How to prepare for a job interview

Gale Brown Sandler, Griffin Resume Service :::

You’ve gotten a good professional resume done and now you are ready for that wonderful phone call inviting you to an interview.  What should you do to be prepared?

It is common for job seekers to have some anxiety during a job interview.  One way to overcome that is to carry something with you to talk about.  Once you start talking about something other than yourself, your anxiety will diminish.

Some interviewers are visual learners and like to see examples of your work.  These examples can reinforce to the interviewer that you can handle the job.  It would be a good idea to organize your materials in advance in a three-ring binder using inserts with tabs.  Print out a “Table of Contents” page and mark it Career Portfolio of (your name). Put that in the beginning of the notebook so you can quickly find any page in the binder.

You might start out with a section that contains promotional materials including your resume and business card and a marketing plan if you’ve done one.  The next tab can be examples of your work, including reports, analyses, graphs, photos of your work, drawings, spreadsheet models, customer surveys and a complete list of accomplishments throughout your work history.

The third section could be about education and certifications including professional courses you’ve taken, seminars attended, workshops attended or led, diplomas, certifications, degrees, transcripts, licenses or publications.

The fourth section should be about your performance and/or recommendations.  It can include a reference list, any performance reviews you’ve gotten, letters of recommendations, assessments, aptitude test results and even a background check report, if available.

The fifth and last section could include any other information like volunteer and community service, military service records, discharge papers, employment contracts and/or news clippings about any of your accomplishments that ended up in print.

Now that you’ve got your binder ready to take with you, let’s talk about some of the points you should be prepared to answer during the interview.  The first one is “Why should I hire you?”  Make a list of at least three accomplishments for each position you have held along with a brief list of major responsibilities.  Think of a couple of examples of your accomplishments that you can refer to.  Know the numbers if you were in sales or if you decreased costs or increased efficiencies.

Be prepared for the dreaded: “Tell me about yourself.”  Plan your answer in advance and memorize and practice what you are going to say to be prepared.  In order to answer this question with a goal in mind of getting hired, you might say something like, “In order to provide you with relevant experiences, can you describe for me in detail the responsibilities of this position?  Make notes while he is talking and make it your goal to find out what the interviewer is looking for before you tell him about yourself.  When you are talking about yourself, be specific!  Do a “trial-close” by asking, “Did this make sense to you?  Is this what you are looking for?  Did I answer your question?”

What is the interviewer looking for?  Enthusiasm, competence, personality, professionalism and trust that you understand the company’s goals and can fulfill the responsibility of the position.  In order to show enthusiasm, you must research the company, their industry and have knowledge of their products and/or services.  Utilize their website to be prepared .

Good listening skills are key to receiving an offer.  Here are five keys to effective listening:  1. Face the interviewer, lean forward and listen attentively without interruption.   2. Pause before replying or continuing and answer thoughtfully.  3. Question to make sure you understand.  Ask, “How do you mean?”  4. Relax, stay calm and focus your attention on how you can help this person get something that he or she needs.  5. Use close-ended questions to help the interviewer give a firm answer: “Did I answer your question?”

Be prepared, review your material and do your homework about the company.  Good luck on your interview.

To contact Gale, email


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