You’ve accomplished the hardest step of the job application process: landing an interview. According to Forbes, only 20% of job applicants receive an offer to interview after they have applied.  The interview is the biggest opportunity a candidate has to stand out and show that they are the best choice for the position.

Here are some simple tips to ensure you are set up for a successful interview with any organization:


Research, Research, Research

When walking into an interview, you should be familiar with what the organization does, its largest competitors, prominent individuals in the company, and the basic responsibilities of the position. While these data points may seem obvious, it’s shocking how many candidates are rejected simply because they didn’t browse the company website or social media to get a base overview.


Dress to Impress

You only get to make a first impression once. When interviewing, your attire should always err on the formal side, but take a moment to check out the company’s social media to determine dress code and culture. Then, dress one level above the standard. If employees dress business casual day-to-day, you should be decked out in full formal business wear. If employees tend to show up in jeans and a t-shirt, polished business casual is appropriate.


Arrive Prepared

It is nearly impossible to over pack for an interview. At minimum, you should arrive with a copy of all materials that you submitted to the company during the application process, including your resume, cover letter, reference letters, and examples of your work if applicable. Bring a pen and notepad as well to keep track of questions, notes, company and contact information, or if nothing else, to simply show the interviewer that you thought ahead.


Slow and Steady

Let’s face it, interviews are one of life’s most anxiety-inducing events. The desire to impress and earn a position at your dream company can often lead individuals to rush through interview answers without taking pause to really think through what they are saying. You may have prepared these answers ahead of time, but this is the first time that the interviewer is hearing them. Take a deep breath and slow down to give the interviewer the chance to hear and take in your responses. Remember, they would not spend the time or resources interviewing you if they did not see you as a potential fit for the organization. Breathe, smile, and communicate with confidence.


Ask Questions

One of the worst mistakes a job candidate can make when asked, “Do you have any questions?” is saying no. Asking questions demonstrates that you did your research, paid attention during the conversation, and want to know more about the company and position. Prior to the interview, prepare a list of intelligent yet practical questions to ask the interviewer. These questions do not have to be in-depth inquiries. A simple, “What is the day-to-day culture of the company like?”, or “You mentioned that the previous individual in this role had been working on X project, could you share a bit more about that?” shows that you are interested and care.


Follow Up

As soon as you exit your interview, you should be thinking through what to write in your follow up message to the interviewer. While a thank you note may seem old-fashion, 57% of resume rejections are from a lack of follow up from the candidate. The message can be handwritten or digital, but must be personalized and show appreciation for the interviewer’s time.


There are times, however, that you can be perfectly prepared, excellently dressed, confidently inquisitive, and still will not receive an offer. Do not be discouraged, and instead take your experience as a learning opportunity and practice for the next interview invitation. If appropriate, contact the interviewer to ask for some pointers. Stay sharp, stay positive, and stay collected. The right opportunity will be heading your way in no time.