Think Ahead: 8 Ways to Prep for a Job Interview
Think Ahead: 8 Ways to Prep for a Job Interview
By Shannon Terry - Resume Confidence
“Luck happens when preparation meets opportunity”
For many years now, being prepared has definitely been a theme in my life in central Florida during Hurricane Season (June 1 – Nov. 30). Starting every May or June, I buy a few items each week at the grocery store to stock up & check the supply list for necessities.
In years past, though Hurricane Charley was forecast to make a direct hit to Tampa Bay, we weathered those impending threats ultimately with nothing but a day of occasional drizzle and normal wind gusts materializing – luckily for us. The storm turned a mere hour before it was predicted to hit us, & made land about 2 hours south of us instead.
Get Prepared In The Calm BEFORE The Storm ….
Our boarded windows, gallons of water and stockpiled canned goods ended up being unnecessary precautions. Yet, as we put our yard furniture back outside and return the valuables to their original locations, we were more than grateful for the time, money, and energy we spent preparing for this – a real threat of natural disaster.
Sometimes we get lazy, or maybe even a bit arrogant (who? us? NEVER!) and we neglect to prepare, we ignore what we know we should do, or are told by those ‘in the know’ to do.
For example, someone who should know better (by her own admission), walked into an interview the other day having not done any research on the company.
What was the first question asked? “What do you know about our company?” — UH OH. That’s a hard one to answer on charm and ‘BS” alone, now isn’t it?
Just like the beach folks who decided to ride out the storm in their waterfront homes down in southwest Florida where Charley did strike, which was also included in the ‘cone of the storm’s potential storm track', sometimes we regret not thinking and acting ahead of time. We get cocky at worse, complacent at best.
We think, “Oh, I can handle this", “No big deal”.
For every one client that is being proactive and working on their resume and cover letter content BEFORE they have a great job opportunity in front of them, I get two or three who call frantically asking, “How quickly can we get the resume done?, or “Do you have an interview coaching appointment available right away??” (and then I have to tell them, regretfully, that I don’t do rush jobs (because they can’t be done well and I don’t do just so-so work, or, I'm just booked ….and those that DO rush jobs are going to charge you extra – maybe a lot extra – for it, just FYI, believe me on this one!)
I’m not suggesting we always carry water, duct tape, a change of clothes and a snake bit kit any time we leave the house “just in case”. It is simply a fact, though, that some things are easier to see coming than others. I carry my drivers license, cash, a comb and Tylenol almost always, which I can reasonable expect to need from time to time.
If we are job searching, we know what we need to do and the basics that will be asked of us.
We can easily avoid an impending interview disaster!
Take the time to think ahead and make sure you have, and have done, all that you need to ensure success. THEN it is time to relax and go with the flow of whatever happens, knowing you did your best to be ready for the typical, logical patterns and events.
Here are 8 pretty easy ways to prepare for a job interview AHEAD OF TIME:
1. Put together a reference sheet. Don’t show up to an interview without it, in case you are asked for it in person (and/or, you'll have it ready if asked to submit it online after the interview)
2. Prep your references before you even arrive at the interview. I think this is one of the most important ones. Drop a short email or quick call that they may be hearing from someone at the XYZ Company & tell them the job you applied for, and a bit about it. This is a courteous to your references, and, helps them speak about your best qualities & skills that fit that particular job.
3. Review your resume and other job / job search related materials. I love this example story: A friend and client decided last week, in an effort to motivate herself and get out of a job search slump feeling, decided to reread notes from an old motivational leadership seminar she had attended years ago (which, by the way, is always a great way to prepare yourself and get the leading edge – continuing education throughout your career.) She had used that particular style and motto of leadership in her previous positions and really resonated with the techniques and value system.
Her prep strategy worked. She felt energized and passionate about her work again as she went into her third round of interviews, this time with the CEO of the company, who would be her direct supervisor.
As he looked over her resume, he said “Oh, I see you’re a fan of (and quoted a somewhat obscure theme of the class she had taken – the notes she had just reviewed that morning).” She said she was amazed – had she not prepared herself mentally in this way prior to this interview, she would not have remembered the precise point the CEO referenced, and would have stared blankly and fumbled. Instead, she was able to immediately chime in an accurate and inspired reply that surely impressed the interviewer. Her PEP strategy to get out of her slump ended up being a fantastic PREP strategy as well!
4. Print copies of an updated and impressive resume to have on hand for the interviewers (you'd maybe be surprised how many show up to the interview without a copy to reference. When you are prepared, you gracefully save them from awkward embarrassment!)
5. Research a company you are interested in (see above for a few reasons why!) Of course the internet, but also, LinkedIn are great tools for this!
6. Keep a list of jobs applied for easily accessible so you are ready when they call you (in case they don't email the interview invite) and you aren't awkwardly trying to remember in the moment. Review it periodically to keep details fresh in your mind about companies, job titles, etc. you are waiting to hear from.
7. Have your “Power Outfit” ready: buy pantyhose or a new tie if needed; shine your shoes, get your interview suit dry cleaned NOW, not frantically the morning they call to interview you that afternoon or the next day. You'll always do better in an interview if you FEEL good about your physical appearance.
8. For video interviews: TEST YOUR WEBCAM and the software you'll be using if possible, too. Check your set up, the lighting, know how to use an on screen background if you prefer that, make sure your family/house mates either won't be around or know you cannot be disturbed for 15 minutes before until 15-30 min after your scheduled interview time. Period. No exceptions except fire or threat of death or natural disaster!
Be prepared ahead of time, and you will handle “this” — a.k.a any case scenario — with grace and ease, thanks to your forward thinking,- and actions - of course!
Disaster - and unnecessary STRESS - all avoided, and replaced by confidence and poise. This will surely impress any employer!
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Shannon Terry has been a Resume Writer and Owner of Resume Confidence: Resume Writing & Interview Coaching for more than 15 years, with an early career background in corporate training and education.
She's seen this business from all angles: as an independent writer, in corporate career services, college career centers, government sponsored workforce development programs and as a contract/behind the scenes resume writer for large online resume writing services.
Her approach has, and always will be, to educate, encourage, and thus empower job seekers to “reclaim their job search mojo.”
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