Being unprepared is one of the biggest mistakes you can make when it comes to a job interview. Employers are on the lookout for well organized, informed candidates that stand out from the competition. Increase your wow-factor by following these interview tips and tricks to find yourself at the head of the pack:

Don’t get lost

This is one of the interview tips and tricks that is commonly overlooked. Make sure you know not only how to get to your interview location, but how to navigate the parking garage and office building so you don’t waste time and end up late to your interview. Arriving slightly before your scheduled interview is always a good idea – but not too early!

Bring your 411

This includes extra copies of your resume in addition to your references contact list. This will allow your interviewer to see your skills and references firsthand. Having a copy of your references and employment history also helps if you have to fill out an official job application on-site. Bring the information with you and you won’t have to strain your brain thinking of dates or hunting through your phone for contact information. If you work in the type of position that might include portfolio items, make sure you bring them to the interview as well.

Know the 411

Another one of your essential interview tips and tricks involves getting into research mode prior to your interview. Read up on the company’s history and search for recent news so that you look smart, not dumbfounded, when an interviewer brings up recent events or industry news. When possible, research your interviewer on social media sites such as LinkedIn and Twitter.

Be yourself – honestly

Even though we’re talking about interview “tips and tricks”, we don’t mean you should deceive employers in any way. Not everyone feels comfortable during an interview, especially when you’re nervous or really want the job. However it is important to be honest about your past work experiences, especially negative ones, as employers can often tell when you’re being less than truthful. There’s no need to go into deep details and sound ‘bitter’ but admit if things didn’t go quite as you’d hoped and explain the positives that came out of the situation.

Honestly present your personality as well. A little personality can go a long way in showing how well you’ll fit in with the company.

Expect surprises

Of the many interview tips and tricks, this one is important. Be prepared with more than canned responses to common questions. It is becoming increasingly common to be asked situational or behavioral questions so that employers can determine more information about you and how you’d react to a given situation. You should have a mental library of stories that explain career achievements, examples of leadership and problem solving abilities.

Ask questions

One of many overlooked steps in interview preparation, is asking good questions to now only show your intelligence, but your interest in the company. Interviewers love it when a candidate asks questions – intelligent questions – about the company or position.

Follow up

Never underestimate the power of a thank-you. Send an email on the day of your interview, thanking for the opportunity and noting something positive about your experience. This is one of the interview tips and tricks that can really help you stand out. A handwritten note is an even extra step of personal touch. Although, we do warn against going too over the top. A note or card is appropriate, flowers or gifts is bribery!

Armed with these interview tips and tricks, you can confidently put your best foot forward and start your new career off right. Get out there with newly gained knowledge, and you’ll be well on the way to landing the job of your dreams.