It’s the night before the job interview, and you’re trying to prepare. Anxiety is creeping in as you try to pick out the perfect outfit and triple-check Google Maps for how to get there and find parking. You’re about to have a potentially game-changing interview that could really launch your career and change your life for the better.
Are you ready?
We understand your stress. As much as you can prepare, it’s natural to be anxious about a much-anticipated interview.
Whether it’s an in-person or virtual interview, there are certain things that can help make your experience before the interview more successful.
With insights from Bethany Cabreja, LAMFT, a therapist at GROW Counseling, we’ll tell you everything you need to know from what to do the night before the job interview until the moment leading up to it.
Let’s get started.
What Your Interview Prep Should Look Like
Preparing for the interview itself comes in many forms, from knowing what questions to ask the interviewer, to know what questions they might ask you, to what you’re going to wear. Let’s talk about them.
Prepare questions for the interviewer
Generate a list of questions for the interviewer. It shows them you have a strong interest in the company and position and that you want to learn more beyond the day-to-day of the job.
Here are five questions to get you started:
- How would you describe the culture here?
- How will you measure the success of the person in this position?
- Looking back, what differentiated the people who were good from the ones who excelled in the job?
- Are there opportunities for advancement and training within the role or company?
- How would you describe the team I’m working on?
“Your goal is to determine if role is right for you,” Cabreja said, adding that you should also be working to “prove you’re the best fit” for the company’s aspirations for the role.
Prepare Answers to Common Interview Questions
After you compile your list of questions for the interviewer, prepare answers for common interview questions asked in nearly every job hiring process. Some of the topics you’ll be asked about include your:
- Hard and soft skills
- Experience in roles at past companies
- Hobbies and interests outside of work
- Potential weaknesses
- Interest in the company and why you want to work there
Outline your answers to these potential topics, Cabreja says. You don’t need to have a sentence-by-sentence response (you still want the conversation and answer to be organic), but have some general points you want to hit.
Define your successes. If you have pinpointed a weakness, talk about the plan you have to overcome it. What intrigues you about working for the company? Identify one or two things you like about their brand, customer service, their customer base, their values, or whatever interests you about the company.
Research the company AND person interviewing you
Whether a big or small company, check out any news articles, social media posts, or blog posts the company has posted online. Glassdoor is another great resource for finding information and reviews from current or former employees.
You can also research the person interviewing you with a quick Google or LinkedIn search. The insights you gain from this research can inform questions you will prepare for the interviewer.
Practice Your Prepared Interview Responses
Those questions you formed? Practice how you will bring them up at various points of the interview. And those responses to common interview questions, where you talk about your experience and personality? Practice how you’ll answer those in front of a mirror, Cabreja says. You can even ask a friend or relative to be the interviewer and practice responding to another human being.
Within these responses, make sure you’re amplifying your experience and skills and how they pertain to the upcoming position.
Cabreja says that you should go into the interview knowing at least three things to be true about yourself. This creates a sense of self, provides confidence, and refocuses your responses on your capabilities.
For example, you know for a fact you are a great listener, you value building relationships across teams, and you are excellent about taking complex information and explaining it to stakeholders. Affirm these things out loud to yourself, and make sure these points come across during the interview.
Print out your resume
Have multiple copies of wrinkle-free resumes handy in a folder, especially when you are meeting with multiple people at the company. Make sure each potential interviewer has a copy of your resume. This means printing out anywhere between 5-7 resumes.
You can keep any other print outs and examples of your work in this folder, too. So they’re not jumbled, create small packets of materials (if you have more than just a resume) for each interviewer.
Double-check the interview details
Always double-check what time the interview is and the location of where you are going the night before a job interview.
If it’s an in-person interview, map out how long it takes to get to the location. Plan to be there 30 minutes before the interview, because it allows a buffer for things like like traffic or having trouble finding parking. (If the company doesn’t provide directions or notes about where to park, reach out to them multiple days before the interview.) If your typical mode of transportation isn’t reliable, consider rideshare or public transportation. Factor in wait times for those, as well.
