The Essential Interview Check List: 9 Steps To Ensure You’re Prepared

You have an interview tomorrow–what should you do to ensure you’re prepared?  Other than the obvious interview preparation (researching the company etc.), here are some organizational tips that will make “interview day” go smoothly:

  1. Select your attire.
    Decide what you are going to wear at least one day before the interview.  If you have not worn something in a while, it may not look, or fit the way you remember. Maybe you bought the clothes while you were sporting the Freshman 15?  You should actually try everything on, confirm that your clothes are cleaned and pressed, and make sure you feel confident about your appearance.  Guys–make sure you have the right color socks (no lime green, please).  And don’t forget to have the shoes shined!  Remember, the first impression you make is your appearance.  Even if everyone who works there is in casual attire, you are still in the interview process and you should look like a candidate, not an employee.
  2. Organize your resume and other materials you’ll take to the interview.
    Even though you’ve submitted your resume to the company before, it is always good to have hard copies when you go to an interview.
  3. Have a plan for getting there.
    Make sure you have directions, phone numbers, and email information.  If you are driving, you should find out where to park and if you will need a permit for your car.  If you are taking public transportation, determine your route in advance.  No matter how you are getting to your meeting, make sure you know how long it will take to get there.  And don’t forget to bring a photo ID if required by the Security Desk.
  4. Arrive EARLY at your meeting.
    One thing is almost certain in this whole process: If you are late for an interview, you are probably not going to get the job.  Get there early.  Find a place to have a coffee or beverage.  Be relaxed and calm before you arrive.
  5. Show manners and respect to the person who greets you when you arrive.
    I have seen or heard this often.  Someone arrives at a company and they ASSUME that the person at the front desk is unimportant.  BIG MISTAKE!  Often, the people you meet will ask the person at the front desk how you treated them and what you did while you were waiting for the interview to start.  If the feedback is negative, it’s over.
  6. Read while you’re waiting to be interviewed.  I know the natural instinct is to pull out your phone and get busy reading your mail or sending messages. But you should resist the urge to do that. Turn off your phone when you arrive so that it won’t interrupt you during the interview.  Most companies will have some materials displayed about the organization or other reading materials–reach for that.
  7. Focus on answering questions during the interview–NEVER take notes.
    I know I am repeating myself because I sneak this into any relevant blog post, but an interview is not the time to take notes.  Listen, make eye contact, and respond.
  8. Ask each person you meet for their business card.
    You will need this for your “thank you” notes.  You can also use this information to Google the people you have met and to see if you are connected to any of them through LinkedIn.
  9. Send a “Thank You” note within 24 hours.  Make sure to personalize each note and reiterate your interest in the job, the organization and your relevant skills that qualify you for the position.

So this is your interview checklist.  Use this before each interview to organize yourself so that nothing distracts you from making your strongest presentation.


Lesley is president and founder of Priority Candidates, which prepares college students and recent graduates nationwide to get hired for their first jobs.   Previously, Lesley spent more than 25 years in executive search, working with candidates from entry level to C-Suite executives in organizations ranging in size from small, family owned businesses to large international organizations.  Her fundamental knowledge of what hiring manager’s look for is the core of what Priority Candidates does to prepare college students/recent grads to get hired now.  An alumnus of Duke University who is based in New York City, Lesley has been featured in USA Today, ABC’s New York Viewpoint with Ken Rosato, ABC News with Art McFarland, The New York Times, NY Nightly News with NBC4’s Chuck Scarborough, eCampus News and John Tucker’s Small Business Report on Bloomberg Radio.   Lesley always welcomes connections via LinkedIn, on Twitter or by email or phone, available on her website.

Related posts:

  1. Are You Prepared for These Interview Questions?
  2. Four Essential Job and Internship Resolutions for 2012
  3. More & Less: Two Essential Tips for Interviews

Leave a Reply

You can use these tags: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>

  • Dan Schawbel

    Dan Schawbel, the founder of the Student Branding Blog, is a world renowned personal branding expert, the international bestselling author of Me 2.0, as well as the publisher of the Personal Branding Blog.

  • Connect With Dan

  • Chelsea Rice

    Chelsea Rice is the editor-in-chief of the Student Branding Blog. She began her work for just before graduating from Boston University, where she studied journalism and minored in international relations.

  • Connect With Chelsea

  • Recognition

    • Recommended resource - The Washington Post
    • "A terrific way for students to learn about branding" - Lindsey Pollak
    • "Worth checking out" - Psychology Today
    • HR World's top 100 management blogs