Whether you’re launching your career or looking to switch it up, interviews are an important piece of finding the perfect position. While your potential future employers are using interviews to size you up, these are also great opportunities to discover whether a company’s culture, workload and philosophy are the best fit for you.

Here are a few dos and don’ts that will help you nail your interview and land that dream job.

Do: Study Up

Prepare, prepare, prepare. Study their website, mission statement, portfolio and social media until you know them like the back of your hand. The more you can weave their history and approach into stories about your own experience and expertise, the more you’ll look like a perfect fit. Plus, doing your homework will make those out-of-left-field questions feel like easy-to-hit underhand tosses.

Do: Sell Your Strengths

Before the interview, list the most important qualities of a good candidate for the position. Take words directly from the job description and use your knowledge of the industry and company. Write them all in one column. In the next column, write down examples of how you have lived out those qualities. If they say that organization is key to success in the role, think of one or two examples of when you’ve displayed exceptional organizational skills. Get familiar with this list and practice weaving these examples into the interview.

Do: Prepare Your Own Questions

It’s important to prepare smart, open-ended questions for the interviewer. Interviews are a two-way street, and asking questions will show the company you’ve done your homework and are very interested in the position. Good questions about culture, success and advancement will separate you from the pack and give you a leg-up in the next stage.

woman at desk thinking

Don’t: Speak Poorly About Current or Former Employers

One of the biggest red flags to interviewers is a candidate who bashes current or former employers. While you may think it’s a compliment to their culture, it really just undermines your appearance of professionalism. If you have serious grievances that relate to a question or interview topic, prepare ahead of time how you can share that experience without shining a bad light on the employer.

Don’t: Sell Yourself Short

A job interview isn’t a time to be modest. Highlight the projects and passions you’re most proud of. Share stories of great successes that were only possible because of your planning and preparation or intimate expertise of a topic. While you don’t want to seem like the egoistic hero of every story, you do want to paint a picture of how you can be their company’s future Wonder Woman.

woman on laptop

Don’t: Give the Interviewer a Free Pass

If you feel uncomfortable in the interview or realize your values don’t align with the company, politely thank the interviewer for the opportunity and scratch that option off your list. Regardless of your employment status, it’s never worth working for a place you know in your heart is a bad fit. The perfect job will come along. You just have to be patient and persistent.

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