For many job seekers, the interview is the most stressful part of the process. As your first (and perhaps only) face-to-face meeting with the potential employer, there’s a lot of pressure to showcase your skills, your relevancy, and your cultural fit during one 60-minute conversation. The secret to doing well in an interview–and minimizing your pre-interview anxiety–is to thoroughly prepare ahead of time. Indeed, there are plenty of things you can do well before the interview that put you in a position to succeed once the meeting starts. Here are 11 tips on how you can put yourself in a winning position with solid interview preparation.

The importance of interview preparation

Research shows that the brain responds more strongly to training in a new skill than it does to learning the new skill later on. And people who regularly train in unfamiliar tasks do just as well as those who apply the training in new situations, a new study shows. (The study focused on tactics to study for an entrance exam, such as memorizing key facts and figures before the test.) When you prepare for an interview, prepare to answer a set of anticipated questions well. That means you have to know the company’s values and where you would fit into the business. You need to be prepared to talk about specific projects you’ve worked on and the results you’ve achieved. You need to know how you’ll meet the expected goal.

Understand the company culture

Much like the ideal job candidate, a savvy interviewer understands the corporate culture–what they look for and what he or she is looking for in a candidate. You need to know who you’re up against and what the company you’re interviewing for is looking for from a cultural perspective.

Get to know the interviewer

First and foremost, you should spend time getting to know the interviewer. Where did they go to school? Where did they grow up? How long have they been with the company and what are their job responsibilities? You’re building a relationship that could prove to be helpful when the job is offered or the interview is done. Include them on your social networks (as long as your social profiles are professional) and keep in touch, especially if you’re in the interview process for multiple positions. Use job posting announcements or stay connected with your network so you can stay on top of any news about new job openings in the field.

Prepare your elevator pitch

The first ten minutes of an interview with a potential employer will be spent finding out if you are a good fit for the position. This means getting to know each other, and the job you are applying for. Your interviewer will do his/her due diligence, so make sure you do your due diligence as well. What is your major professional/technical/marketing/commercial skillset? A question like “Tell me about yourself” can’t get past a bald statement like “I am a very hard worker, very serious,” or “I am very goal-driven.” Instead, craft a short statement that says something like, “I can approach any challenge with a positive attitude, and I am very detail-oriented.”

Research the company

It’s always smart to take the time to get a feel for a company before the interview. After all, the company’s values and corporate culture will shape the way your experience in the role meshes with the company’s vision. Although you don’t need to know every detail of the organization’s history, figure out how the company is currently run and where the company is heading. What’s the organizational structure? How are employees organized? What are some of the people/departments the company is currently experiencing challenges with?

Prepare your resume

Before the meeting, begin collecting information on the employer and its business in order to craft the most complete and relevant answers to the interviewer’s questions. Before you actually submit your resume, carefully go through your employment history, highlighting the events, roles, and accomplishments that the interviewer will likely be most interested in. Related: Six Key Parts of a Strong Resume Research the company, its industry, and competitors As you prepare for the interview, research the company. Answer all the questions you can about its operations.

Practice interviews with a friend

It can be difficult to practice for an interview on your own. Getting together with a friend to play the role of the hiring manager, interviewer, or recruiter for a few hours, and then comparing notes afterwards, can be very helpful. You can catch and correct grammatical errors, ask questions to confirm or challenge your understanding of the company’s culture, and practice responding to potentially provocative questions. Meet with a recruiter If you’re looking for new job opportunities, make sure to schedule a meeting with a recruiter who’s familiar with your industry. Find out what the recruiting cycle is like for your prospective company. Having this information can be a real confidence booster.

Create answers for behavioral or situational interview questions

Many job seekers struggle with providing answers to behavioral questions. For instance, when asked what are the skills or attributes they bring to the role, their typical answer is “social media experience” or generic “communication skills.” Instead, you should think about the question, think about how you would respond, and then think about how you would answer the specific follow-up questions. Then, you can craft a meaningful response. This means you need to be prepared with a positive, effective response. Don’t be afraid to go beyond your natural reaction to the question. If the interviewer asks you why you’re in the role and how you were able to earn the role, say something that shows you’ve done your homework and done the research.

Prepare for job-related interview questions

There are lots of ways to prepare for common job-related interview questions. What is your most valuable business skill? How does your work relationship with your boss compare to that of your predecessor? What motivates you to stay at the company? The simple answer is to conduct research on the company before the interview and arrive with as much detail as possible about your experience and strengths in your interview answers. Examine your resume and LinkedIn profile If you don’t have a strong personal brand online, make it a priority to craft a professional LinkedIn profile for your job hunt.

Nail the interview

Before the interview, you’ll want to have a baseline of knowledge about the company you’re about to meet. If you’ve read the company website or watched the company’s recent press conference, be prepared to discuss its new initiatives. If you’re not aware of the business, research the company, its major competitors, and the industry sector in which it operates to provide a strong sense of the company’s scope and niche. Get the right headshots. You never know when the moment will come to show the people you meet how seriously you take the job search. A good headshot (not one of those blurry iPhone photos) is going to make you stand out from the crowd and help you get hired.