“By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.”
— Benjamin Franklin
After sending out more resumes than you ever expected, you finally receive that much-anticipated call to an interview. Though this an exciting moment, job searchers often tell me that they worry about being unprepared for this critical step in the job search process.
To help alleviate your anxiety, we have gathered some tips to help prepare for this important moment:
1. Location – figure out the exact address of the interview and make sure you know how to get there. It would be best to try and visit the interview location in advance, so you know how to get there and locate the parking or the closest public transit stop. Otherwise, call and ask the Receptionist for the exact address and directions.
2. Clothes – dress to impress. Don’t assume the dress is the same across all industries. Your clothes should convey the message that you are a good match to the company. Ideally, visit the office before the interview to check out the dress code. You can also call and ask – explain that you are attending an interview and wanted to know the dress code at the company. Once you have figured out the dress code, take it up a notch and dress a bit better than everyone else, if you can. When staff members see you waiting at the Reception, they should be able to tell that you are there for the interview.
3. Answers – prepare your answers to the interviewer’s questions; be ready to talk about yourself, prepare examples about your work and skills, be ready to discuss difficulties in your work history (such as a bad ending to a job), as well as your weaknesses and strengths. Know how to deal with questions about your salary expectations. Practice answering questions with a friend or job search professional (such as those at our Employment Source Centres).
4. Questions – prepare questions that you will ask an interviewer. Choose questions that present you as someone who is genuinely interested in the job and the employer. For tips on asking questions, check out this article from Monster.ca’s Career Advice site.
5. Portfolio – have a professional binder that showcases your professional background, including examples and evidence of your work, skills, education and accomplishments. For good advice on preparing an effective portfolio, check out the post on Job Hunting Portfolios on our blog.
6. References – bring a list of three references which you can share with employers, if they request it. Also on our blog, you will find excellent tips for Collecting and Presenting References, presented by one of our Employment Specialist.
7. Company research – prepare your research on the company, gathering information about its history, mission and work. You will find information on the Internet, including the company website and newspaper articles, as well as the company’s LinkedIn page (which is my favourite source of company information). Print out the “about us” section of the company website and bring it.
8. Find the original job posting, as well as the resume and cover letter you sent for this position. Read them through with care and make sure to bring them to the interview. I recommend bringing at least 3 copies of your cover letter and resume, to hand out to interviewer(s), if needed.
Organise all the papers neatly in a professional folder, together with a pen, pencil (in case the pen fails) and note paper (if necessary, you can take brief notes during the interview).
Remember to switch off your cell phone before the interview. Take a big breath, put on your best smile and be ready for success!