10 Pieces of Advice on Interview Prep

Everybody wants to be as prepared as they can for an interview; that’s why we gobble up advice about interview prep and how to put your best foot forward. But if you’ve ever felt like the personal aspect of interview prep is lacking—what to say, how to keep calm—we don’t blame you. That’s why we’ve created a handy guide for the personal side of your interview process. Just follow these simple steps!

1. Read our Interview Prep Guide

If you haven’t already—and we hope you have! — this post can help with a lot of your pre-interview anxiety. From figuring out logistics to travel details, our “How to Prepare for an Interview” guide covers everything you need to think of, and then some. And you might also want to check out our post on the #1 interview tip most people never consider! But now, on to the personal side.

2. Travel Prep

If you live downtown and your interview is downtown, that’s awesome! You can prepare in the comfort of your own home. But most people are likely going to be traveling somewhere, often with the prospect of starting a new adventure in a new town. And if that describes you, then you want to minimize the wear and tear of travel as much as possible. If your schedule allows, we recommend traveling the day before and scheduling an interview in the morning. This will help you get a good night’s sleep and be refreshed and ready for your interview. It also saves you from dealing with unexpected travel delays and stress!

3. Dress for Success

This one’s an oldie but a goodie, and it never goes out of style. This is where our recommendation to research your future company comes in handy, because the more you learn about company culture and the day-to-day life of its employees, the more you’ll understand about their office dress code. To stay on the safe side, we suggest dressing at least one level above what you believe the daily dress code of your interviewers will be.

4. Bring at Least 3 Copies of your Resume

In our “How to Prepare for an Interview” guide, we suggest checking with your interviewer to see if you’ll need additional copies of your resume. However, if you’re traveling, it’s best to be overprepared. So, even if you’ve already submitted your resume or you don’t think you’ll need it today, go the extra mile and bring three copies anyway. Why three? We think it’s a good number to account for all eventualities, like being interviewed by more people than you expected, or misplacing the only copy you brought. If you have a few extra, you’re extra prepared!  

5. Know your Stuff

(And keep it simple). When you want to blow the interviewers away, it can be tough to narrow down all the information you want to give them. That’s why you should brainstorm 3-5 key points you want them to remember when you leave. Maybe it’s your experience, your education, or your awesome qualifications that make you stand out. Whatever it is, you’re unique and you want them to remember that. So, keep it simple and narrow it down to a few key points that you can come back to throughout the interview, driving home the top three (or even five) reasons why you’re the best guy for the job.

However, it’s also important to keep in mind that you can’t be all things to all people. There may be certain aspects of their interests or position that you can’t connect with, and that’s okay. Instead of faking experience you don’t have, highlight the assets you do possess and blow them away with that.

6. Be Early

But not too early! Arriving 5-10 minutes early is best because it gives you enough time to find out where you’re going and catch your breath before the interview, while avoiding being so early that it’s awkward. If you can’t be there 10 minutes in advance, that’s okay, but always, always shoot for 5. Later than that is a little too close to late, which doesn’t inspire a lot of confidence for your future shifts.

7. Be Curious!

Take a look around the office where you’re being interviewed and show interest in what you see. If your interviewer has family pictures up, ask about her family. Or maybe they have an awards certificate or famous artwork on their walls. Either way, show some interest and try to connect with your interviewer by showing you see them as a person.

8. Remember Names

If you’re like me, this one may be a little tricky, but do your best. Remembering someone’s name shows you’re paying attention and you respect them, and it’s a great way to make a good first impression. Obviously, you should remember your interviewer’s name, but go the extra mile with the receptionist and others who interact with you through the interview. Kindness always leads to a positive first impression.

9. Give Yourself some Time

Unless your schedule absolutely does not allow it, leave some wiggle room in your travel plans in case the interview goes longer than you expected. There’s always a chance that you could be offered an impromptu lunch or tour of the office, and you don’t want to miss those things! You might even be offered the opportunity to shadow someone doing a job similar to the position you applied for, and you really don’t want to rush out on that valuable opportunity. Though that may not happen with every interview, where possible, you should leave room for the chance that it might.

10. Follow Up!

This is the cardinal rule of interviews and you’ve probably heard it before, but we figure it’s always worth saying again. Many people assume that showing up to an interview is an indication that they’re interested, and nothing more is needed. Wrong! Showing up is the bare minimum you’re expected to do for an interview. Following up shows your interest in the job and your appreciation for the opportunity. 

And though you’re probably familiar with the follow-up email, we always advocate going the extra mile with a handwritten thank-you note. We know handwritten notes are a dying art, but that’s exactly why they’re so meaningful. Taking time to write out a note instead of just firing off an email shows that you’re a thoughtful, conscientious person who respects this opportunity. And that’s exactly the message you want to send. 




Tim Hammerich

Tim is a strategic communications consultant, founder of AgGrad, and the host of the "Future of Agriculture" podcast. Originally from California, he is now based out of Boise, Idaho.