How to Prepare for a Last-Minute Job Interview

Have a last-minute job interview? Here are 10 helpful interview tips.

portrait of Susan M.K. Howard
by Susan M.K. Howard

Published on May 18, 2022

Edited by Giselle M. Cancio
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How to Prepare for a Last-Minute Job Interview
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Last-minute job interviews happen. Job seekers can find themselves with a day's notice or less for interview prep. This can cause some anxiety, but it doesn't have to.

While the short notice of a job interview may surprise you, the interview itself shouldn't. You've been applying to new positions, after all!

With a combination of forethought and quick thinking, you can ace any job interview. The key to success? Being an informed candidate.

In a Glassdoor survey of 750 hiring decision-makers, nine out of 10 respondents agreed that an informed candidate is a quality candidate.

The survey respondents explained that informed candidates prepared for interviews. Being knowledgeable about the role and organization was also critical.

Continue reading for 10 helpful tips on how to prepare for a job interview — even if it's last minute.

1. Gather Your Resume, Notebook, and Pens

Not sure what to bring to a job interview? You should always bring several printed copies of your resume, a notebook, and two pens at a bare minimum.

Bring the same resume you submitted when applying for the job. You should label your resume file with the company name and date of submission. Then, if you need to print your resume last minute, you can quickly do so.

Even better: Immediately print copies of your resume after applying for a position. This way, you have them handy at a moment's notice.

2. Prepare a Portfolio

It's also important to bring examples of your work to a job interview whenever applicable. For instance, a graphic designer may bring in a portfolio of print projects they're proud of. A videographer may present video clips that highlight their best work.

Whether you bring print or digital examples will depend on your industry. It will also depend on the employer you're interviewing with. Not sure what they expect? If they seem open to questions before the interview, ask.

If you're not comfortable asking, err on the side of bringing print copies. Another option is to be prepared to present your digital work quickly. Have examples ready to go on your laptop or tablet. Have a personal hotspot on your phone, so internet connection isn't a potential issue.

An excellent portfolio takes time to pull together, so it should be a work in progress. Continually add to it. When you start applying to jobs, spruce it up before getting that first interview request.

3. Select Your Interview Outfit

There's no need to stress about what you're going to wear to a last-minute job interview. Select your interview outfit as soon as possible and then keep it nearby.

Do you work from home? Have your entire outfit hanging in your closet, ready to go. Regularly drive to work? Keep your job interview outfit in the car. Use public transportation? Dress as close to interview-ready whenever possible.

In our increasingly casual culture, this may feel a tad overboard. Yet, 71% of employers wouldn't hire someone who doesn't follow the appropriate dress code. So, it's wise to take your outfit seriously.

Didn't plan ahead? Look in your closet, pick out the best outfit available, and wear it with confidence. Second-guessing or stressing won't help matters. You've got this!

4. Re-Examine the Job Post

The quickest thing you can do to prepare for a job interview is to re-examine the job post. Remind yourself what this particular position and company are all about. This is especially helpful if you've been applying for multiple positions.

Review the job description, the skills required, and the skills preferred. By doing so, you'll be more confident and prepared to present yourself as an informed candidate.

It's important to note that job posts often come down after the submission deadline. Make it a habit to save the posting as a PDF whenever you apply to a position.

5. Re-Read Your Cover Letter

Next, re-read the cover letter you submitted when applying for the job. This will jog your memory about the role you will be interviewing for.

Re-reading your cover letter will also provide you with some talking points. Since the employer has requested an interview after reading your cover letter, it's safe to assume it caught their interest. They'll want to learn more about what they read.

6. Review the Company

You likely did some research on the company while applying for the position. If you bookmarked your research, you'd be able to quickly pull up your findings for review.

Even if you didn't do previous research or use bookmarks, plenty of information about any organization is at your fingertips. Review the company's website and social media accounts. Search if they've been in the news recently. Take a look at their LinkedIn page to see if you have any connections that work there.

7. Go Over Common Interview Questions

Certain common interview questions cross industries and hiring practices. Review as many as time allows.

One of the most asked questions in a job interview is "What is your greatest strength?" Hiring managers and recruiters use this question to see if your strengths match the role you're interviewing for. Be sure you can articulate how your greatest strength ties into the job responsibilities.

Another common question: "What are your salary expectations?" This can be a particularly uncomfortable question for many people. Calm your nerves by using a salary calculator before the job interview. You'll be less uncomfortable armed with a solid, educated answer.

8. Consider Questions You'll Ask

Interviewers often ask candidates if they have any questions during a job interview. Considering what you'll ask beforehand helps prevent freezing in the moment.

Additionally, the right questions to ask during a job interview help determine whether the job is a good match for you. Remember, a job interview is a two-way opportunity for employers and candidates to learn about one another.

The hiring team is trying to determine if you'd be a good fit for the role they need to fill. But you are also trying to determine if the role is a good fit for you.

9. Arrive 15 Minutes Early

Make sure you arrive at your interview 15 minutes early. Showing up late — or with no time to spare — doesn't make a good first impression. It will also leave you feeling frazzled and frustrated before the job interview even begins.

As soon as you find out about the interview, look up the address, route, and estimated travel time to the interview location. Factor in any anticipated traffic or construction delays you could reasonably expect.

Likewise, consider any further steps you can take to arrive at your job interview on time. Can you park and walk right into the lobby? Or will you be in a large complex that requires further walking and elevator rides?

10. Take a Deep Breath and Bring a Healthy Perspective

Lastly, when you arrive at your job interview, take a deep breath in and out. Do a simple breathing exercise, say a prayer, or speak a self-affirmation … whatever works to calm your nerves and ground you in the present moment.

Bring a healthy perspective to the forefront of your thoughts. It's exciting you received this opportunity to interview. Maybe you'll get the job, maybe you won't. If you don't, there's another role out there for you.

The results of the conversation you are about to have do not determine your value or level of success. It's just one conversation about one job. You will be less nervous and exude more confidence when you understand this. You will also enjoy your interview experience much more.

Frequently Asked Questions About Job Interviews

true Is one day enough to prepare for an interview?

Yes. From the moment you started tweaking your resume and writing your cover letter, you've been preparing for the interview. Do the best you can with the time that you're given.

If something during the interview doesn't go as you had hoped, make a note of it for next time. Learn where you can plan better and be all the more ready for your next job interview.

true How do you end an interview?

When ending a job interview, you'll want to summarize why you're the right person for the role. Include your interest, skill set, and experience. You'll also want to inquire about the next steps and thank the hiring team for their time.

Not sure you're interested in the role after learning more about it? Unless you're 100% certain you will not accept the position, it doesn't hurt to follow the above steps. Give yourself some time to reflect and see what happens.

If red flags were waving at you the entire job interview, simply thank the interviewers for their time and exit.

true How long should your interview answers be?

This depends on the question, but 30 seconds to two minutes is a reasonable range to keep in mind. Do your best to directly answer the question without rambling down bunny trails.

Pay attention to your audience's body language for cues if you've been talking for too long. If you notice they are fidgeting or not paying attention, it might be a sign to wrap your answer up.

BestColleges.com is an advertising-supported site. Featured or trusted partner programs and all school search, finder, or match results are for schools that compensate us. This compensation does not influence our school rankings, resource guides, or other editorially-independent information published on this site.

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