Preparing for an interview will greatly improve your ability to make the best impression. Here are 7 things that you can do to improve your level of preparation.

1. Research the company
Research the company you are interviewing with to learn about their business. You can do this by going to their website and study their products and services to fully understand what they do. Then scan the company’s press releases to identify any significant news events.

If you are wanting to go the extra mile, go through their financial statements to identify any trends or events. You can also go outside the company website to perform general internet searches or look up the company business analysis sites like Yahoo Finance or Google Finance to find valuable data.

While you are going through this information and preparing for an interview, you can try to look for some questions you can ask during the interview.

2. Research the industry
Research the industry that the company you are interviewing with operates. You can do this by going on the internet and identify any industry trends, relevant news, and map out the key competitors.

What you want to do is to find any trends, threats, or opportunities that could be impacting the company you are interviewing with. The goal here is to be able to field questions during the interview and to also be able to compose one or two industry-related questions that you can ask to make you look knowledgeable.

3. Research the people you are interviewing with
A great step to take when preparing for an interview is research the people you are meeting with. The first place to go is to social media, specifically LinkedIn. After that, you can also perform a general Google search on the contact.

You goal here is to gather details on their professional background so that you know the other person better and know where they are coming from. You may also come across commonalities that you have with them that could be potential side conversation subjects that could help you to build some rapport.

4. Formalize questions to ask
It is extremely important for you to ask questions during the interview. One of the worst scenarios is an interviewer asks, “Do you have any questions for me?” and the interviewee says, “No, not really.”

To prevent this, when preparing for an interview, formalize questions that you can ask during the interview. Typing this out on a piece of paper can help you to remember them, but there is also nothing wrong with bringing your questions and reading directly from them.

5. Brainstorm questions that could be asked
After you think about your questions, stop to think about what interview questions they might ask. Once you have a list, go through and compose the answers that you feel are best so that you are prepared if they come up. It wouldn’t hurt to practice your answers and run them by someone else to identify any possible tweaking that might be helpful.

6. Build a business plan
If you want to really make a good impression, build a plan that will outline what you will do if you are given the job. One way to build this is to have a list of what you would do in the first 30, 60, and 90 days.

This does not need to be an extensive document, just something that summarizes your thoughts and how you would approach the job. This can be a few slides in MS PowerPoint or a few pages in MS Word.

7. Print out materials
The last step in preparing for an interview is to stop and print out all of the different things that you should take with you to the interview. Here are some of the things you should bring:

  • Print out the questions that you have prepared to ask and don’t be afraid to pull them out and read directly from the sheet.
  • Always bring copies of your resume as sometimes an interviewer will sometimes come to the meeting without a copy.
  • Print out and bring any samples of previous work that you can show if appropriate.
  • Print out and bring any research findings such as articles, financial documents, etc. Pull these out and look at them when you ask questions about that pertain to them.

All of this could be the difference between you and the competition when they make their hiring decision. Preparing for an interview in these simple ways can definitely improve your ability to impress an interviewer.