How to prepare for an interview

How to prepare for an interview

The Scenario: You’re just about to go out the front door for a job interview. You’ve done your homework and studied everything you need to know about the company. You’ve practiced your interview answers with friends and relatives. You’ve got a good night’s sleep so that your senses are sharp and you won’t be caught yawning. Are you ready? The following last-minute tips will help you make your best impression on a prospective employer.


You’re going to be nervous enough as it is. Running late in traffic and frantically looking for a parking space near your destination will frazzle you all the more. Accordingly, you should always allow at least 15 more minutes than you think you will actually need in order to get to your scheduled appointment on time. Note: If you are going somewhere that you’ve never been before, try to arrange a drive-by rehearsal beforehand. You’ll have enough on your mind without having to read street signs and building numbers on an actual day!


Even if you know that the office environment is going to be pretty laid back and casual, it’s no excuse to dress that way for your preliminary interview. Shorts, tank tops, tees, and flip-flops are taboo. Do a front, side, and back view survey in a full-length mirror to make sure there are no stains, rips, missing buttons, strained seams, drooping hems, or spots. Women should check to make sure that they’re not displaying bra straps or slip hems and that their stockings don’t have snags or runs. Gentlemen: Are both of your socks the same color?


You’d be surprised how many employers pay attention to the condition of the applicants’ shoes. Those that are scuffed up, grass-stained or have deplorably run-down heels are interpreted as a sign that the owner doesn’t take very good care of things. Open-toed shoes on females have also been criticized as “provocative,” although many women disregard this rule, especially during the summer months. If you’re intent on committing this fashion faux pas on an interview, always do a last-minute toe-check to make sure that your pedicure isn’t chipped or outgrown.


Did you remember to use deodorant this morning? Give yourself a quick “sniff test”. Remember to use a good mouthwash as well and to pocket a couple of breath mints to pop just before your arrival. Use cologne and aftershave fragrances sparingly. If you find that you’ve applied a little too much, you still have a few minutes to use a damp cloth and tone it down.


Even if your prospective employer tells you that you don’t have to bring anything, always take along 1-3 extra copies of your resume in a plain manila folder or portfolio. Invariably whatever you previously provided to them will get lost or get something spilled on it prior to your arrival. An employer may also invite additional staff to comprise a panel who will appreciate having their own copy of your CV.


If a list of employment or personal references isn’t already incorporated in your resume, check to make sure that you take their phone numbers and email addresses with you.


While most people carry their driver’s license all the time and never really give it a second thought, you’d be surprised how many of them leave home without their wallets on the day of a big interview. They are also not aware that temp agencies and potential employers routinely ask for verification of a candidate’s eligibility to work in the United States. Having your Social Security card with you will save you from having to go back home and get it or make a return trip prior to the hiring decision.


Another item that job applicants always forget to take with them is a pen. Although receptionists are usually very nice about letting you borrow one of theirs to sign in or to fill out a job application, wouldn’t it be better to just come prepared with one of your own?


If you require reading glasses, remember to take them with you. In the event you’re hit with an unexpected test that requires reading or a demonstration of your computer keyboard skills, you’ll feel more confident if you’re not squinting your way through it.


If your someone who is wed to modern technology and never goes anywhere without your cell phone turned on, an interview isn’t the time or place to let people find that out. Don’t rely on your memory to turn the phone off when you reach your destination. In the course of rehearsing your answers and trying to stay calm, I guarantee that you’re going to forget to do this. I also guarantee that it will ring at precisely the wrong moment and not only annoy your listeners but break your train of thought and momentum.

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