How to be uber prepared for a job interview … from the second you apply to the moment your interview begins

By Kathy Bernard, Get a Job, Blogs & Workshops

Think back to every job interview you ever had. Then think of all the ways you would have done things better if you would have gotten a “do over.” It’s important to realize anything can go wrong in an interview, so follow this checklist to be really ready and then vow to be as prepared as possible for each interview … after all … it can help you Get a Job!

Save and use the Get a Job! Interview Preparation Checklist document, or scroll to read the checklist online. (The link above leads to an executable document, which means you should be able to check off each item.)

Interview Preparation Checklist

General Preparedness

  • Save or print the job description as soon as you apply for the job.
  • Review the job description and bring it with you, or have it in front of you for a phone interview.
  • Know the name of the people interviewing you and their titles. Know how to pronounce their names.
  • Know the names/titles of company leaders. View their photos on the company web site or Google Images.
  • Study the company’s web site and review its news or press release web page. Note new products/services, major new hires, important business changes, and its stock price and how the stock is trending.
  • Research the industry. Be prepared to discuss company/industry news and trends knowledgeably and comfortably.
  • Get to know company and industry acronyms and jargon.
  • Ask knowledgeable people within the industry about the company.
  • Contact people within the company who can help you. Let them know you are applying; send them your resume, samples, etc.
  • Review your resume and bring copies of it and the cover letter you sent the company to the interview.
  • Prepare for challenging interview questions. Good sources: About.com or CollegeGrad.com.
  • If applicable, bring samples. Make sure they are not too dated, wrinkled, etc., or are in the wrong technological format, such as on VHS tape. If in wrong format, convert them to current standards.
  • Practice voice modulation, eye contact and listening skills. Ask others if you speak too loud, soft, fast or slow; or if you mumble or have an annoying practice such as clearing your throat, or a tendency to interrupt, not listen, etc.

Dress/Hygiene Preparedness

  • Dress better than the company dress code. When in doubt, men should wear a suit and tie; women should wear a suit with skirt (acceptable: jacket and skirt) with pantyhose. If it really a dress down place, wear nice slacks and a dress jacket. Do not wear sandals or tennis shoes.
  • Try on your outfit ahead of time. Check for proper fit and that there are no stains, wrinkles, odors, loose hems, or outdated styling. Check shoes for wear and appropriateness. Avoid bow ties, loud colors, or anything too revealing.
  • Make sure your hair is appropriately styled, cleaned and combed and that your nails, ears and nose are clean and trimmed, Avoid eating smell-producing foods for at least a day ahead of time. Pop a breath mint before the meeting. Discard gum before the interview. Keep perfume/cologne, make-up and jewelry at an appropriate level.
  • Do not smell like smoke or alcohol.

Travel and On-site Preparedness

  • Search for the directions on MapQuest, GoogleMaps or similar site. Print and bring the directions.
  • Drive by the location ahead of time (preferably at the same time/day of the week as your interview). Note the parking situation.
  • Allow plenty of time for traffic jams, parking problems and inevitable things that will go wrong.
  • Bring dollar bills and enough coins for parking garages or parking meters.
  • Bring a sheet of detailed information about your past jobs and educational history in case you have to fill out an application form on site. Use the Get a Job! Application Form Preparation Sheet. (The file is executable, meaning you should be able to fill in the blanks.)
  • Use any on-site waiting time to:
    • Check your appearance using the bathroom mirror.
    • Review the job description, your list of interviewers’ names and titles, company information, etc.
    • Practice calming techniques such as prayer, self talk, reviewing your prepared responses, etc.
    • Professionally befriend the receptionist and passersby. Remember people’s names and call them by name.
    • Turn off your cell phone (don’t even have it on vibrate).

Next week, I’ll talk about how to shine during your actual job interview … in the meantime, review my helpful “Get a Job! links below and let me know how I can help you. Here’s to hoping you … Get a Job!

12 Comments

  1. Hi,

    These are fantastic tips. But you need to account for the strange phenomenon I have encountered over the past 6 months where line managers and HR have not done their job properly. There is nothing you can do if you are actually the WRONG person for the job. Or, if the hiring company wants to poach someone from a competitor. There is nothing you can do in an interview when that’s the real agenda.

    Casper

  2. You need to be very well prepared for the interview, but if you don’t reallu want that job it is very difficult, and if you are at an interview for your dream job, you will talk more than you think. Nice article thank you ! Best regards Power Strategies Team

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