For virtual interviews, make sure you are seated at your desk 10 minutes before the interview, and join the chat room five minutes early. You will have to be let into the virtual room for most of these types of interviews, so it’s better for the interviewer to choose when the interview starts, rather than them start the interview and you aren’t there yet.
Do not be late for your interview. It’s extremely important to show up on time.
When arrive with plenty of time to spare, review information about the company and your prepared answers, Cabreja suggests.
She also suggests doing breathing techniques 20 to 30 minutes before the interview if you have the space to do so. Box breathing (breathing in for four seconds, holding for four seconds and releasing for four seconds), belly breathing and ocean breathing are all good to help calm nerves before an interview.
Prepare your day prior to the interview
The day of the interview can be stressful. Planning your day ahead of time can eliminate any last-minute stresses and ensure you’re prepared. As we’ve talked about, knowing exactly where you have to travel to, the route you’ll take, how long it will take, and your mode of transportation are vital. There are a couple of other things you should plan beforehand, too.
Know what you’re going to wear (even if it’s virtual)
It’s important to dress appropriately and professionally for an interview (both virtual and in-person), but it may be difficult if you don’t know what is expected. Prepare what you’re going to wear the night before. Clean what you need to clean, iron what you need to iron, and polish what you need to polish. Some different types of attire include:
If you’re unsure how formal the attire should be, err on the side of caution and dress in business attire.
You can carry your resume and notepad in a purse, briefcase, or folder. You can also use these to store your phone (turn your phone on silent or off), wallet, and anything else you need to carry.
Eat well in prep for the interview
Start your morning before the interview with a healthy breakfast. Eat a meal that includes foods that are easy to digest will provide you energy for the day. Some ideas include:
- A smoothie with fruits, yogurt and protein powder
- Oatmeal with nuts or berries
- A vegetable omelet
- Avocado on toast
Avoid caffeine or alcohol the night before an interview, as we mentioned, as these will keep you awake at night and impact your sleep.
Set aside time for meditation
Meditation is a great way to calm nerves, slow down your thoughts, and provide a clear mind ahead of an interview. Plan out some time in your day–five or 10 minutes if you can–beforehand to meditate, Cabreja says. xApps like Headspace, Calm, and Insight Timer are great for meditation.
Get plenty of sleep before the interview
Getting good sleep is one of the most important things you can do to set yourself up for a successful next day. But simply putting your head on the pillow isn’t doing everything possible to get good rest.
Cabreja recommends you finish with all of your interview prep the night before at 8 p.m. or at least two hours before bed time.
On top of that, she offered a handful of tips to follow before going to sleep so you can get the best rest possible, especially ahead of a big day:
- Visualize the interview itself, walking through the experience slowly and with positivity. This can increase confidence and reduce tensions ahead of sleep.
- Budget 30 minutes of full unwinding time before hitting the pillow. This can include light stretching or reading before getting in bed.
- Do a slowed down activity, like making a cup of herbal tea or journaling about your experiences of the day or reiterating positive aspects about your personality and experience. Meditation works here, too.
- Put all electronics away at least 30 minutes before bed time.
- Get a minimum of seven hours of sleep.
Start with your wake up time and work backward when planning this out.
If you’re waking up at 6 a.m. to leave at 7 a.m. for an 8 a.m. interview, that means you need to be sleeping by 10:30-11 p.m. Your interview prep should stop around 8:30 p.m., and you should fully be off screens by 10 p.m. Get that water boiling for tea around 9 p.m. or before. Plan to meditate around 9:30 p.m. This isn’t meant to be a specific schedule, but rather it’s meant to get you thinking about your overall experience with a plan.
Interviews are tough, but with the right preparation, you can set yourself up for success.
That’s why the best way to handle one is to plan out what you will need the night before the job interview, have it ready, and execute your plan while taking care of yourself. Have your resume and any notes handy, plan what you’re going to wear, and double and triple-check the interview details. The research into the company and preparation you do beforehand will show with the interviewer.
Lastly, don’t forget about closing preparation— because ending an interview can be just as important as the way you start it.
If you’re still looking for an interview, head over to the Insight Global job board and find the position that’s right for you. We’ll be there to help you every step along the way.