Candidate Interview Preparation Checklist
You want to work for the company, they’ve seen your credentials and they’ve asked you in for an interview. You want the job. Here are some suggestions that will help you make sure your interview goes as well as possible.
Thorough preparation is critical. It is great for your confidence in the interview room and it leaves a very positive impression with the interviewers.
- Get the logistics right. Time, location, interviewer’s name and position title. Confirm the directions and have the interviewer’s phone number and assistant’s name.
- Do your research. Find out as much as possible about the company: size, scope, location of branches and offices, financial/share performance, range of products and services, etc. Find out information on the individuals that you will be interviewing with. The company website, annual report, or friends who may have worked there are good sources of information.
- Do some more research. Make sure you have key data in your head about your existing and most recent employers. How do your experiences meet and exceed the company’s expectations in relation to:
- Duties and responsibilities
- Skills, abilities and experience
- Industry, product and network knowledge
- Educational qualifications
- Organization structure
- Working environment
- Opportunity for challenge/career advancement
- Do even more research. Ask former co-workers to tell you about your professional traits. What did they most admire? Try to find some faults as well. This leaves you more prepared for questions such as “What are your greatest faults” or “If I were working with you…”
- Develop your skills and character inventory. Many interviewers conduct Behavioral Interviews, where they will be listening for situations where you displayed the skills or traits they feel are important in successful incumbents. To be prepared for such an interview, make a list of the skills and character traits that have helped you to become a success in the past – make the lists as long as you can. For each identified skill or character trait, develop a “true account” of how you have successfully utilized that skill or character trait and the result. See Skills and Character
- Practice (see below). Be prepared to answer any interview question asked of you. The only tough question is the one you are not prepared for. Take time to run through some of your answers. Don’t over-rehearse, but make sure that you are coming across confidently. (Review the list of potential questions at Interview Questions
- Prepare questions. The employer will be trying to determine whether you fit the available role. You should also take the opportunity to ensure that the company is right for you. Develop a list of questions to ask each interviewer about the company, the expectations, and the manager.
- Present yourself well. Find out what the company culture is regarding business dress. If in doubt, go more formal, not less formal. Make sure you are well groomed.
During the Interview
The goal of the interview is to move the process to the next step: getting a face-to-face interview, moving to the final interview, or getting an offer.
If you are scheduled for a phone interview, understand the company’s purpose for this interview is to narrow down the list of potential candidate or to “screen out” those who do not appear to match their needs. Therefore this conversation is very critical to you as the candidate and should be managed carefully. See Interview Tips for tips to make the telephone interview successful.
In either interview format, focus particularly on the way you answer questions.
- Be descriptive. Don‟t just answer “yes” or “no” to questions. Be prepared to provide “mini-stories” that present your background, skills and achievements that would benefit the employer. (“Here is what I will do for you…”). But avoid “over answering.” Make your answers colorful but not lengthy.
- Sell yourself to the interviewer. Without exaggeration or telling lies, market yourself, “blow your own horn” and explain why you‟d be right for the role. But don‟t come across as arrogant.
- Avoid making negative remarks about your current employer, or past employers or colleagues. This will only reflect on you in the interview.
- Be an active listener. Take notes on important information about the position, expectations, company goals or any other pertinent information.
- Be determined. Make sure you remain enthusiastic about the opportunity throughout the entire interview. Make it clear that you want to get the job, even if you are given information in the interview that sheds a new light on the role. Be positive, and then evaluate the opportunity again when you are away from the interview. Don‟t burn your bridges.
- Have positive body language, and maintain a good posture.
- Compensation & benefits. There will probably not be any discussion regarding compensation and/or benefits. If you are asked about compensation, you should only verify your current compensation with the interview and state that you are sure an offer will be appropriate.
- Get contact information. Ask for business cards or contact information on everyone you meet with during your interview.
- Close for the job. Make sure to close for the next step if the interviewer does not mention anything. Ask for the job or when the next interview will occur.
- “I like what I’ve seen and heard today.”
- “I know I can be an asset to this organization based on my…(key matches between the employer’s hot buttons‟ (see Employer Hot Buttons and what you can provide).
- “What I don’t know, I am willing to learn”
- What concerns do you have from the interview?
Now it is time to “close the deal”. This is the time where you can differentiate yourself from the other applicants.
- Call me immediately after the interview. I need your immediate feedback from the interview.
- How was the fit? Do you feel you can thrive in that environment?
- What concerns do you have from the interview?
- If money was discussed, what was said or committed to?
- What is the next step in the process and when is it to happen?
- Did you get all information you need to understand the opportunity?
- Did the hiring manager get all the information they need to form a positive opinion?
- Did the hiring manager raise any concerns, and if so how did you respond?
I will have a similar conversation with the hiring manager. By getting your feedback, I can then effectively reinforce your capabilities, clarify any questions or missing information, and address any potential concerns.
- “Thank you” notes. Send a “thank you” note to every individual you met with during the interview. If appropriate, hand written notes make a strong impression. The notes should be personal to each individual and should reinforce something from your interview with them.