You know the job interview drill.
You spend the week before researching the company and practising answers to common questions.
You spend the night before getting your outfit ready, planning your journey and getting in a good long sleep.
You wake up on the day feeling ready to knock ‘em dead.
But what happens when you don’t have that long to prepare? What if you get a call from a hiring manager asking you to come in for an interview the same day?
Never fear – our step-by-step guide will show you how to prepare for a last-minute interview.
How to prepare for a last-minute interview
So, you have mere hours until your interview. What do you do?
Obviously you don’t have time to research the job and company in-depth, so that means you need to prioritise.
Here’s what you should do to get clued-up and confident in the limited time you have…
Make sure you know where you’re going
The very first thing you should do after accepting the interview is find out exactly where it is, how to get there and how long it will take you.
As always, leave yourself more travel time than you think you need in case of unexpected delays.
Once you know this, you’ll know exactly how long you’ve got to prepare.
Read up on the job
If you’re interviewing for a posted position, read through the job description carefully. Make sure you know what the purpose of the job is and what your main duties will be.
If you’re able to print it out, scour it for keywords (things like ‘experienced project manager’ or ‘social media expert’) and circle them.
If you’re looking at it on your phone, take screenshots so you can glance over it on the go if you have time later.
Research the company
Dedicate as much time as you can to reading up on the company.
In an ideal world, you’ve been applying to companies you already have some knowledge of. But if that’s not the case, take the time to familiarise yourself with what the company does.
It’s OK to probe for more information on the company’s products or services during the interview (after all, they know they called you in last minute), but a basic understanding is a must.
Make sure you know what the company’s aims and values are. You can usually find this information in the ‘About Us’ section of the company’s website.
If they have a blog or ‘Latest News’ section, have a look at a few recent articles to see if there have been any important developments for the company lately.
Visit any social media pages the company has, and do a Google News search for the company’s name.
Recent news items can make good conversation starters, particularly if you don’t know as much about the company as you’d like to.
Work out why you’re perfect for the role
Think over your work history and experience in your current or most recent job, and try to connect the dots with the role you’re interviewing for.
Come up with a couple of specific examples that overlap with the requirements of the role and demonstrate how you’re a great fit.
Try to think of any challenges you overcame or achievements you’re particularly proud of – whatever will most strongly communicate your value.
Know who you’re talking to
It’s easy to get names and job titles mixed up, especially if you haven’t had much time to prepare.
Spend a few minutes on the company’s LinkedIn page familiarising yourself with the names of key staff members.
If the ‘About Us’ section of the company’s website lists team members, try to memorise any key names, titles and facts.
This will also often help give you an idea of the company’s culture. Which leads us onto our next step…
Suss out the culture and dress accordingly
The tone of the company’s website and social media presence will often give you an idea of its culture.
The most obvious way to show a potential employer you don’t understand the company is to turn up in an outfit that totally clashes with its ethos.
A formal suit would be appropriate for an interview at an accountancy firm, but may not go down so well at a young, hipster-led startup.
If you don’t have time to go home and change, do the best with what you’ve got. Make sure you’re clean and presentable, with neat hair and fresh breath.
If your outfit is really inappropriate, you can acknowledge and apologise for it in the interview. The hiring manager will know you didn’t have much time, so they shouldn’t hold it against you.
Take a deep breath
Before you walk into that interview room, take a deep breath, hold your head high and put a smile on your face.
Even if you don’t feel all that confident, acting like you are is half the battle. You’ve got this – good luck!