Two people sitting across the table from each other with a checklist between them

Your pre- and post-job interview checklist

february 22, 2024

“Hello! We’d love to have you come into the office for an interview. How does Wednesday at noon sound?” If that sentence makes you feel butterflies — you’re not alone! Getting an invitation to come interview for a job can be so exciting and nerve-wracking at the same time.

Preparation is going to be the key to you nailing your job interview. But proper preparation requires more than just picking out your outfit. Here are some essential tips for the perfect pre-interview prep.

The week before

A week before the interview, there are already tons of important tasks you can do to prepare yourself for your meeting.

Research the company

Before going into the interview, it's important to research the company thoroughly. Go to their website and read their About Us page or Mission Statement and Careers page, if they have one. Understand the core ethos of the company and what’s important to them. You may also pick up some extra information about their culture and benefits!

Next, look up the company on Bing, LinkedIn, and Twitter. Look to see if there are any recent news or announcements. You’ll want to use this information to prepare your questions for the end of the interview (we’ll get to that later!).

Finally, research the company’s industry as a whole. What’s going on in the industry? What are its competitors up to? Gather as much data as you can so you can impress your interviewer with up-to-date information.

Prepare your answers

  • There are certain interview questions that are asked universally:
  • Tell me about yourself.
  • Why do you want to work here?
  • Why should we hire you?
  • What are your greatest strengths/weaknesses?
  • How did you hear about the position?
  • Tell me about a time when...
  • What makes you a good fit for this role?
  • Why do you want to work for this company?
  • Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
  • Why are you leaving your current job?
  • What are your long-term career goals?

Go through this list and craft answers for each response. After you’ve crafted the perfect answer, memorize it. That way, when asked, the answer can flow out naturally, and you will come off sounding very articulate!

Need some help coming up with answers? When in doubt, always stick to something positive and professional. Be future- and solution-oriented. Never badmouth a previous employer or complain about a previous role as it can come off in poor taste. Look online for inspiration on how to answer these questions when crafting your own responses.

Make sure that with each answer, you utilize the keywords from the job description. Focus on relevant skills, experiences, and accomplishments. I always say think about it backwards. Don’t think “Hmm, why should they hire me...” instead think, “I want them to think ‘wow! We should hire them!’ so how can I craft my answer to get them to think that...”. Always start with the end and focus on the company, not on yourself. Focus on how you can and will bring value to the company and your unique offerings.

Practice with a mock interview

Another great way to prepare for your next job interview is to have a mock interview with a friend or family member. Pick someone you trust and will give you honest feedback. Ask them to sit down with you and run through a list of 10-15 questions, giving you feedback about your vocal tone, body language, and quality of answers. This will simulate the process of being put on the spot and is an excellent way to ensure you’re going to impress recruiters. Don’t have someone to practice with you? Try using Microsoft Speaker Coach or filming yourself to gain more self-awareness of your body language and tone.

Dress appropriately

It’s time to plan your outfit! Best practice is to dress “one level up” from how employees at that company dress. So, if they wear casual, you wear smart casual. If they wear smart casual, you wear business casual. If they wear business casual, you wear business formal. You usually can’t go wrong with a suit and tie or a business dress. It’s best to avoid any outlandish prints or colors, or anything with a logo on it. You want to look chic, clean, and professional.

If you’re unsure of what to wear, you can always ask the interviewer for the dress code. It’s best to always err on the side of being overdressed.

Plan your route

If your interview is in person, be sure to map out your route well in advance. One of the worst things you can do in a job interview is to be late. Map out the destination and then add 10-15 minutes of buffer time to ensure you arrive on time. While being early is great, avoid being too early. Showing up 2 hours early to a job interview can come off naïve and eager, two things you definitely don’t want to be! Showing up 5-10 minutes early is ideal, even if that means waiting in your car for a few minutes. Take some deep breaths and mentally prepare for the conversation you’re about to have.

The day before

Okay, you’re 24 hours out! Now it’s time to make sure all the details are squared away and you’re feeling confident and prepared!

Review recent events

Just like when you were researching, reference the news and company website one last time to see if there has been any recent developments or announcements with the company or industry.

Prepare your answers

Go over the answers to those commonly asked job interview questions several times. Re-read the job description and make sure you’re touching on all relevant skills and keywords.

Prepare your questions

At the end of every interview, they’ll ask, “Do you have any questions for us?” The only wrong answer is “No”. Make sure you have 3-4 questions prepared for the end of the interview. They can range from asking about company culture to specific workflows to details of a day in the role. Try to get a sense for any red flags and what it would actually be like to be an employee there.

Relax!

Do something that makes you feel good! Dance, go on a run, eat something yummy. Remember: they already like you! They wouldn’t be wasting their time interviewing you if that wasn’t the case.

After the interview

After the interview, make sure to follow up with a thank-you email or LinkedIn message. This shows respectfulness and courtesy. Feel free to reference something specific you talked about and reiterate the value you can bring to their company (and your interest in the role!).

Use this checklist as your cheat sheet for your pre and post interview reminders.

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