Interview Preparation Guide

Are you ready to land that job? You’ve got the interview, so how do you prepare for it? How do you answer the tough questions? What should you wear? Apex Career Services has come up with tips to help you prepare for success! Let’s face it, interviewing for a job can be a very stressful event. However, it does not have to be.

The goal of the APEX Career Services professionals is to help you interview smarter, and with little to no stress. Remember, YOU have been chosen to interview, so the company already sees value in you. That alone should be enough to calm your nerves a little. You will need to prepare as much as possible to ensure success.

An interview is nothing more than a conversation between you and the interviewer. The purpose is to get to know you better. The more prepared and relaxed you are, the better you will do.

You should approach a job interview like a personal marketing/branding campaign. This is your opportunity to sell yourself and what YOU have to offer your potential employer. In order to achieve interview success; you must have a plan in place to

  • Predict
  • Prepare
  • Practice

It is important that you Predict what the job responsibilities might be, who will be interviewing you, and possible interview questions and situations. Research and familiarize yourself with the job description as much as possible, as you will be expected to meet and exceed the core competencies.

Prepare for the Unpredictable

Prepare stories and responses to possible questions and scenarios. Think of resources that are available to you such as company websites, people who know about the job, annual reports, press releases, YouTube videos, Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter pages, job descriptions, etc. Review your interview stories prior to the interview.

Taking the time to prepare for a job interview is like preparing for a presentation. The better organized and knowledgeable you are about the subject or environment, the more confident you’ll be and the more likely you’ll be able to react to any situation or question.

Know the Company – Learn all you can about the industry, the company, and the position for which you are applying. You’ll score points if you ask well thought out questions.

Know Yourself – Ask yourself, “How do my qualifications complement this position?” Be prepared to share work experience and demonstrate how your character and skills would benefit the company.

Practice your responses to interview questions – Your responses should be organized, convey a positive attitude, and communicate the value-added qualities YOU bring to the company.

Perfect Paperwork – Proof, double, and triple proof any additional information you bring with you to the interview such as letters of recommendation, personal reference information, or portfolio/work examples.

Letter of Recommendation

If requested, the letter of recommendation should be written by an employer, coworker or professional contact. It serves as a written reference for your past accomplishments and on-the- job performance.

Personal References

Personal references also speak to your attributes and on-the-job performance. Include current or former coworkers and bosses as references; but check with them first to insure they will be good references. A common question for references will be, “Would you hire this person?” Keep this in mind when choosing someone for a reference.

Portfolio/Work Examples

Should the job interview require you to bring a portfolio or work examples, be sure they are well organized, appropriate for the position, and illustrate your range of expertise.

What to Wear

Make a good first impression by dressing appropriately for the position you’re seeking.

When interviewing for a professional office position, wear a well-pressed suit, or professional clothing of choice. Dress modestly and avoid excessive cologne, jewelry, or makeup. Look clean and polished.

If you are wondering whether it is unprofessional to bring your backpack to an interview – you surely can! As long as the backpack is of the appropriate style and design, you can carry your backpack. Small or medium-sized, professional backpacks would be ideal for the situation.

What if they ask… “If you were an animal, what would you be?”

A common interview topic is: “Tell me about you,” or something similar. Think about what the interviewer is really interested in knowing about you, for example:

  • Your work style
  • Your interests
  • Job-specific issues or problems that you’ve resolved, how you resolved them
  • Work history, including why you left each position
  • What you learned from previous jobs or positions
  • Major accomplishments and contributions to the success of other companies you’ve worked for

More Tips

  • Make eye contact when speaking.
  • Be relaxed, yet engaged.
  • Be enthusiastic, yet sincere.
  • Show confidence in yourself and your abilities, without sounding arrogant.
  • Unless you are certain the employer is interested in hiring you, save salary, vacation, bonuses, and retirement benefits discussions until after the initial interview. If the interviewer asks what salary you want, indicate what you’ve earned.
  • Ask for business cards from each person you meet with.
  • Be on time! Plan for traffic delays, parking issues, and slow elevators. Arrive a few minutes early. If unfamiliar with the location of the company, take a drive there the night before the interview.

After the Interview

Often overlooked, follow-up is the final step in the interview process. It’s good etiquette and reinforces your interest in the position.

Remember the business cards you asked for? They come in handy for sending a simple thank- you letter to each person with whom you met at the company. Isn’t that what business cards are used for? People who carry business cards utilize the services from somewhere like Printivity ( for that very reason; to network and to meet other people who they can connect with at some point in the future. So, keeping hold of this information will be important when you want to send a note to the people who you’ve met. In your message, summarize your conversation and re-emphasize the skills you would bring to the position. This small gesture can be the difference between the interviewer remembering you or another candidate. Need help with interview preparation coaching? Get started online at

interview preparation guide