you can make before an interview is not preparing specific examples of results you’ve achieved in positions similar to this one, says Alexandra Levit, a career expert and co-author of Mom.B.A.: Essential Business Advice from One Generation to the Next.

“Prepare two or three specific examples of results you’ve achieved in positions similar to this one,” she says. “You want to be able to concisely sell yourself and clearly explain why you can kill this job right away.”  

5. Clean up your social media.

“The first thing hiring managers do when they receive a resume is Google the person,” Bruzzese says. (Yikes.) So when you’re job searching, make sure you take a good long look at your social media presence!

Make your personal profiles private, ask your friends to take down any inappropriate pictures, and clean up any feeds that you want to keep public-facing, like LinkedIn or Twitter. You never know who’s watching.

6. Look the part.

The classic advice to “dress for the job you want” holds true, but make sure you’re also dressing for the company you want to work for. “Proper attire can vary depending on the type of company you’re interviewing for,” Levit says. If your potential employers is a conservative business or law firm, a suit will be best, while in Silicon Valley, a suit may actually work against you.

As for tattoos or piercings? Err on the side of caution, no matter what industry you’re in, she suggests.

7. Bring the right gear.

Make sure you have a pad of paper and pen to take notes (so you don’t have to whip out your phone to jot anything down), and printed copies of your resume (you don’t want to be empty-handed if an interviewer asks to see a copy). And regardless of the company you’re interviewing with, leave the ratty purse or college backpack at home, and stash it all in a slim portfolio or briefcase, Bruzzese says.

Want bonus points? Grab an industry publication or the latest issue of Forbes or Entrepreneur—flipping through a magazine while you wait in reception is a much more impressive look than scrolling through Instagram.