Lady sitting in front of computer looking as if she's talking on an interview.

How to Prepare to Crush Your Interview

Follow this 3-step process even if you’re perfect for a job.

Lady sitting in front of computer looking as if she's talking on an interview.
Photo by LinkedIn Sales Solutions on Unsplash

One important key to success is self-confidence. An important key to self-confidence is preparation. — Arthur Ashe

Dude, you’re a f*cking idiot.

That’s what I wanted to say to my friend but didn’t because he was already down on himself and not feeling great about not getting the job at the company he wanted.

However, I told him that his strategy of not spending time preparing was foolish, even though he had been an excellent fit for the job due to his numerous years of experience and track record.

The problem was that he thought that was enough to get the job, and when he got the rejection email after the interview that they “regretfully had to inform,” he was frustrated with himself for not taking it more seriously.

Regardless of how well your experience matches up with a job or how great you feel you are at interviewing and answering questions “off the dome,” you should always take the time to prepare for every interview.

There is a right way and wrong way to do this, however.

Therefore, in this third installment of TIFAR, I want to share this 3-step interview prep strategy that has served me well over the years to help you prepare to crush any interview.

Step 1: Write out your experience in detail and match it up to the job

When I was preparing for my interview with Meta some months ago, there was A LOT to take in.

In all transparency, I was also looking at similar roles at Amazon, so between the two, I was buried in research and preparation to make sure that I was not leaving any stone unturned as it related to presenting myself in the best light possible.

Meta and Amazon both have pretty high standards, but they also make sure to give the candidate all the information they need to prepare. Therefore, I had a large amount of information about precisely what they would be looking for and had to spend time making sure I could articulate it correctly.

To accomplish this, I leaned heavily on the STAR method in preparation for my answers and experience. The STAR method is an article in and of itself. Basically, it is a method of answering questions in which you use the format Situation, Task, Action, and Results to recall your experience for an interview.

I went through the interview prep and the job description to understand what they would be looking for regarding the skillset needed for the job. Then I went through my resume and physically typed out a story in this format that was able to answer said question.

I didn’t just outline it or think about it. I took the time to write it down in minute detail to ensure I wasn’t leaving any detail out. You want to do this because trying to remember everything you’ve done over the past few years can be challenging to do on the spot.

You may have all the experience in the world, but until you take the time to sit down, write it out, and walk through it, there are a lot of things that you may have forgotten that could add a lot of color and credibility to your interview that you definitely should mention.

Since you should be interviewing for the same type of roles, you don’t have to do this for each job you apply for, as the prep for one should also help with the prep for other roles. You just need to make sure you add any additional details to your preparation document if you’re interviewing for a position that is asking for some unique experience that the other may not.

After you get your background material on paper, you must take the time to do what some people hate.

Step 2: Practice, practice, and practice some more

While Allen Iverson wasn’t the biggest fan, very few things will help you more than practice at almost anything, and interviewing would be included in that category.

Making sure you spend time practicing your answers and can deliver them in a digestible and engaging manner for your audience will pay you back dividends when you are actually in the hot seat and have to deliver said information.

This is because people often don’t realize how long-winded they are in their answers. I’ve been on the other side of numerous interviews where you ask a person one question, and they continue talking for five minutes.

This is NOT a good thing.

Five minutes is an extremely long time in a 30-minute interview. Most answers should stay between 60–90 seconds, with some going into the 2–3 minute range only if the question is convoluted and has multiple parts.

Practicing to ensure that you know the material cold and can explain it in an engaging and succinct manner is important. It will ensure that you can wow the interviewer with your background and aren’t fumbling over yourself to remember details or rambling about other information that is not as relevant.

Practicing by yourself or role-playing with someone else will also help you see the holes in your story where additional information could be needed.

Sometimes, when you’re walking through the material out loud or role-playing with someone, it could lead to a mock question that naturally comes from you sharing your experience that you didn’t even think about covering before.

This ensures that you’re prepared for any follow-ups for possible directions the conversation could go, so you’re not caught off guard. This leads us to the last step, which will put a nice bow on your interview.

Step 3: Research the company and person to make connections

Make sure that you know enough about the company that answers the question, “Why (insert name of company)?”

I know this sounds simple, but when you are applying to 60 different jobs and interviewing for a handful of them, taking the time to get a sense of the company culture and philosophy can get lost in all the other things you’re doing.

Therefore, spending time diving into the “About Us” page and understanding the company’s history are vital for you to be ready to answer this question when asked.

This answer shouldn’t be generic, however, in that you should do MORE than talk about the company’s attributes.

Instead, you should be able to articulate how the philosophy and core values match up with your philosophy in work and life and why you feel that match would be the right fit based on what you believe and the type of environment in which you think you can thrive.

This will come across much more genuine and unique versus someone who just spouts off the company’s core values and history.

Second, research the person you’re interviewing with and get a sense of their background and any commonalities you may have.

You should do this for primarily two reasons. 1. It helps establish possible rapport with the person if you have something in common that you can talk about and make a personal connection, and 2. It shows that you are the type of candidate who goes the extra mile to identify information that the average person wouldn’t.

While this isn’t directly related to your overall fit for the job, it indirectly is because it shows you are the type of person willing to put in that little extra effort that can go a long way in almost anything in life.

And while I can’t promise that this will allow you to get every role you have the opportunity to interview for, at least you’ll know you put in the hard work and preparation to ensure you gave it your best shot, and no one can think you’re an idiot of any kind.