Making a List and Checking it Twice

Written By: Carole Martin

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Some people are more organized than others, but it never hurts to have a checklist to make sure you’re prepared for your upcoming interview.

Preparation for the interview
  1. Read the job posting over several times – read between the lines – what will it take to do this job? Personality traits, skills, knowledge and experience?
  2. Take a piece of paper and write, “What they are looking for.” Compare that against your qualifications – “What you have to offer.”
  3. Research the company, and the industry, and the competition.
  4. Prepare a “personal statement” summarizing what you have to offer. This information can be used to answer open-ended questions like “Tell me about yourself”
  5. Write at least five success stories to answer behavioral interview questions. (“Tell me about a time when…,” or “Can you give me an example of a time….”)
  6. Answers to the 10 most common interview questions
    Tell me about yourself.
    Why did you leave/are you leaving your last position?
    What do you know about this company?
    What are your goals?
    What are your strengths/weaknesses?
    Why do you want to work for this company?
    What has been your most significant achievement?
    How would your last boss/colleagues describe you?
    Why should we hire you?
    What is your salary expectation?
  7. Make a list of 5-10 questions to ask the interviewer about the job; the company; the industry.
  8. Research salary data – know your worth and the “going” rate for your position.
  9. Know your salary needs, based on your living expenses – your bottom line.
  10. Get permission from your references to use their names.

Before you leave for the interview
  1. Appearance – check yourself in the mirror – if you feel good about yourself and the way you look, others will return that feeling.
  2. Items to carry to the interview
    Several copies of your resume
    Copy of your references
    Pad of paper to take notes (notes are optional)
    Directions/map to the interview site
Upon Arrival
  1. Arrive early so that you are on time. Don’t enter the building until 10-15 minutes before your appointment. (Don’t appear overly anxious.)
  2. Review your preparation stories and answers.
  3. Go to the restroom and check your appearance one last time.
  4. Cool your hands down – run cold water on the insides of your wrists
  5. Greet the receptionist in a professional manner – don’t underestimate the importance of anyone you come in contact with – always be courteous
  6. Stand and greet your interviewer with a confident handshake.
  7. Smile and look into the interviewer’s eyes – note the color of his or her eyes.
During the Interview
  1. Try to focus on the points you have prepared without being rehearsed or stiff.
  2. Relax and enjoy the conversation. Learn what you can about the company.
  3. Ask questions and listen - read between the lines.
  4. Ask if there is any additional information needed to prove that you are the right person for the job.
  5. Thank the interviewer and find out what the next step in the process will be.
  6. Ask for the interviewer’s card (to send the follow up letter).
After the Interview
  1. As soon as possible, write down what you are thinking and feeling.
  2. Later in the day, look at what you wrote and assess how you did.
  3. Write a follow up/thank you letter. Remind the interviewer of your qualities.
This checklist will aid you in feeling prepared and ready. This feeling will boost your confidence and you will be able to be more relaxed and make a positive impression.


Carole Martin is a thoroughbred interview coach. Celebrated author, trainer, and mentor, Carole can give you interviewing tips like no one else can.  Her workbook, "Interview Fitness Training - A Workout With the Interview Coach," has sold thousands of copies world-wide. "Boost Your Interview IQ" has been awarded one of the 10 best career books for 2004. Her most recent book, "Perfect Phrases for the Perfect Interview" and the others mentioned are all available at and

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