Do you have an interview checklist? You can only be so prepared for an interview, especially when you are still working in your current job and you are interviewing for multiple roles. However, every candidate needs to do a little bit of preparation before every interview. It’s not only common sense, it will end up being what sets you apart from the competition!!
So with that in mind, and to keep it simple and easy, I wanted to share with you my Interview Preparation Checklist. These are the absolute MUST DO’s before you go into each and every interview (yes…even with us recruiters)!! You can of course do more than this but these are the basic ones that too often, I see candidates skipping some or all of and then losing out on a great opportunity.
Bookmark this page and come back to it before you go to your next interview!
Interview Preparation Checklist:
- Research the company
Hello Google!! But also, ask around, get some insight from any contacts or friends who work there or have worked there. Ask your recruiter for their insight!
HINT – Did you know that if you type in the name of a company and then under the Google search bar, click on “news”, the results will bring up all the latest news articles about said company. This is a great way to know what is currently going on in this organisation!
- Research your Interviewer
LinkedIn makes this easy – but also take the same approach as above. Ask around, do some Googling. Know whom you are meeting with and what their background is. (It is even better if you can find some common ground or people you both know).
- Review your resume!
I know, this sounds simple but look it over and make sure you know what you have included and left out!! The better you know your resume, the more confident you will be when talking about your experience and your career to date.
- Plan your Answers
Crazy right, how can you predict what you will be asked? Most interviews include some behavioural based questions (click here to find out more). It is really important you have a list of examples you can give to these questions and don’t try to think them up on the spot.
Have a handful of really good examples you can call on. Usually one example would suit a variety of questions, you just need to be prepared!
- Rehearse your examples out loud!
Don;t worry about sounding silly! You need to practice articulating your answers and examples of your experience out loud. You don’t want to stumble on your responses (and it is an easy thing to do during an interview). Check out what Nyome had to say about this recently here.
- Plan YOUR questions.
Make sure you are prepared to ask the interviewer questions (more often than not, candidates forget this step). Asking questions is so important in an interview and it is an opportunity to demonstrate your enthusiasm for the role as well as the fact that you have researched the company.
- Have your outfit planned
Make sure your shirts are ironed and clean. Suit up and dress to impress. It is always better to be overdressed for an interview than underdressed.
- Triple check the interview details
You are human, mistakes can happen – trust me I’ve made many. Triple check you know what time your interview is, where you are going and how you are going to get there (on time)! Nothing worse than rocking up to your interview flustered because you got the time wrong or couldn’t find the address, etc.
- Tell yourself You ROCK!
Be confident and believe in yourself. As recruiters, we believe in you, that is why we’ve sent you to our client or called you in to meet with us. Remind yourself of your skills and that you are a valuable team member.
Of course, there are other things you can do for an interview and there are sometimes homework “tasks” you are asked to do before specific interviews. But as a rule of thumb, the above checklist works! Being prepared and demonstrating this during your interview (and believe me, clients and recruiters know if you have prepared) really sets you a part from what most of your competition is doing. So take a little time, the day or night before an interview and go over this checklist.
If you are still not feeling confident or have other questions you want clarity around, contact us at Sprint. We are here to help and will always go over any interview preparation you think you may need.
As a recruiter I have met HUNDREDS of people!!! While everyone is different i.e. different skills, appearances and backgrounds, what do you think is the one quality that makes a candidate stand out from the masses???…………………………..POSITIVITY!!!
As an interviewer, no matter if you are an agency recruiter or an internal hiring manager, the most frustrating interviews are held with those that have a negative view on life. The ability to turn negatives into positives is a rare skill, but something that I think everybody should strive towards!
When I ask “Why did you leave your last job”? I am really not looking for any of the following answers;
- “My boss was really negative all the time, and I didn’t like him/her”
- “I had no friends in the company”
- “I haven’t been promoted”
While these things may be true, sometimes it’s all in the delivery of the answer that can make or break your chances at interview. Therefore before you answer, put yourself in the interviewer’s shoes. What are they likely to think of the above answers?
- Why was the manager negative towards this candidate? Was it because they were a poor performer?
- Why did she have no friends? Concerning.
- Were they not promoted because they were a poor performer?
Even if the last company you worked for was the worst company on the face of the earth, it is important to explain to the interviewer the positives that you got out of working there. Honestly, try to avoid even mentioning the negatives if you can help it because when you leave an interview, you want that interviewer to think positive things about you and your experience. You want them to be excited about the possibility of offering you (or helping you to find) a job. I can guarantee you that if you make even one negative comment without turning it into a positive; you will be remembered by the negative -even if you gave 10 other very positive answers.
You don’t want to be remembered as the candidate “that hated their boss”, you want to be the candidate that “was so positive and engaging that I want to hire him/her!”
You may think that you can rely on your skills and experience to get you over the line… however I cannot even count the number of times that I have chosen to put a person forward to a client with a positive, friendly attitude that is lacking the right experience, OVER that negative Nancy with the perfect resume!
Some food for thought…
What to wear? What not to wear? Are bright colours okay or should I stick to dark? What about creative companies??? And the list goes on in terms of questions I regularly receive regarding “What to wear to interviews?”
My answer has always been very simple “It’s always better to be overdressed than underdressed for interviews, you need to look smart and show your prospective employer that you are ready for business….however, you always want to show some of your personality”
I’m sure you are saying “What the hell does that mean?!”
