Prepare for Your Next Job Interview With This Checklist
For most people, job interviews are inherently nerve-wracking situations. Even if you’re a raving extrovert who loves meeting new people, there’s something about interviews that ratchets up the tension and stress.
The best way to counter the pressure? Be prepared. Knowing what to expect and being ready to make a good first impression will ease your nerves and boost your confidence. Check off the steps on our pre-interview checklist and show the hiring manager that you’re the best candidate for the job.
Get Your Interview Outfit Ready
The way you dress for a job interview tells potential employers a lot about you. The right interview outfit conveys an understanding of the company culture and professional environments in general and shows that you respect the hiring manager and want to make a good impression.
Have an interview outfit ready to go, so you're prepared to interview at a moment's notice. You’ll feel comfortable, confident, and ready to shine.
Analyze the Job Posting
Reread the job posting and analyze it to determine what the employer is looking for in a candidate. Then make a list of the skills, knowledge, professional, and personal qualities that are required by the employer and are most important for success in the job. Be ready to describe the attributes that make you the perfect match for the job. The closer your qualifications match the job requirements, the better chance you'll have of getting a second-round interview and a job offer.
Check Out the Company
How much do you know about the company that you're interviewing with? Before you go to the interview be sure you're well informed.
Research the company by reading their website, looking at their social media presence, reviewing LinkedIn profiles of current and past employees, and talking to any personal connections who’ve worked at the company. Pay special attention to the job skills most common among employees and any mention of the company culture. Culture fit is important – for your happiness, as well as for the employer’s success.
Don’t forget to do a Google News search to find out whether the company has received any positive or negative press recently. You might learn about initiatives that make the company a more attractive employer or you might learn that the organization is in trouble and you’d be better off focusing your attention elsewhere.
Connect With Your Company Contacts
Want to boost your chances of getting hired? Get a referral from a networking connection. Contacts who work for the company (or used to work there and left on good terms) can give you the inside track to getting the job. Hiring managers often prefer to interview candidates who come recommended rather than those who apply online. Your contact can also tell you more about the hiring process at the employer, which will make it easier to navigate than if you come in without insider knowledge.
Practice Answering Interview Questions
Taking the time to review typical interview questions will help give you a framework for your responses. It will also reduce stress because you won't be scrambling for an answer during the interview. Practice interviewing with a friend or family member ahead of time, and it will be much easier when you're actually in a job interview.
Work on Your Interview Technique
A job interview gives you a chance to shine. What you say and what you do is going to either move you to the next round of consideration for employment or knock you out of contention for the job. The more you know about successful interview techniques, the smoother the interview will go. If you're one of those people, and it happens to almost everyone, who gets really anxious about interviews, there are coping strategies you can use to help minimize stress.
Brush Up on Interview Etiquette
Is it okay to bring a cup of coffee or your cell phone to the interview? How should you greet the interviewer? And what should you bring with you to the meeting – just yourself, or your resume and cover letter, or a complete copy of your application including portfolio? Brush up on proper interview etiquette before you go and avoid being caught wrongfooted during the conversation.
Get Directions and Arrange Transportation
It's important to know where you need to go for your job interview. You don't want to be late or arrive out of breath and flustered. Use Google Maps to get directions if you're not sure where you are going. Program your GPS, if you have one, so you can find the best route to the company. Check on parking and/or public transportation, so you arrive with time to spare. Consider doing a test run the day before to make sure you have the right directions.
Bring the Right Things
It's important to know what to bring to a job interview — a portfolio with extra copies of your resume, a list of references, and questions you have for the interviewer. Be sure you have everything you need ready to go. If you’re job searching in earnest, it’s a good idea to prepare a bag with all your materials so that you can be ready to interview whenever an opportunity arises.
Taking the time to say thank you after a job interview not only is good interview etiquette, it reinforces your interest in the position. Your thank-you letter is also an opportunity to address any issues or concerns that came up during the interview. It may even serve as a second chance to emphasize your qualifications.