9 Quick Ways to Prepare for a Last-Minute Job Interview

Job candidates in suits sit in waiting room and look over resumes before interview

Sometimes you don’t have days or weeks to prepare for a job interview. Sometimes, you may only have a few hours… If you’re called in for a last-minute job interview, don’t assume that there’s nothing meaningful you can do to prepare in the hours and minutes leading up to the meeting. Even if you’re left scrambling, there are a few important preparations you should make that could mean the difference between a successful interview and a job offer or more time on the job market.

Even if you only have a few hours to prepare, you should be able to squeeze in the following:

Read the company’s website

Interview prep 101, going over the most important pages on the organization, company, or department’s website is the fastest way to get a basic sense of the employer brand and what they’re all about. It may also give you some ideas for questions you’d like to ask in the interview.

Look at their social media accounts

If the organization is active on social media, have a quick look at their last month or two of posts to get a sense of the kinds of news or messaging they’re pushing out. This will give you an idea of any recent events or happenings and also what they consider a priority.

See if they’ve been in the news

Certainly, to present yourself as a knowledgeable, informed candidate, you don’t want to come across as unaware of any big news, either with the company or in your industry. You need to be able to speak to the most recent headlines in your field, as well as any important happenings in the organization.

Look up your interviewers

Run a quick search on your interviewers. What are their positions and backgrounds? Do you share any connections in your network that you can bring up in the interview? Do you have anything in common, like shared alum status or where you’re from? Try to get a sense of where they’re coming from but also look for little nuggets of personal information that you can use in the job interview as a good conversation starter.

Reach out to your network

Send a few messages to your own professional network to see if anyone is familiar with the employer or your interviewer. Do you know anyone who has interviewed with them in the past and can share some insights with you or last-minute pointers about what you can expect?

Job description keywords

Right before your interview, take 5-10 minutes to read over the original job description again. See how the keywords and job duties align with what you have on your own resume. In virtually every job interview, whether you have three weeks or three hours to prepare, you’ll need to explain why you’re such a good fit for this position and how your background qualifies you for the role. So you need to know the most fundamental expectations for the position and give some thought about how you’re going to be able to demonstrate your skill or experience in those areas.

Jot down a few questions of your own.

Don’t forget about asking good questions, not just answering them. If you don’t have time to research the organization and come up with a list of detailed questions, have a few stock questions memorized that you can ask any interviewer, for any position, at a moment's notice. You can even write these down in a notebook that you take in with you to the job interview. Here are a few good examples of questions that are impressive in almost any type of interview, in any setting:

  • What are your expectations or most important goals for this position in the first 30 or 60 days?
  • What do you like most about working here?
  • How do you define success for this role?
  • What are the biggest challenges someone in this position might face?
  • How would you describe the company culture?
  • What are the next steps in the hiring process?

Read over your resume & cover letter one last time

See if there are any last-minute changes or updates you need to make. Have you taken on any new projects or had any meaningful new experiences since you applied to the job that would be worthwhile to bring up during the interview? Also, this will refresh your memory about how you presented yourself on paper so that you can fill in any gaps in the interview.

Get a good night’s sleep

Sleep deprivation is a hardcore performance killer. It has been linked to things like memory loss, poor focus, weakened critical thinking skills, lower levels of creativity, and poor attitude or mood -- even just one of these issues could negatively affect your chances of having a successful job interview. You may feel like forgoing a long night’s sleep to stay up researching the company or preparing good answers, but at some point, you’re doing yourself a disservice by skimping on your sleep.

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