Let’s break it down to a couple of key bullet points…
- Irrespective of what type of company, corporate or creative, CBD based, out in the sticks, large or small….an interview is an interview. End of story. It’s not a gossip catch up with the girls where jeans, thongs and t-shirt is okay. It’s your first chance to impress someone. Would you go on a date with a hot guy or girl that you REALLLLYYYYY like looking like you’d just been pulled through the bush backwards? Of course not, you would spend all day agonising over your outfit, how to wear it, how to do your hair, you’d shower, make yourself smell nice rada rada.
- Well an interview is probably nowhere near as exciting as a hot date (unfortunately!) however, it is still the time for you to show a prospective employer what you are made of and as clichéd as it sounds “FIRST IMPRESSIONS LAST”.
- It DOES matter if you iron your shirt, it DOES matter if your shoes are scuffed and it DEFINITELY DOES matter if you turn up to an interview looking like you’ve just rolled out of bed with no make-up on and your hair all over the place.
- Ask yourself as you walk out the door ‘If I was in a position to hire a new employee, would I hire ME???.
- Not to be too harsh about this but staff are the single biggest risk and cost to businesses in Australia. Australian salaries are high compared to other countries and on top of that companies are required by law to make super contributions, pay workers compensation as well as payroll tax to the government – in short, staff are a major cost to companies so don’t act surprised when they say they want to hire THE BEST OF THE BEST! If you don’t look the part, if you can’t make an effort (and I mean a real effort) they why should they make an effort to hire you?!
So again what does this all mean in terms of your dress and appearance for interviews…
- For girls nothing beats a dress with a jacket or a straight pencil skirt, modern shirt and top with jacket as well as heels and some tasteful jewellery. None of this needs to cost a fortune. You can buy one great black dress (try to buy it in wool, it will breathe and also last longer) and change the look with different coloured shirts underneath, different coloured belts, even coloured shoes. You also don’t have to wear a black jacket, something with a bit of colour is fine as long as it’s not too loud (avoid neon’s for 1st interview).
- You can jazz it up a bit with coloured necklaces or a groovy bangle but don’t go overboard. A bit of colour is fine, too much and you’ll look overdone.
- For boys, if it is a very corporate company then I would suggest a suit. Pants, matching jacket, tidy shirt and possibly a tie. Even you don’t wear the tie but you have the other things on you’ll still show them that you are there for business. For less corporate you should still make the effort to wear dress pants (not jeans, no matter what they cost, what brand they are, how good they make you look) and a well ironed shirt.
- For both guys and girls the following applies:
- Get a haircut if you need it or for girls, pull your hair back and ensure it is tidy. This is not the time to be showing off your creative new birds nest teased creation with coloured bow clips. Keep it simple.
- Shoes – make sure they are clean, if you have heels that are scuffed then buy a new pair and try to keep them for interviews or important meetings. Use your old ones to do the leg work to get you around (or even better, wear ballet flats) and pop your new ones on just before you walk in. If you can’t afford a new pair ask a friend to borrow a pair and tell them you’ll shout them a movie once you are offered a new job.
- Make up (for girls)….sorry girls but it’s a must, it really is. You don’t need much and less is always best but wearing none can make you look washed out…don’t you want to look your best?? Especially for a first meeting. Strive to be the best you can me, you want to be remembered. A bit of foundation or even a wipe of face powder, slick of lipgloss and a quick brush of blush will at least brighten you up.
- Shopping bags – don’t take them. If you must, state the point as soon as you arrive that you are very sorry you have shopping bags, it was just due to timing and circumstance that you couldn’t drop them off somewhere first etc etc.
- If it’s freezing cold outside and you are wearing a large overcoat, take it off when you arrive. Sitting in a bulky overcoat not only looks uncomfortable but chances are you will get hot and you don’t want to have to be interrupting the interview to take it off midway through.
- Rings on your fingers (excluding wedding rings of course!) keep them to a minimum eg. one or two, you don’t need one on every finger, it just looks messy. Interviewers look at your hands a lot, so on that point make sure your nails are tidy as well (e.g. no chipped nail polish).
- Earrings – keep them to one in each ear (small studs, avoid anything that jangles, dangle or is distracting for the interview).
- Piercings – take them out (YES, I MEAN IT!) Some clients are ok about them, others are not. Don’t run the risk of putting a client off in the first 30 seconds they meet you by wearing facial studs. I can’t tell you how many people I have interviewed where I ask if they would take them out and they say “of course, I’d never wear it to an interview’…It always amazes me (so an interview with an agency is not an interview??) You need to impress us too! Every single meeting you have with anyone to do with your career is your chance to build a positive and lasting first impression. Always remember that.
- It is absolutely fine to wear the same outfit to 1st and 2nd interview, do not freak out about that. No client in my entire career has ever come back to me and said “we really like the candidate however, we did notice she had the same outfit on’. Never! They only notice that you made an effort and looked smart.
One a final note, please remember that interviews are your chance to build a lasting impression on someone and the truth is a vast majority of opinions are formed about someone in the first 10 seconds…because of how you look. Before anyone goes off at me and says ‘so you have to be pretty, you have to be thin’….that is absolutely NOT the case. You have to present yourself the BEST way you can. Dress well, dress appropriately, do your hair, do your make up, iron, carry a handbag not a plastic shopping bag and smile! THEN after that comes your performance in an interview….to be discuss in our next blog.
It’s sad but I have had clients reject candidates on presentation….deemed as discrimination? Sure is…but the cold hard truth is that it happens. So don’t allow it happen to you and rise above the rest – present yourself the best you can, not just for interviews but for every single interaction you have with people…… and see how positive that can make you feel.