The days before a job interview can be super stressful, particularly if you really want (or need!) to land the gig. Your nerves can easily get the better of you when you're trying to anticipate the questions that'll be fired at you and the mood of the hiring manager. But while you already know you need to check out the company's website and choose your best outfit, you might not realize that there are other important steps you can take to prep for an interview. We talked to human resources executives, consultants, and hiring managers themselves to round up the best tips to help you nail your next job interview. Here's what you need to do before the big meeting:
1. Facebook-stalk the hiring manager. Sounds obvious, but Kelly Hadous, CEO and founder of Win The Room, a strategic communications and public speaking company, recommends looking at every social network your potential new boss is on, such as Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, Instagram, Pinterest, and LinkedIn. The goal? To learn about your interviewer's education, accomplishments, interests, and hobbies. "You should even take a look at their family pictures if you can find them," says Hadous. "Digging up as much info as you can will help you figure out how to best communicate with this person and create a relationship with him or her during the interview."
2. Eat lunch at the company's cafeteria. If you've got time, this is a great way to get a feel for the types of employees who work at the company, and make a mental note of what they're wearing. "Take note of how your potential colleagues dress and imitate that look when you go in for your interview," says Heidi Nazarudin, a former CEO of a Nasdaq-listed company.
3. Prepare a list of questions you'll ask during your interview. "People always come with standard questions like 'How long do you expect your search process to take?' and 'When can I expect hear from you?'" says Sara Sutton Fell, the CEO and founder of FlexJobs who's worked with hundreds of human resources departments to improve hiring practices. "But I'm always pleasantly surprised when someone asks more thoughtful questions, like if the interviewer has any particular problems they're hoping the new hire can address. You might even try to problem shoot with the hiring manager during the interview to show him or her the good ideas you can bring to the table."
4. Break a sweat. Instead of waiting anxiously the morning of your job interview to roll around, hit the gym. "Hop on a treadmill and listen to your favorite tunes or take your favorite spin or yoga class," says Jill Jacinto, the associate director for the career website WORKS. "Exercise gives you a boost of endorphins that'll help you feel positive and calm during your interview."
5. Get your hair done. Treat yourself to a blowout the night before your job interview, adds Jacinto. "Having your hair done professionally will give you that extra boost of confidence that'll really wow your interviewer. Plus, you can put your hair stylist's talkative manner to good use by chatting about your potential new job. "Prepping for interview questions in this kind of relaxed manner is often more beneficial than asking a friend for help."
6. Come up with a Tweet about you that your interviewer should walk away with. "Joe is an amazing web designer with a passion for financial visualizations." "Samantha is an experienced writer who is driven to uncover politically controversial stories." Coming up with a succinct statement that sums up your talents and why the hiring manager should be excited about you helps you stay focused in an interview, says Todd Medema, an interview and public speaking coach at Carnegie Mellon University.
7. Ditch the "Likes" and "Ummms" from your vocab. They make you sound unprofessional. Get rid of them in less than a week with this simple exercise: Tell your friends and co-workers to stop (or pinch or punch) you every time you "like" or "umm" in a conversation. "It makes you notice how often you're saying these unconscious space-fillers, which helps you consciously avoid them going forward," says Medema.
8. Prepare for the first question posed at every interview: "Tell me about yourself." When figuring out where to start when you get this vague question, don't begin your story in the delivery room, says Mary Nestor-Harper, a business consultant in Savannah, Georgia. "Skip the personal stories and dig right into your professional history—that's what an employer wants to know," she says. Start with your last graduation (high school, college) and go from there to your jobs, related training and professional experience. "Once you get the job, you'll have plenty of time to fill your boss and co-workers in on the rest of your life."
9. Curb your enthusiasm. The night before your interview, print out a new copy of your resume on high quality paper and just bring that with you to the interview. Skip the letters of reference and portfolios until later in the process. "Too much additional information can hurt your chances of getting the job," says Nestor-Harper. "If an employer wants references, writing samples or a design portfolio, they'll ask for it during a second job interview. Pushing too much information too early in the interview process can spell desperation."
10. Get comfortable bragging about yourself. Talking about your strengths can be especially challenging, which is why practicing talking yourself up is so crucial. "I frequently ask candidates to list 25 work traits or personality characteristics that describe themselves, and many candidates get uncomfortable with this question and can't objectively describe their strong points," says Arlene Vernon, a human resources consultant and management trainer. "The candidates who can take this on and start counting as they go show me their confidence as well as their self-awareness. You don't have to be cocky; just truthful about your strengths." So, before your interview, write down a thorough list of your strengths so you're able to talk about them if pressed.
11. Think positive. There's no use getting down on yourself before you even meet with the hiring manager. Instead, think only positive thoughts about how your interview will go. "On your way to the interview, repeat positive thoughts to yourself that reinforce the notion that you will get the job,'" says Hadous. You might even visualize yourself walking through the office doors every day, or settling in at your new desk. "Positive thinking is a powerful way to be more open to the world around you and to opportunities that come your way."