By Julia Malacoff

Getting ready for a big job interview can be stressful, and the best thing you can do to calm your nerves is to ensure you’re adequately prepared. Improvising responses and questions on the spot works for some people, but there’s no reason to leave it up to chance, especially if you have your heart set on a new gig. We’ve simplified your prep work into eight foolproof steps, so you can walk into the interview armed with the information and confidence you need to seal the deal.

Step 1: Get Acquainted With the Basics

If you haven’t done so already, look up the company you’re interviewing with on Glassdoor to get an idea of what they do, how big the company is, who their competitors are and what their business model is. How do they make money? What’s their core mission? What are their corporate values? You should be able to answer all these questions before heading into an interview with them. 

Step 2: Research Your Interviewers

If you know who you’ll be meeting with, look them up and learn about their professional background. Find out what their role at the company entails in as much detail as you can, as well as what previous positions they may have held. This will help you ask more intelligent, insightful questions during the interview, showing that you’re an informed candidate.

Step 3: Get Your Q&As Straight

On that note, come prepared with a few thoughtful questions for each interviewer so that you don’t feel pressured to think of them spontaneously. It’s also a good idea to review commonly asked interview questions, and consider what your answers would be. You can also check out the company’s Glassdoor interviews page to see what previous interviewees have been asked.

Step 4: Practice Makes Perfect

After you’ve done the prep work, rehearse your responses to questions you anticipate being asked, either by writing them out or having a friend or family member ask them. There’s no need to memorize a script, but practicing can help ensure you feel comfortable talking about your experience, skills, challenges and insights.

Step 5: Pack Your Bag and Plan Your Outfit

Get prepared with a professional-looking bag or backpack packed with copies of your resume, your portfolio, a notebook, a pen and anything else you think you might need for the interview.

Pick out what you’ll wear at least a day ahead of time, so you don’t have to worry about it the morning of. If you’re not sure what to wear, check out photos of the office on Glassdoor or the company’s website, then dress yourself a step above whatever you see online. For example, if everyone seems to wear jeans and T-shirts to the office, you definitely don’t want to show up in a suit, but perhaps you’d want to wear a nice pair of dress pants and a button-down shirt. This shows respect for the formality of an interview, but helps you avoid looking overdressed and out of place.

Step 7: Plan Your Route

If you’re heading into the office for an in-person meeting, make sure you have your route and method of transport mapped out. If you’ve never been to the area where the interview is before, you can even do a test run to see how long it will take you to get there. On the day of, be sure to add in buffer time in case of traffic, slow train service or other delays. If applicable, be sure you have also thought through how you’ll deal with stepping away from your current job duties should the interview occur during your normal work hours.

Step 8: Eat, Sleep and Relax

Getting enough sleep and eating well in the days leading up to your interview is crucial when it comes to being at the top of your game. It’s normal to be nervous before a big meeting, but don’t let that stop you from getting good shuteye the night before and some high quality, nutritious meals beforehand.

If you’re struggling to get to that calm, focused state of mind that allows you to make the best possible impression, try whatever relaxation techniques usually work for you, whether it’s meditating, listening to a podcast, watching your favorite TV show or fitting in a high-intensity workout. Now go out there and crush your interview!

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