It may not be the final step in the application, but landing an interview can certainly feel like the winner's circle, especially in competitive markets.

Whether it was struggling with your cover letter for days or suffering through GMAT prep, your hard work has finally paid off. Now that you have the interview, it's time to do everything within your power to ensure that your interview is a success and takes you one step closer to receiving that acceptance letter or job offer.

Interviews can be nerve-wracking and often uncomfortable experiences. But if you arrive well prepared, you will be able to adjust to any interviewer or type of interview. Whether it's for business school or a job, here are five tips to help you excel at your upcoming interview:

1. Study the organization.

When it comes to interviews, responses that address specific traits or values of a school or company are more likely to yield positive results than generic ones. Familiarize yourself with the ins and outs of the school or company as best as possible. Identify the organization's philosophy, strengths and values. Understanding the ethos will enhance your knowledge of the organization's operations, enabling you to better explain why you believe it's a good fit for you and vice versa. This will also help you construct well-thought-out questions to ask near the end of your interview.

2. Look into the interview methods.

Each school and company conducts interviews differently, so the more you know about the organization's approach to interviews, the better prepared you can be.

For business school interviews, visit the admissions website and related blogs to learn as much as you possibly can. If you or someone you know happens to have a friend at the school in question, reach out and see if the current student can give you any insight into the interview process.

In the event that you don't know anyone and the school doesn't provide much information, use a search engine to try and find out more information about the school's interviews. As for job interviews, sites like Indeed allow current employees and previous applicants to write reviews of companies and comment on their interview experience. Additionally, if possible, you should reach out to any current employees with whom you have a connection to get the most comprehensive and trustworthy picture of the interview.

3. Figure out the why.

In job interviews, every interviewer asks potential candidates why they want the position and why they want to work at the company. Business school admission interviewers pose similar questions, asking why potential students wish to pursue an MBA)and why they want to do so at that particular school. While preparing for your interview, identify your motivation in embarking on this path. Make sure your answer reflects focus and genuine interest, and how you're a perfect match for the organization.

4. Tailor your stories.

An interview is an opportunity for you to flesh out the picture your interviewer has of you while showing that you are a great fit for the school or company. During your interview, providing concrete, well-articulated answers that highlight skills related to the organization's philosophy and values will not only enhance your interviewer's perception of you, it will also drive home the fact that you deserve to attend the school or work at the company. Brainstorm applicable stories, especially ones not shared in prior application materials, and keep them on the short side.

5. Practice makes perfect.

One of the most challenging parts of an interview is overcoming nerves. However, if you review your answers diligently in preparation for your interview, you'll become quite familiar with your responses.

Bio: Harrison Kratz is the Community Manager at [email protected], the online MBA program offered through the University of North Carolina. Harrison also sticks to his entrepreneurial roots as the founder of the global social good campaign, Operation: Social Santa. When he's not working, Harrison switches his focus to great food, watching any sport that's on TV, all things Disney, and traveling. You can find Harrison on Twitter: @KratzPR.

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