"The secret to a successful interview is being prepared," says Michelle, a recruiter with a top New York City employment agency. No matter how experienced we may be at interviewing, this checklist will help review important points to remember.
______ Make sure your resume is polished, current and focused on that particular company's need.
______ Have a current list of references that includes those who can present you, your accomplishments and your career potential in the best light.
______ Research the company and executives with whom you'll meet.
______ Use your research to prepare intelligent comments and questions about the company.
______ Market yourself by using past career experiences.
______ Anticipate questions you will be asked and prepare answers.
______ Know how you plan to fill gaps in knowledge and skills, should they ask.
______ Be ready to explain how your professional network can benefit the position.
______ Have answers to how your long-term goals will fit within their company.
______ Be able to support your ability to adapt to change with professional examples.
______ Wear a conservative, professional outfit that's appropriate to the position for which you are applying. No trendy, skin-revealing, bright outfits with noisy costume jewelry and stay away from severe black.
______ Practice. Practice. Practice! Rehearse your questions and responses in front of a mirror.
______ Investigate the interview location and the best route to get you there on time.
______ Get a good night's sleep.
______ Have a light breakfast.
______ Do not wear strong perfume or heavy make-up.
______ Stash an extra pair of hose in your purse (just in case).
______ Leave a bit early so you will arrive unstressed and on time.
______ Arrive on time! (This can't be emphasized enough.)
______ Turn off your cell phone.
______ Don't chew gum.
______ Be courteous to the secretary or receptionist. This is the unofficial part of an interview.
______ Present a confident handshake that includes a smile and eye contact.
______ Have a professional looking folder for copies of resumes and recommendation letters to give an appearance of being well organized.
______ Maintain eye contact during the interview. Don't avert your eyes or look down.
______ Listen carefully in order to give appropriate responses.
______ Avoid discussion of your personal life. Keep the discussion professional.
______ Be honest.
______ Show an interest in and knowledge of the company with the comments and questions you present.
______ Stay focused on discussion of the company and topics relevant to the position.
______ Don't talk too much – or too little.
______ Avoid using excessive hand gestures when speaking.
______ Use professional language with good grammar, avoiding slang.
______ Find the right balance of being enthusiastic and positive, while still remaining professional.
______ Speak slowly and enunciate. Fast speakers appear to be nervous.
______ Don't fidget or play with items like a pen or eyeglasses.
______ Be careful of appearing cocky, arrogant or over-confident.
______ Taking notes gives a good impression, but be sure to maintain eye contact and not stare at the note pad.
______ Tactfully veer away from negative issues of the past. Keep it positive.
______ Never bad-mouth past employers or co-workers.
______ Don't appear anxious to hear about salary and perks. These are topics for a subsequent interview.
______ Be sure to emphasize any foreign language skills you might have.
______ Remember to close with a handshake, smile, and positive comment about how you look forward to meeting again to learn more about the company.
______ Immediately follow-up with a written note thanking the interviewer and briefly summarizing why you're the best "man" for the job.
______ Assess your interview performance by reviewing this checklist in order to make adjustments for the next interview.
Remember, when you go out on an interview, you are merchandising the most important product in the world – YOU. Don't miss a trick in selling yourself in the best way possible. Experts say 93% of communication is non-verbal, so it's not just what you say that's important, but how you present yourself, as well. Even one little slip-up can cost you that position you so much want. Do your homework and be prepared…and you'll come out the winner.
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