Résumé? Check. Applied to jobs? Check. Now it’s time to prepare for the interview. Yikes.

When you’re going after a job—even if it’s at the local burger joint—you’ll want to try to be ready for questions you’ll be asked in an interview. For example, your potential employer might ask something ordinary like, “What makes you the strongest candidate?” or something a bit off-the-wall, such as “What type of tree are you?” (Hint: the answer is the tree of knowledge.) No matter what they ask, this is where the employer tries to gauge how well you’ll do the job and how well you’ll fit into their organization. But fear not—the interview is your chance to show your expertise. Nobody knows more about you than you do.

So how can you prepare? Use these tips to increase your chances of acing the interview:

Before the interview

  • Think about your interest in the job, what applicable skills you have, and why you deserve to be hired. These questions are likely to come up.
  • Decide on what you’ll wear. You might be interviewing at a place where employees wear a uniform, but you should still dress up for the interview. A nice shirt and dress pants will give a good first impression.
  • Plan to show up early. Usually 15–20 minutes before the scheduled interview is a good time frame to aim for.

During the interview

  • Put your cell phone on silent and leave it in your bag, pocket, or car.
  • Be yourself and be confident. You wouldn’t be sitting at the interview if they weren’t interested in what you have to offer.
  • Ask questions about the position, company, and what they expect out of an ideal employee.
  • Be enthusiastic about the position and stay positive. A good attitude can go a long way.

After the interview

  • Follow up. Call, email, or write a thank-you card to the supervisor who interviewed you. Thank them for their time and use it as an opportunity to remind them of your skills and why you’re interested in the position. You should do this as soon as possible after the interview has taken place.
Brandy Reeves is a health educator at the College of Public Health at the University of Kentucky. She received her undergraduate degree from Miami University, a master of public health from Ohio State University, and a master of higher education from the University of Kentucky.