How to Prepare for an Interview 

Interviewing is a vulnerable experience. Interviewers will judge your employability after a short conversation, placing pressure on you to portray yourself as articulate, knowledgeable, and personable. But you can ease some of that pressure by putting in some time to prepare. Below are four preparation tips with specific examples of ways to get ready for an interview.

1. Research the company.

An easy first step to preparing for an interview is to perform company research. Part of this step means exploring the company website, browsing their social media channels, and looking for any recent news or press releases on Google. You should also keep an eye out for things that describe the company’s values. Not only will this help tailor responses to interview questions so they align with what the company is looking for, but it provides insight into the stated character of the company. If you and the company have a difference in values, it may not be an ideal fit. It’s also important to research and understand the product, service, or mission the company operates around. This will help you articulate educated and pointed questions during the interview, in addition to helping respond to questions with the proper context.

Looking up reviews from current or former employees could also provide some personal and often honest opinions that are helpful when evaluating the job.

2. Prepare your background story.

Most interviews start with you being asked to talk a little bit about yourself. This answer should be kept short and no more than a minute long. It’s an opportunity to set the tone and provide personal touches that may not have been present in your job application. A common mistake in this part of the interview is simply reciting your resume. Time is wasted going over information that is already known by the interviewer. You should touch on the “why” behind jobs you’ve taken as well as what prompted you to look for a new one. It’s also helpful to include personal information such as interests outside of work or a reference to where you grew up. This helps introduce you as a person outside of the confines of a resume or cover letter.

3. Create responses to interview questions.

A starting point for preparing responses to a variety of questions is to recall and list notable situations that have occurred, preferably in a workplace setting. Interviewers often ask for examples that were challenging, required teamwork, disagreement, or were under a tight deadline. By familiarizing with a couple of significant examples, they can often be applied to a variety of interview questions. For example, a story about how a teammate quit right before a deadline could be shaped to highlight skills related to teamwork, overcoming a challenge, or operating under time pressure.

A common mistake in this portion of the interview is to speak in vague or theoretical generalities. Interviewers want specifics, and without them, it portrays either a lack of attention to detail or preparation. You should thoroughly read over the job description and try to put yourself in the shoes of the interviewer. If roles reversed and you were asking the questions, what would you want to know?

4. Compile a list of questions.

Interviews typically end with an opportunity for you to ask questions. This is a critical part of the process, as it provides the chance to properly vet whether the job is a good fit, and it shows preparation and engagement. Ending an interview with no questions to ask gives the impression of a lack of interest.

You can use the job description as a starting point. If details about the responsibilities are unclear, this part of the interview is the time to ask. This is also the time to use background research. Asking questions related to recent developments or news shows curiosity. Questions about the products or services of the company show a serious consideration of the job. Additionally, since the interviewer works at the company, they should be used as a resource. Ask about what they like and don’t like about the company, the culture, or the challenges they faced when they were a new employee.

Taking a focused approach in preparing for an interview not only increases the likelihood of having a quality interview but will also decrease the anticipatory stress. By following the aforementioned steps, you can set yourself up for success on the big day.

How to Ask For a Raise

Are you feeling undervalued and underpaid at work? Are you ready to make a case for a salary increase but unsure of how to go about it? Asking for a raise can be a nerve-wracking prospect, but by following a few key steps, you can increase your chances of getting the salary you deserve. In this article, we’ll provide insight on when to ask for a raise, the best way to plan for it, and how to present your case.

Is the timing right?

Knowing when to ask for a raise is an important factor in the success of your request. Generally speaking, these scenarios are ideal:

  • You’ve made significant contributions to the company.
  • You’ve taken on new responsibilities.
  • You’ve received a glowing performance review.
  • You’ve been with the company for a certain amount of time. (At least 6 months; it takes time for a company to get to know you and understand your value.)
  • You’ve received a better offer from another company.

If one of these applies to you and you’re ready to move forward, make sure you step back and take a pulse on things first. Is your boss especially stressed right now? Is the company in the middle of a new business deal? Is it the holiday season? There will be times when delaying your request is in your best interest.

How to prepare.

In order to make a compelling pitch for a raise you’ll need to arm yourself with information that demonstrates the value you have added to the company. This could include performance reviews, letters of recommendation, customer compliments, before-and-after metrics such as sales figures, and other quantifiable statistics on the success of your work. Gather evidence of your achievements and successes, and be prepared to show how they benefited the company.

Employers typically have their own ideas about how much their employees should earn, so you’ll also want to conduct research on salary trends in your industry. Utilize published salary data and reports from resources such as,, and LinkedIn. When comparing industry data, make sure you consider factors that may influence the numbers — such as location, education level, and experience. (For example, salaries for a similar job may be higher in a city with a higher cost of living than yours.) Taking the time to research salary trends will give you a better understanding of the current market rate so you can make a more convincing argument when asking for a raise.

Now that you have all the data and information, it’s time to practice. Develop a practice guide using these tips:

  • Create an outline of your pitch and memorize it.
  • Go through the motions of what you’re going to say and present.
  • Take notes along the way so that you can edit and improve on the fly.
  • Record your practice run to ensure that you aren’t coming off too aggressive or entitled.
  • Make sure you have a clear idea of what you’re willing to accept.
  • Be ready to negotiate; practice negotiating skills with friends or family.

Make your case.

You’ve done all the prep work and now it’s time to make your case. A few quick pointers for your delivery:

  • Make sure your tone is respectful and positive from the start.
  • When presenting your accomplishments it’s critical that you explain how they have benefited the company.
  • State why you feel like you are underpaid, and what you feel a reasonable salary increase would be.
  • Try to anticipate any questions or objections your boss might have.
  • End on a positive note: thank them for their time, and tell them you’re looking forward to their response.

