Job Interviews: A Checklist for Your Preparation

Preparing for the interview can mean the difference between receiving a job offer and never hearing from the company again. Many job hunters carefully hone their resume into a razor sharp tool to attract the attention of prospective employers, but drop the ball once the interview is scheduled and decide to just wing it. Even if you’re a smooth talker, this isn’t a good plan. The job market is extremely competitive right now, especially when top-paying positions are on the line, and tripping over your own tongue at a critical moment can really cost you. Use these tips to prepare for your next job interview:

Research the Company
Before going into any interview, research the company. At a minimum, find out:
• Is it a private or public company?
• Does the company own any subsidiaries? Or is it part of a larger organization?
• What is their primary product or service?
• What is their typical interview scenario? Will you be talking to one person, a group or panel, or a series of managers?
• What is the dress code?
To find out more about what the company is looking for and maybe even get a few interview tips, look online, call your business contacts, search related online forums, and ask questions on social network sites geared towards professionals.

Prepare. Write your answers down and revise each one until you’re completely satisfied with the answer.

Practice the Hard Questions
Think about the hard questions you’ve been asked in the past or some you might be asked by this interviewer. Write your answers down and revise each one until you’re completely satisfied with the answer. Practice reading them aloud before reciting from memory. If you have a friend or family member who can stand in for the interviewer, this is even better. Before you’re through, the answers should roll off your tongue like an award-winning actor delivering his lines. Here are some of the questions most people need to prepare for:
• Tell us a little about yourself – Briefly mention your personal interests, but spend most of the time discussing your professional experience.
• Can you tell us about one of your best work experiences? Be prepared with concrete examples.
• What is your best quality? What is your worst? Be honest, but try to spin a bad quality into something that could be perceived as a benefit.
• Why are you looking for a new job? Don’t talk about bad bosses or low pay scales. Instead, talk about the need to expand and grow your skills.
• What’s your five-year plan? Express a desire to grow and move up in the company.
• Do you have any questions? – While researching, prepare a list of intelligent questions to ask. No one should leave an interview without asking at least one good question.

Be Prepared to Make a Great First Impression
In addition to knowing what to say, it’s also important to know how to act during the interview. Shake hands firmly, make eye contact, and speak with confidence, but don’t act cocky. Get a good night’s sleep before your appointment to look well-rested and healthy. Pause before answering even if you’ve planned your answers to make it look like you’re giving each question an appropriate amount of thought. Above all else, remember to smile; this puts people at ease and can make a big difference if your interviewer is having a rough day. In addition to making sure you’re qualified for the job, the interview is used to see if you’ll fit in with your coworkers. Take this chance to make a great first impression.

Plan for Everything
To make sure the day of the interview goes smoothly, plan for everything. A day or so before, drive by the office to learn the route, the traffic situation, and the available parking. Place an umbrella in your car in case of bad weather and fill up the tank with gas. Plan to arrive at least 10 minutes early so that you won’t feel rushed. Bring several copies of your resume as well as a pen and a pad of paper to take notes. Although these seem like simple things, avoiding any potential problems can mean lower stress levels and a more relaxed interview.

By preparing for the interview, your chances of landing the job increase significantly.

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