How to prepare for an interview in under 24 hours

Step one: Take a deep breath. These four must-dos can help boost your confidence.

How to prepare for an interview in under 24 hours

These last-minute job interview tips can save the day.

The moment has arrived, except much sooner than you anticipated. An awesome company wants to meet with you! And, as luck would have it, they have an opening in their schedule—tomorrow! Wondering how to prepare for an interview when you’ve been given next to no heads up? Deep breaths: It’s not terribly complicated. Even if you have fewer than 24 hours, a little job interview preparation can help you stand out from the other candidates.

The following tasks will take you about four hours (plus five minutes) to complete, making this the best approach when it comes to preparing for an interview.

How to prepare for an interview (quickly)

1. Conduct basic interview research

Step one is pretty obvious: Find out as much as you can beforehand. Call the person who scheduled your interview and ask:

  • Who will you be talking to? Are you going to meet the manager you’d work for, or will you just talk to HR? What are the interviewer’s expectations?
  • What’s the dress code? Dress better than suggested. You can’t go wrong with a professional suit. Even in this day and age, a professional demeanor goes a long way.
  • Get directions to the office—meaning, you can find the best route to take on Google maps, but make sure you know what floor the office is it on, which elevator bank to take, etc. Plan to leave early. Keep a phone number to call if you get stuck on the bus or in traffic. If you arrive late and stressed, the interview will not go well.
  • If you don't have a detailed job description, ask for one.

That’s a five-minute phone call.

2. Learn about the company online

Everything you'll read about how to prepare for an interview includes doing some company research. Need help fast? Start with Monster’s company page, which will give you something to talk about in addition to the job description. Go to the employer’s website (the About Us page should be full of useful info), use kununu for current employee reviews, or Google information such as:

  • How big is the company in terms of annual sales or employees?
  • What does the company say about its products or services?
  • What recent news (such as a new product, a press release, an interview with the CEO) can you discuss?

Basic research like this should take you about an hour.

3. Think of some stories

Think of some solid stories you can tell about yourself. Write down and memorize three stories where you can highlight some of your most important achievements. Choose examples that make you feel proud of the work you’ve done.

These stories demonstrate your soft skills like judgment, initiative, teamwork, or leadership. Wherever possible, quantify what you’ve done, e.g., “increased sales by 20%,” “cut customer call waiting time in half,” “streamlined delivery so that most customers had their job done in two days.”

Remember: Non-work stories count toward your achievements; if you volunteer for the local food pantry, write down a time you overcame a big challenge or a crisis there. These kinds of stories make you memorable, which is what you want. 

Take the time you need—at least three hours on this task.

4. Pick your outfit, and go to bed early

Save yourself some time in the morning by hanging up your interview outfit the night before. A good night’s rest will help to calm any jitters and allow you to get an early start. Don’t trash all your interview preparation by arriving flustered and panicked because you couldn’t find a parking space or the train was delayed.

Cover your bases

Learning how to prepare for an interview will take some of the stress off your shoulders. Another good way to get ready for the big day is to anticipate what kinds of questions you’ll be asked and work out your responses in advance. Could you use help with that? Join Monster for free today. As a member, you’ll get interview insights, career advice, and job search tips sent straight to your inbox. You’ll learn the best ways to tackle tricky questions, how to conduct proper interview follow-up, how to negotiate your job offer, and much more. Even if you’re used to waiting until the last minute in every other area of your life, the job search is one thing that you really should get a jump on. Your career will thank you!