Making your case in this manner will demonstrate your professionalism, show that you’re confident in what you’re saying, and give you the best chance of success.

If they say no.

If, after you’ve made your case, your employer still says no, the best thing you can do is stay positive and remain professional. Even if you don’t get the raise you were asking for, it doesn’t have to be seen as a failure. It’s important to understand that it takes time and effort to gain the trust of your employer and that a successful negotiation requires both parties to come away feeling satisfied.

As such, it’s important to graciously thank your employer for their time and for listening to your proposal. This shows that you understand their perspective and that you’re willing to continue the conversation in the future. It’s a good idea to ask if there is any specific feedback you can use to improve your case next time. If they’re willing to discuss, take notes and ask specific questions to ensure you have a clear understanding of their feedback. In the end, it’s all part of the process. Your employer wants to ensure that the salary increase you are asking for is fair and equitable, and that it’s in the best interests of the company.

Top Executives Wish They Had Known This When They Were Younger

Everyone experiences the ups and downs of life as they grow older. Perhaps you’ve been through some hard times recently, or maybe it’s been a while since you’ve felt any major lows. As we age, many things in our lives slow down or shift to a new stage that requires us to make adjustments.

You may have found yourself wondering what you could have done differently as an adult if you had the chance to redo your twenty’s all over again. Here are a few lesser-known secrets from top CEOs; things that they wish they had known when they were younger:

How to work with people better.

It’s no secret that people are important to the success of any business. And as we age, we usually find out that some people can be a lot harder to work with than others. Many execs believe that learning how to better work with people would have made things easier in the early days of their careers.

Having confidence to fail.

If you’ve ever lost, failed, or even been in a situation where you felt like you didn’t know what to do, it may have been difficult for you. The thing is, many top executives wish they had more confidence in failure as a younger adult. They wish they had embraced their failures as opportunities to learn and grow, rather than internalizing them.

How to build teams and manage employees.

Building a team and managing employees is an important part of being a leader, and many execs wish they had known how to do this sooner. For example, when working with people who are in their twenties, some CEOs may find themselves getting frustrated because they don’t understand the way these younger employees process information or communicate with one another. To avoid this frustration, it would have been helpful to understand the basics of team building and staff management earlier in their careers.

How to deal with rejection.

When you’re young, it’s easy to think that you can change the world. But that means there will be a lot of people who don’t want to work with you. Even if you get lucky and land your dream job, there are going to be plenty of people who don’t want to make room for you on their team. Many top execs wish they had learned how to cope with rejection sooner.

How to negotiate.

Some executives wished they had known more about negotiation tactics when they were younger. Negotiation is an important skill that top executives need in order to maintain a healthy relationship with their co-workers and bosses.

The importance of personal development.

Many adults in the workforce struggle with this. It’s especially true for executives who may feel a lot of pressure to be successful at work and provide for their family. For example, you’re expected to deliver results or people will wonder if you’re capable of that. People can become too focused on their current state, which often leads to them neglecting personal development efforts. When you neglect personal development, you run the risk of becoming an ineffective leader as time goes by. If this sounds familiar, it might be worth considering taking some time off work and focusing on yourself before your next job interview or promotion attempt. It’s never too late for personal development!

African American man in business clothing standing against brick wall adjusting watch

The Job Description

A well-written job description is vitally important to making sure your employees understand a job’s responsibilities and requirements. It is also a key resource to help you review employee performance, hire employees, develop recruitment advertising and make sure your compensation is competitive so you can attract the best talent.

When developing your job description, be sure to comply with disability nondiscrimination laws such as the Americans with Disabilities Act. Compliance guidance is available from the Office of Disability Employment Policy and the Job Accommodation Network (JAN).  For more information on recruiting and hiring people with disabilities, please see the U.S. Department of Labor’s page on Hiring People with Disabilities.

The following are a number of the major components of a good job description:

Job Summary Overview

  • A summary statement is a brief outline of a job’s purpose and goals and should be about three or four sentences. The job description details, such as tasks and experience, will be covered in the remaining parts of the job description.

General Information

  • Job title and classification—the job title should be concise (e.g., Senior C# Developer). Be sure to indicate whether the job is exempt or nonexempt under the Fair Labor Standards Act.
  • Worksite location
  • Management/reporting responsibilities –- identify this position in terms of direct reports and position in the company organization chart


  • Identify no more than 10 tasks (for example, managing accounts payable, managing payroll administration). Be as concise as possible–try to keep the task descriptions to one line each. Be sure to also include a basic statement that communicates other responsibilities that may be required within the scope of this position.
  • Your tasks should be organized in a logical manner. Begin each task description with an action verb such as develop, organize or coordinate.
  • When describing each task, include the purpose of the task when possible. For example: “Update marketing database to assure all client information is current”.


  • Identify the skills, expertise, and knowledge base necessary to perform each task listed in the job description.
  • Describe any special skills that require additional training, certification, etc.


  • Identify relevant past experience required.
  • Include any special professional certifications that may be required.
  • Include any special education requirements.

Work Conditions

  • Work hours
  • Travel requirements
  • Unusual environmental conditions


  • Pay range and benefits information
  • Bonuses and any other incentives

Company Description

  • When using the job description for recruiting purposes, it’s important to include a description of the company as well. Remember, you are selling the candidates on working for your company–so it is important to make a great first impression.


  • A disclaimer can be typically placed at the end of the job description to provide flexibility in adding or changing job responsibilities. The following is an example of a disclaimer: “This job description may be changed to include new responsibilities and tasks or change existing ones as management deems necessary.”

Review Job Descriptions Regularly

It’s a good idea to review job descriptions on a regular basis as tasks and requirements may change. In addition, you want to make sure you have realistic expectations about the jobs being performed.