How to be confident in an interview is about being ready for a productive, two-sided conversation. Strong candidates go in with knowledge of the company and an eagerness to learn. When your mind is prepared and you have questions to ask about your potential role and responsibilities, there’s no place at the table for nerves. Really great job interviews are a two-way street. Here are proven tips for making that happen.

What does it mean today to be prepared?

When we’re about to make a big investment, the more information we have, the more confident we are in our decisions. Interview confidence comes from the same deep dive for facts. Go from big to small picture in gaining an understanding of the company and its industry. Learn about their history, their infrastructure, significant contributions to their industry, their competitors, offerings, alliances, any mergers or acquisitions, and their financial performance if it’s public.

Search for articles in mainstream business and trade news. Explore the company’s social media presence to get a feel for their public persona. And note questions you’d like to ask. For example, if you find the company recently expanded, acquired a competitor or let 500 people go, you might ask how those events affected the culture. Due diligence gives you tremendous confidence and proves you did your research. Asking questions helps you share the stage.

Be relevant by knowing your audience.

It’s easy to have a relaxed, conversational meeting when you know as much about your interviewer as they know about you. This helps you relate responses to that person’s subject matter expertise. You’ll hold their attention, too. For example, if you meet with a CFO, prepare finance-focused responses about your experience.

To achieve this, know the interviewer’s title and areas of responsibility. See if there is a photo and bio on the website. Read about them on LinkedIn. Are they quoted in company news releases? Maybe speaking engagements have been covered in business or trade news. You may find conversation starters that aren’t even business-related.

One candidate I interviewed came in and started talking about Auburn football. It was clear that he researched me and learned about my undergrad school. That created a strong and lasting impression. Many clients say how much they liked specific candidates who came in with relevant questions, knew the business and were even knowledgeable about game plans for the coming year.

Keep it on the level.

Knowing your audience also gives you self-assurance in tailoring your responses to the interviewer’s level within the company. If you’re talking with an executive, go with the big picture, strategy, and your achievements that impacted productivity or performance. Lower-level interviewers relate easier to tactical, day-to-day experience.

The 2/3 – 1/3 rule.

I recommend that candidates spend two-thirds of an interview talking about their background, and one-third of that time engaging the interviewer with questions, observations, ideas, and knowledge of the company. Again, it’s a two-way street.

How to be confident in a job interview means being prepared, knowing your audience and being relevant. These are sure to reflect your strong interest in the company and position, and your natural drive to be successful.