10 Tips to Crush Any Job Interview

Interviews don’t have to be scary.

by Andrew RanzingerLast updated: 04/17/2021

Unless your dad owns a company, you’re going to have to interview to get a job—often many times.

Typically, there are at least two rounds of interviews for any position: a Zoom or phone interview, followed by an in-person interview.

Even then, you still may not get the job, so learning to interview well is a critical career skill.

For many people interviewing is the most uncomfortable part of job hunting, but it doesn’t have to be.

With proper preparation, you can calm your nerves and sound like a seasoned pro—even if this is your first real job.

Here are 10 key tips to crush any interview:

1. Do your research

The more you know, the more confident you’ll feel, so learn as much about the company as you can ahead of time.

Learn how they started, what products or services they offer, and who their competition is.

Understand their business model. Look through their website and read any news about them. If they’ve had any recent awards or milestones, make a note of them.

You’ll be able to draw on all this information in the interview. You may even get asked a pointed question to see if you did your research.

2. Prepare good answers ahead of time

Most interviews will contain different versions of the same questions. Questions like:

  • “Tell me about yourself.” 
  • “Why should we hire you?”
  • “What are your biggest strengths/weaknesses?”

Prepare answers for many of the most common interview questions

The process of developing and practicing answers to standard questions will help you create a mental library of content—concrete examples, past experiences, stories, and even certain phrases—that you can draw on to answer many different questions.

Another tip: When answering questions about your experience or skills, use the STAR method—Situation, Task, Action, Result.

3. Review the job description

Take another look at the job description. Prepare to talk about any of the skills or experience they mention looking for in a candidate.

If you don’t have some of the skills listed, that’s okay—job descriptions are unrealistic wish lists anyway.

Just make sure you can talk about why other experiences or skills you have will enable you to learn those quickly.

4. Role-play

Interviews can be nerve-racking when you aren’t used to them. One of the best ways to prepare is to role-play a real interview with a friend, family member, or guidance counselor. 

There’s a big difference between answering a question in your head and doing it out loud to another person.

Even though the person you role play with is on your side, you might be surprised at how nervous you feel at first doing this. 

It’s why role-playing is great practice.

5. Prepare some good questions

Most interviewers will ask if you have any questions at the end of an interview. Saying “no” will just make you look incurious and unengaged. Don’t do that.

Instead, have a list of at least five questions you can ask your interviewers based on the situation.

Here are some good ones:

  • What are the characteristics of someone who would succeed in this role?
  • What’s the most important thing I could do to make a difference within the first 90 days?
  • What does the career path for someone in this role look like?
  • What new skills can I hope to learn here?
  • If you could improve one thing about the company, what would it be?

Here’s some more inspiration and guidance:

The 17 Best Questions to Ask Your InterviewerThe Most Impressive Job Interview Question to Ask

6. Be ready to talk money

Hiring managers and executives will often try and gauge your salary expectations during an interview to make sure they are in line with their budget.

Don’t let a salary question catch you off guard. If you give a number that’s exceptionally lower or higher than the market value of the position, it shows you don’t know your worth. 

Do your research ahead of time. Use sites like Glassdoor, Salary.com, and Indeed to find out what candidates in their city with your experience and skills make for the role you want. 

Geography is important here since salaries are highly location-dependent. Make sure your numbers are for the city you’d be working in, and not industry averages.

Always give a range, never a specific number. 

Here’s an example of a good reply to the salary question (change the numbers to fit your role and research).

“Considering my skill set and the current market, I’d expect something between $43,000 and $51,000, depending on the benefits package. Is that in line with what you are considering offering?”

7. Dress appropriately

A good rule is to dress one level above what you'd wear to work if you got the job.

For example, if this is a company where people wear t-shirts, wear business casual to the interview. If business casual is standard attire, wear a suit. 

When in doubt, overdress. It’s far better to be overdressed than underdressed.

But how will you know what people wear at the company?

When you receive an invitation to attend an in-person interview, ask whoever sent the invitation, "Just so I'm prepared, what is the typical dress code at [Company Name]?"

8. Make an interview-day checklist

There are a few things you should be sure to bring to every in-person interview:

  • Physical copies of your resume in a folder
  • A notebook
  • Pens

Copies of your resume are always handy. Your interviewers may have lost theirs, or may ask additional people to join the interview.

Having some extra resumes to share saves time and is always appreciated. 

A notebook allows you to jot down important information, and signals you’re prepared and serious.

9. Show up early (but not too early)

This is critical. There’s no worse way to start an interview than being late.

It makes a bad impression on the interviewers, and it makes you start the interview flustered and embarrassed.

For phone or video interviews, make sure you’re in your spot and ready to go early with your mic and camera tested.

For in-person interviews, plan for travel and traffic to take longer than you think they will. You might take a wrong turn. Parking could be a nightmare. You may suddenly have to use the restroom when you arrive.

Look up the route ahead of time. Plan where you’ll park. Allow plenty of extra time. If you arrive more than 15 minutes early, don't check in that early.

Your interviewer may be in meetings or have other arrangements that could be interrupted if they are notified you are already there. Being too early can also be a bad look.

10. Send a thank-you email

After the interview, follow up with a brief thank-you email. It’s a classy touch, keeps you top of mind, and gives you one more chance to pitch yourself.

Keep it short and sweet, and send it within 24 hours of your interview. In general, you should:

  • Thank them for their time
  • Mention what excites you about the role
  • Touch on why you think you’d be the perfect fit
  • Express the hope that things move forward

Here’s a template you can use:

Hi Patricia,Thanks so much for taking the time to meet with me earlier today. Our conversation about the Marketing Manager position was inspiring, and it was fantastic to learn more about the role.It sounds like an exciting job, especially given ABC Company’s growth plans for next year, and I think my digital marketing skills would allow me to add a lot of value.Thanks again for the opportunity, and I hope to hear from you soon.Best regards,Your Name

Here’s more guidance and inspiration on writing the post-interview thank-you email:

4 Sample Thank-You Emails for After an Interview

You’re ready

Proper preparation is the key to interviewing well. Follow these steps, and you’ll consistently impress hiring managers and recruiters. You’ll feel calmer, give better answers, and make great impressions.

Now go out there and crush some interviews.