Nail your Interview Before Walking Through the Door

These five steps will give you what you need to shake your interviewer’s hand with confidence. Picture courtesy of

These five steps will give you what you need to shake your interviewer’s hand with confidence. Picture courtesy of

It doesn’t take much to make a bad first impression. Thirty-three percent of employers said they knew within 90 seconds of an interview whether or not they would hire someone. It’s more than likely you aren’t the only qualified candidate shaking the boss’s hand, so you better be prepared to win the interview before you ever walk through the door. Here are five things you can do to help you nail it every time.

Step 1: Do your research

The time has come and gone where showing up in your best-looking suit after browsing the company website for a few minutes in the parking lot will properly prepare you for an interview at your dream job.

Communications and public relations professional Natalie Ipson said showing an interviewer you have acquainted yourself with the organization and the open position is one of the best ways to make a good first impression. Whether you’re interviewing at an established PR Agency or a new start-up, spend some time answering a few of these questions recommended by PR News Online:
-What is the history of the agency?

-What are its founder’s values?

-What type of projects do they specialize in?

-What notable brands or companies have they worked with?

-What are their strengths? Weaknesses?


A company website is typically a good place to start, and social media platforms have become a great place for finding additional information— Try starting with the company Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn pages and profiles of key company leaders.

Pro Tip: Be scrappy and dig, all the answers aren’t going to be on the first page of the Google search results. Don’t get worked up if you can’t find all the answers. Your unanswered questions will be a great start for questions you might want to ask during the interview.

Step 2: Brainstorm relevant past experiences

Interviewers want to know that you can communicate effectively; they want to hear relevant experiences. Familiarizing yourself with common interview questions can help you prepare experiences that will illustrate effective communication and qualification. Here’s a list of some common interview questions I found from The Balance.

For example, you might want to start by thinking of experiences that draw on your ability to problem solve or think critically. Remember, it’s never a bad idea to have several relevant experiences in mind that can be used to answer potential questions.

Experiences are what make you interesting. Everyone wants to differentiate themselves from the competition– personal experience is how it’s done.

Pro Tip: The Undercover Recruiter found the most common interview question to be, “Tell me about yourself?” – which means it might be a good one to prepare for.

Step 3: Compile a list of thoughtful, specific questions

Five minutes into what I expected to be a 30-minute interview, the interviewer leaned back in his chair and said, “Well, that’s all the questions I have for you. What questions do you have for me?”

I was not prepared. Let me be the one to tell you, twiddling your thumbs is NOT a good question. This is your chance to interview the interviewer.

It all comes back to doing your research, “Getting context allows you to ask better questions to help you decide if the job is something you want to do,” said Ipson.

If you’re a qualified candidate, you should also be focusing on if the job is the right fit for you. PR Blogger, Sarah Stimson recommends writing down at least five questions and bringing the list with you to the interview.

Pro Tip: Skilled Up has some good questions to help you get started, and it doesn’t start with “How much money will I make?”

Step 4: Social Stalking

AdWeek found that over 55 percent of employers looked you up on Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn or Twitter a few minutes after you sent in your resume. There is nothing wrong with “stalking” them!

“If you know the name of the person you’re interviewing with, find them on LinkedIn and look at their background,” said Ipson.

This is a chance to better understand their personality and leverage that in the interview.

Pro Tip: Don’t accidentally ‘like’ and of your interviewers profile pictures from 2011.

Step 5: Practice makes perfect

Role plays are awkward and never much fun, but they’re probably one of the best ways to prepare. Practice does make perfect. Practice relating your experiences concisely and with a specific purpose (don’t be a rambler). Practice asking your prepared questions. Practice acting interested and making eye contact. Practice not saying words like “um”, “like”, “uh” or other fillers.

Taking some time to look at Facebook ‘likes’ could get you ‘liked’ during an interview. Photo from

Taking some time to look at Facebook ‘likes’ could get you ‘liked’ during an interview. Photo from

Although practice is more effective with another person, it doesn’t have to be done that way. If you don’t have a chance to practice one on one, try rehearsing in the car.


Written by Cory Gill

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