Interview Preparation Guide

You updated your resume... Now what?  StaffBuffalo, LLC has compiled our favorite pieces of advice to help you prepare for before, during, and after your in-person interviews!

Before the Interview:

  1. Research the company and the position BEFORE you even apply for the role.
    • Google, google, google! Read news releases, check out the company’s social media profiles, blogs, and LinkedIn.  Go directly to the company’s website and read their mission statement, see what makes them a top employer, and find out more about the company’s “personality” to see if the company may be the right culture fit for you.
    • Note: During the interview process, this research will help you ask pointed questions to see if the company, culture, and position would be a good fit for you long-term.
  2. Reach out to a Recruiter at StaffBuffalo to see if they know more about a targeted company and position. If you do not have a targeted company/position, the recruiter will be able to guide you. StaffBuffalo has numerous contacts and can give you valuable insight on different opportunities. 
    • If a Recruiter can submit your resume to a position, it will be more successful than if you simply apply online.
    • Casually network with individuals that work at the targeted company.  Ask them questions about their job and how they like it there to help you determine if the company is a good fit for you.
  3. Network with professionals in your industry to paint a landscape of the local job market.
  4. Contact at least 5 people to set up a list of references.  Make sure you have their updated contact information, so that you are able to produce the list quickly.  Focus on former Managers/Supervisors, not just personal friends, and notify them in advance that you are utilizing them as a reference.
    • Be sure to include full name, current title, current organization, telephone number, and email address.  
    • Include a brief description of how you know the Reference: nature of your relationship, the company you worked at together, the title you held at the time, their title at the time, and any other applicable information that may guide the conversation.
  5. Review your social media presence and make sure that nothing posted is offensive.
  6. Make sure you have a professional email address.
  7. Set up a LinkedIn profile.  This is a fantastic source for building networks! 
  8. Check your voicemail, make sure it is set up with a professional outgoing message, and ensure that your mailbox is not full.
  9. After you submit your resume, do not repeatedly follow up with the hiring managers/recruiters.  This will greatly reduce your chances of being considered for an interview.
    • Typically wait a week to follow up with a potential employer after your resume is submitted. 

Prepare for the Interview:

Ok, you took all the proper steps and YES, you get the in-person interview!! Now you have to prepare for the Interview...

  1. Freshen up your research on the Company and position.
  2. Locate the interviewers on LinkedIn and research their background. 
    • You may find that you worked at the same company in the past or volunteer for similar causes.  
    • Do not reference people you have in common on LinkedIn because they may not personally know the LinkedIn individual, which could become awkward.
    • Prepare questions specific to each interviewer: Ask what their focus is within the organization, discuss current events within their professional focus, or bring up a common interest that you identified.
  3. Someone will be setting up your interview from the corporate side, whether it is an internal recruiter, external recruiter, HR, or the Hiring Manager.  Ask that person the following questions, so that you can properly prepare (StaffBuffalo will provide these for you):
    • What is the address of the interview location?
    • Who should I ask for when I arrive?
    • Who will I be meeting with (names and titles)?
    • What is the dress code?
    • Are there special parking/entrance instructions that I should be aware of?
    • Would you like me to prepare anything else in advance?
  4. Lay out your interview outfit in advance – keep it conservative and basic.  
    • If the office is business or business casual dress code, wear a suit.  Black suits should only be worn to funerals, so invest in a different color suit.  If you do not have a suit, wear dress slacks and a button up shirt with a blazer or sweater.  For women, you can wear a standard business dress and a sweater or blazer.
    • If the office is extremely casual, still dress up!  If you are encouraged to wear jeans, make sure there are no holes and that the jeans are a darker denim color.  Pair with a button up shirt or sweater.
    • Make sure your outfit is cleaned, pressed, up-to-date, and tailored.
    • Try the entire outfit on to make sure it fits and examine for holes or loose hems.
    • Choose closed toe shoes over open toe shoes in a simple color that coordinates with your outfit.
  5. Do not wear excessive jewelry, cologne/perfume, makeup, or chew gum.  You don’t want anything distracting the interviewer from your ability to do the job.
  6. Tidy up your appearance: get a fresh haircut, clean/manicure your nails, and groom facial hair.  You want to be looking and feeling your best to exude confidence!
  7. Print out multiple copies of your resume on professional paper.  If you know how many people you are interviewing with, print up that many resumes plus 3 – one for you and two extras.
  8. Bring a portfolio, a folder, or at least a pad of paper for notes.  It is worth investing in a professional portfolio, where you can store extra copies of your resume, your reference list, your question list, a legal pad to take notes, an area for your business cards, and a pen.
  9. Have an emergency kit on hand for an unexpected situations: Band-Aids, stain stick, mending kit, and mints.
  10. Have an extra outfit ready to go in case something happens the morning of the interview, so that you can quickly change and not miss a step.
  11. Review and commit your resume to memory.  
    • Think about your skills and accomplishments and be prepared to work them into the interview through examples and answers to the interview questions.
    • Review the positive and negative progression of your career, reasons why you left each role, and the things that you learned.
  12. Always have a non-cliché response to cliché interview questions: “What are your strengths?”, “What are your weaknesses?”, “Tell me about yourself.”, “Tell me a time when you overcame a challenge and how did you do it?”, “Why would you be a good fit for this position?”
  13. Be prepared to “sell” yourself by being able to articulate why you are a good fit for the organization and why you are a good fit for the position.
  14. REMEMBER, you are interviewing the company as much as you are being interviewed.  Ask questions that will help determine if the company is a good fit for you!
  15. Practice interviewing with a friend, or at the very least, in a mirror.  This will help you phrase your questions/answers properly, clarify your thoughts, and you will be more comfortable in the interview.
  16. Have questions prepared in advance, but do not ask them if the interviewer already answered the question (it looks like you were not listening).  While you are listening to the interviewer, either jot down questions for later or ask right away.
  17. Focus on your posture and your attentiveness during the interview.  You don’t want to cross your arms or blankly stare while interviewing.

After the Interview:

  1. Send a “Thank You” email within 12 hours of the interview and make sure that each email is different to each interviewer.  You do not want them forwarding the same email to one another.
  2. Do NOT follow up excessively.  If the interviewer let you know that if you do not hear from them by X date to contact them, then you can contact them.  If they do not leave that door open, do not call and email.  You do not want to seem needy or overanxious for the role after you send the “Thank you” email.

Still haven't submitted your resume? Apply today!