I was recently asked to offer some interview tips to a friend prior to her second-round interview. That conversation was a reminder about just how unnerving an interview can be for even the most composed professional, so I thought I’d share some best practices that I’ve observed and implemented during the course of my career.

In business circles we talk a lot about what to wear on an interview, the best resume format, how to follow up, etc. But have you spent an equal amount of time thinking about the company you want to work for or the job you want to do?

Think for a second about interviewing for your dream job. The job you are equipped for and madly passionate about. What’s your attitude like going into that interview? As you think about it, does the idea of that interview scare you or excite you? I suspect it’s at least a little exciting and all things being equal you’re likely to perform well.

Now think about interviewing for a ho-hum job that you aren’t especially excited about. It’s convenient, or pays well, or is in an industry  you’re familiar with. But it is not your dream job. Think through that  scenario for a minute and compare it to the first. Think from the perspective of the interviewer. Do you think passion or apathy is really masked by a handshake and a smile? Of course not.

I’ve encountered a lot of job seekers who are putting a lot of effort into blasting out dozens–sometimes hundreds–of resumes and going on any interview that comes their way. They are doing a lot. But they haven’t put much thought into their goals. And they certainly haven’t created a plan or strategy to achieve those goals.

Now in all fairness, sometimes you need a job, ANY job, to put gas in the car and food on the table. I’ve been there. What I’m talking about here is someone who has the luxury of time to create a plan but chooses not to.

My point is simply this: Before you do, think. Think about what you want to do and where you want to go. The path will be much easier and the interviews you DO go on will be much better.

In Part 2 of this series I’ll discuss interview best practices and things I’ve seen candidates say and do that made us want to hire them on the spot. I’ll also touch on things candidates said and did (and wore) that killed their chances of landing a job.