It seems like you’ve been sending out cover letters and résumés forever. Suddenly, a prospective employer calls and asks you to come in for a job interview. Take this as a compliment, as unqualified applicants typically are eliminated well before the interview process. Being invited to a face-to-face meeting is a sign that you’re a serious candidate for the job.
Before you head out the door, study this helpful checklist to make sure that you are fully prepared for this important appointment.
Before your interview, make certain you have:
• Recent haircut or hairstyle
• Clean, manicured fingernails
• Starched shirt or blouse
• Pressed suit or professional outfit appropriate for the business in question
Questions to think about carefully beforehand:
• Do you have a clear understanding of the position for which you are applying?
• What distinguishes you from other candidates for the position?
• What five qualities make you a good candidate?
• What are your strengths and weaknesses? How do you compensate for your weaknesses?
• Why do you want to work for the company?
• Why should the company hire you?
• What skills or experiences qualify you for the job?
• What education or training qualifies you for the job?
• What hobbies or outside interests make you a better candidate?
• What were your key accomplishments during school and in your past positions?
• Can you discuss each item on your résumé or job application in detail?
• Can you list your full employment history with accurate names, addresses, and dates for each job?
Things to do shortly before the interview:
• Conduct a mock interview with a trusted friend or colleague for practice.
• Prepare a list of names and telephone numbers of at least three individuals who have agreed to be your personal references.
• Research the company with whom you are interviewing in order to have a general understanding of both the company history and its position in the industry.
• Spread the word through your network to see if anyone has contacts at the company that could be a helpful resource before and during the interview.
• Prepare a list of questions to ask the interviewer.
• Get detailed directions to the office and make transportation arrangements to arrive at the interview easily and promptly.
• Research salaries in order to have a clear expectation of how much you may be offered.
• Prepare a “closing” for the interview that expresses your desire for the job and inquires about the next step in the interview process.
What to bring to the interview:
• Extra copies of your résumé
• Business references from former supervisors, colleagues, or clients.
This can be either a list of names and phone numbers or actual letters of reference.
• Written performance appraisals
• Folder or small briefcase
• Appointment book
• Notepad and pen
• Memos or letters confirming past achievements
• Personal compensation history
• Portfolio of nonproprietary samples of your work, such as writing samples, technical drawings, or brochures of products that you’ve sold or developed.
• College transcripts, if you are a recent graduate
• A list of questions to ask prospective employer
• Any documents you may need for the interview, such as a passport, Social Security card, or driver’s license.
The day of the interview:
• Arrive at least 15 minutes early. Visit the restroom and check your appearance in the mirror.
• Check in with the receptionist and let him or her know that you have arrived and have an appointment. (Remember to be very polite; employers will often ask the receptionist for their first impressions of interviewees.)
• Be friendly and cordial with the interviewer, but listen 80 percent of the time and talk 20 percent unless questioned directly.
• After the interview, send a handwritten thank-you note to the interviewer that restates your interest and commitment to the position and expresses your gratitude for his or her time and consideration.
• About a week after the first interview, call the employer to check on the progress of the job search.