To be taken seriously for a position you’re applying for, you need to carefully prepare for it. The slightest error can disqualify you as a candidate, regardless if you have the skills and experience required for the job.

If you want to remain a strong candidate, keep the following in mind prior to the interview:

  1. Research the organization.

Refrain from asking what the business does and how it’s organized. By doing so, you’ll come across as someone who’s there just for the paycheck.

  1. Print several copies of your resume.

Just because you submitted a resume to them before the interview doesn’t mean they won’t ask for one during it. You will come across as someone who is serious about the position if you have extra resumes on hand.

  1. Dress for the job.

A job interview doesn’t warrant “Casual Friday” attire. Consider calling the organization’s HR department and ask what the dress code is, or simply arrive for the interview wearing your best suit.

  1. Rehearse interview questions.

It can be fun to be spontaneous. However, if you stammer or hesitate when asked a regular question during the interview, you’ll come across as unpolished and unprepared. You can find many of the questions often asked during a job interview if you do a basic search on Google. Don’t trust your instincts – research the list and produce brief answers that involve your own experiences.

  1. Leave early.

If Google Maps says you can get to the job interview in about 10 minutes, that’s what you should base your schedule on, right? Not so fast. You need to take into consideration the time to find a parking spot and traffic jams. If you’re late, it means you’re unorganized and don’t respect other people’s time. By arriving early, you have time to prepare for the interview before the receptionist calls you in. You can even use the extra time to use the restroom, check your hair and make-up, and anything else to help leave a strong first impression.

  1. Be kind to the receptionist.

Some companies ask the receptionist about their opinion of a candidate. How you engage with all employees defines your character. Receptionists act as gatekeepers of an organization. They work just as hard as the rest of the company. How you treat them is indicative of your humbleness. Smile, be kind, and make small talk about with the receptionist (as long as they’re not in the middle of something). Don’t forget to thank the receptionist when you leave.

  1. Shut your phone off.

Believe it or not, some people actually spend time thumbing through their phones instead of preparing for the interview in the waiting room. Some even get calls while the interview is taking place! The worst thing you can do is keep your phone on when being interviewed.

  1. Use an example to respond to questions.

If questioned about your experience and how it relates to the position you’re after, shouldn’t your resume do all the talking? Of course not. Each question is developed to get you to elaborate on your written statements. If you can talk about a professional or personal scenario that articulates how you manage stressful situations, do so. If you don’t have an example to share, talk about how you would theoretically handle an issue, or stress that you would be happy to learn how the company tackles such problems. Whatever you do, don’t reply with a one-word answer.

  1. Look your interviewer in the eye and shake their hand.

Etiquette is too formal for a job interview, right? Wrong. Your job interview isn’t about assessing what you can bring to the table, it’s also about how you present yourself. Communicating nonverbally, either through a handshake or a smile, is responsible for 55% of every interaction. Each thing you do during the interview is being critiqued. Sit up straight, keep your hands and arms relaxed, and refrain from fidgeting. Look your interviewer in the eye when you’re talking to them. By doing so, you’ll come across as confident.

  1. Ask questions.

Questions are just for the interviewer, right? Nope. In fact, the interviewer expects you to ask questions. Just don’t ask any about vacation time, sick days, and how quick you can get a raise. Inquire about where the business sees itself in 5 years and how you can help bring them there. Ask what the least likable thing about the position entails. Have at least 3 quality questions in your arsenal to ask the interviewer. It will show that you were paying attention by acknowledging what wasn’t covered during the interview, and shows that you did your homework.

  1. Keep your demeanor professional.

To show the interviewer that you have a life outside of work, why not complain about your ex-boyfriend or all the things you hated about your last job? Well, by doing so, you’ll make the people surrounding you uncomfortable. It will come across as unprofessional and ruin any chance you had of being a viable candidate.

  1. Ask for the position.

Wouldn’t asking for something being dangled in front of you seem inappropriate? Not necessarily. Asking for what you want shows that you’re confident enough to approach the interviewer and conveys how much you want the job. Most candidates leave the interview without asking for what they want. All you need to do is say, “I’m eager to get started working for you,” or “I’m excited to be a candidate.” If you say it with sincerity, you’ll come across as someone who genuinely wants what is being offered, which is the perfect way to conclude the interview.