The job interview: one of the most nerve-wracking experiences in modern civilization. You have to dress and act your best, answer perfectly, and still, somehow, just be yourself. Seeing how difficult and sweat-inducing this can be, it is surprising that so many people fail to prepare properly.

Well, as with so many things, proper performance in an interview begins with adequate preparation. Thankfully, it isn’t like preparing for the Olympics. A couple hours may be all you need to get ready. To get started, try these five job interview tips:

1. Research the organization you’re interviewing with.

Companies love it when you actually care enough to know what they do and where they’ve been. It shows that you are genuinely interested in joining their team, not just in getting any job. It also shows that you have enough passion for what they do to do your homework.

Luckily, researching companies is pretty easy online. Sites like Glassdoor and Hoovers are made specifically to help jobseekers like you find out all the basics about the companies they’re interested in. Also, if you are close to a college campus, you can access volumes of books with tons of insider information on major companies.

2. Practice answering commonly used interview questions.

Although there tend to be zingers that individual interviewers will favor, there are also questions that everyone uses, like, “Tell me about yourself,” or “What would you say is your biggest weakness?” You can get your mind in the game by running through these questions ahead of time and formulating the best answers.

For a list of frequently asked interview questions, check out this post we did on the subject. This will definitely be enough to get you started.

3. Create a cheat sheet.

Not only is it good idea to bring a pad of paper into your interview, but it’s also a great opportunity to provide a cheat sheet for yourself. Namely, you can write down all your answers to those commonly asked interview questions. Also, you may want to write down a few bits of information you’ve discovered about the company and any questions you may have for them.

As long as you don’t just read off your cheat sheet, it can be a great way to keep your thoughts straight during the interview.

4. Gather intel from friends.

Websites are great for company information, but they can’t tell you up-to-the-minute information about what is happening inside the company. But a friend on the inside can. They can give you invaluable insight into what the company is working on, why they’re hiring, etc., so you walk into the interview knowing exactly what they want to hear.

If you have a friend that works at the company, take the time to get the skinny from them before you go into your interview. If you don’t, LinkedIn can be a great way to make those kinds of friends in a short amount of time.

5. Lay out your outfit the night before.

Finally, you’ve probably heard again and again about the importance of looking your best in an interview, but it bears repeating here. The last thing you want is to be pulling your outfit out of the washer twenty minutes before your interview, trying to find a pair of earrings that match, or spit-polishing your shoes as you drive to your appointment. This takes your mind off more important things and causes you to arrive frazzled and completely unprepared to give a first impression.

So take the time to lay out your outfit the night before. Watch for any wrinkles, scuffs, tears, or stains you may need to take care of before your big appointment. Then, with your outfit all planned out, get a good night’s rest and cruise to your interview, knowing that you are ready to shine.

So are you ready for your interview? What did you do to prepare? Share in the comments below!

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