Your career is what you make of it, and putting in the extra effort from the moment you land that interview sets you off on the right foot. It’s not just about putting on your best interview outfit and a smile before you meet the hiring managers. The best interviewees are the ones who know the company and its goals while being able to clearly demonstrate how they will contribute to its overall success.

Prepare and Practice

For a lot of us, it’s not so easy to get over the butterflies before you meet with hiring managers, but that nervousness is easily spotted, possibly making you look weak. The keys to being ready for your big interview are preparation and practice. To prepare, do your homeworkand look into what potential questions interviewers present in your field. Look over industry topics that may be brought up so you aren’t caught off guard not knowing what they’re talking about. And, of course, have your resume and portfolio professionally printedso you have easy access to your work history in case it comes up during the interview.

One way to prepare is to have a friend lend a hand. Write out interview questions you expect to be asked and role play with your companion until you’re comfortable giving the answers that demonstrate your unique qualities. Once you feel comfortable, step away. Over-rehearsingcan end with you sounding insincere and fake, which can be just as bad a deterrent as being underprepared.

How to Learn about a Company

Unless it’s a startup in its very early stages, you should be able to find out a lotabout the company’s values and goals through online resources like their webpage and social media accounts. Business accounts for platforms like Facebook and Twitter are great resources when you want to get a feel for “who” the company is. Notice the tone of the copy and any outside-industry posts they make that possibly reflect the culture. Aligning yourself with the company identity from the get-go communicates to hiring managers that you’re a great fit.

Reviewsfrom former employees on sites like Glassdoor and Indeed can be helpful, but note that reviews do not reflect objective quality. Rather, reviews are highly subjective, capricious, and circumstantial. Furthermore, only a tiny subset of people actually leave them compared to the actual number of those who have worked for the company. Feel free to gloss over former employee reviews, but take them with a grain of salt.

The Day of the Interview

When it’s finally time for the big show, make sure you are well-rested, well-groomed, and presentable. Have at least five copies of your resume, a list of references, and your portfolio if you have one. Go over your notes and possible questions so they are fresh on your mind. It also helps to come up with a go-to transition phrase that you can use when you’re trying to catch your thoughts. Instead of letting dead air between the question and answer, fill it with something like “Now, that is a great question. I think I would have to say….

Another thing that can really help before a big interview: meditation. While the word may conjure up images of New Age practitioners and yoga classes, the truth is some of the most successful business people in the world meditate on a daily basis. Before you leave for your interview, sit in comfort and concentrate on your breath. Set your intention to succeed in your interview and land that dream job. Any negative thoughts or emotions that pop up during your meditation should be recognized then dismissed. After about 10 to 20 minutes of mindful meditation, you’ll be ready for your interview.

Interviewing for your dream job is nerve-wracking, but you can land the job if you walk in prepared. Do diligent research not just on the company’s products and services, but also their company culture and values. Wrangle a friend to help you with practice interview questions but avoid over-rehearsing. Finally, put yourself in the right headspace before you meet with hiring managers by meditating on your intention to get that job you want.

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