How to Prepare for a Job Interview

If you’re looking for ways to overcome those nervous jitters before your next big job interview, consider a few tips from Elizabeth Cassidy, Patagonia’s HR Manager. Elizabeth spoke to college students and staff on the campus of the University of Nevada, Reno as part of a 30 Minute Success series offered by the Northern Nevada Human Resources Association (NNHRA) on April 10, 2014.

Here are eight key tips to help you prepare for a job interview:

  1. Preparation is key. Visit the company’s website and get a sense of the company culture. If the CEO has written a book, read it. Job candidates often fail to do enough research prior to an interview and can be taken off guard when they are asked why they chose to interview for a particular position at a company. It may be helpful to contact the recruiter or HR contact ahead of time and ask what kind of attire is appropriate for the interview. For example, at Patagonia, it may not be necessary to wear a suit to the interview, but the hiring manager may be interested to know if you use Patagonia’s products and participate in outdoor activities. Even if attire is informal, don’t be too laid back during the interview.
  2. Practice. Job hunting websites list many interview questions. Behavioral questions are common. For example, “How have you handled a difficult problem in your past jobs?” Be ready to give specific answers. Other questions might pertain to experience: “Tell me about a dysfunctional team you were on. What role did you play? Did you make the deadline?” Scenario questions are also common: “How would you handle an angry customer?” It is helpful to practice your answers out loud or rehearse with a friend prior to the interview. UNR also offers free practice web interviews at
  3. Everyone is interviewing you. Be aware that your interview begins as soon as you come into view, so make a good impression on the receptionist. Elizabeth said that she asks her receptionist to mark “smiley faces” on resumes of candidates who are personable and who make a good first impression as soon as they walk in the door.
  4. Be on time. It is helpful to allow enough time to find the interview location, park, and collect yourself before the interview. If you have questions about timing and location, contact the recruiter in advance. Candidates who arrive late may throw off the interview schedule and may not even be given a chance to interview.
  5. Tell the truth. If you have had a challenging boss in the past, be truthful about it in your interview, but don’t provide excessive detail. Highlight what you learned from the experience and don’t focus too much on negative experiences.
  6. Pay attention not only to what you are saying, but to your body language. Many hiring managers make their decision within the first few minutes of meeting you. Although you may be nervous, don’t stare at your lap. At the same time, don’t get into a staring match with your interviewer, either.
  7. Answer the questions directly. If you are unsure about a question, it is acceptable to ask the interviewer to repeat it; however don’t ask for continuous repeats. Demonstrate that you are listening and don’t ramble.
  8. Bring good questions for your interviewers. Interviewers like to tell their success stories, so it is acceptable to ask about how he or she came to work for the company and what role he or she plays there. Who would you work with? How did the position become open? If you have questions about pay and benefits, run them by the recruiter; don’t ask the interviewer. Pay can be discussed later if you are offered the job.

If all goes well, reiterate how much you admire the company and think you would do well working there.

Good luck!

Gina Akao

Gina Akao is the owner of Writing and Editing Today, and provides social media management and builds WordPress websites and blogs for authors and small business owners. To learn more about her products and services, please visit

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