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Job Interview Checklist: How to Be Prepared

If you are looking for a job, you might be wondering what you can do to prepare and to increase your chances of actually getting the job once you get that callback. It’s completely normal to feel anxious or nervous before an interview simply because you aren’t fully sure what to expect (even if this isn’t your first job), but the good news is that there are steps you can take to be more prepared, feel more confident, and make a better impression.

To help you get organized before your big day, here is a job interview checklist to help you out.

job interview candidates

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1. Research the Company

The first item on your job interview checklist should be researching the company where you will be interviewing. Learn as much as you can about the company, such as their history, key customer base, mission and vision statements, and community involvement. If the company is smaller, they may even have an “About Us” page with profiles of their employees, which is great to review for getting a better sense of the company culture and types of positions within the organization.

By having researched the company and what they are all about, you will be able to tie your interview responses back to your understanding of the company and better explain how you think you are a good fit, a recipe for excellent and compelling interview responses (more on that topic below)!

Another important aspect of researching the company is to find out if you know someone who already works there, or even know someone who knows someone who works there, and schedule a time to speak with them.

Let them know you’ve applied for a position there, and ask them questions as to what it’s like to work there, and for any advice they can offer for the interview. If the person is a personal contact of yours, they may even be able to pass along a positive reference for you, which can potentially increase your chances of getting the job (employers often love internal referrals).

Also read: Staying Focused When Working from Home

2. Understand Key Job Duties

An important second step in your job interview checklist should be to go back and re-read the job duties and description within the job posting you applied for. While a job posting won’t offer a completely holistic picture of everything involved in a job position, understanding the basic duties as listed on the posting will help you know what sort of questions your potential employer might ask in your interview, and also what sorts of skills and competencies you should be sure to highlight in your interview responses.

3. Draft Interview Responses

One of the most common questions asked in a job interview is “Why do you want this job?” so it could be to your benefit to come up with a good response to this question in advance. When drafting your response to this question, try using the research you did about the company (in step one of this checklist) to give specific reasons why this position and company would be a good mutual fit.

It’s also a good idea to draft a list of potential situational interview responses to demonstrate your skills and competencies. By having a good list of five to ten real-life examples ready, this will help you be better prepared for when an interviewer asks you questions about your experience (which they are likely to do). You can draft a solid interview response in a few steps:

  • Review the skills and experience highlighted on your resume
  • Link those skills and experiences to the job duties from the job posting (which you reviewed in step two), as these are topics that the interviewer will likely focus on in their questions
  • Turn those skills and experiences into stories you can highlight in the interview, using a situation -> action -> response model

For instance, if one of the major job duties entails resolving challenging customer service issues, it’s likely at some point in your interview that you will be asked to describe a time when you dealt with a difficult customer.

In this case, you should review your resume and look for a role or experience you’ve had that involved customer service. Then, try to think of one or two specific examples of an issue you faced with a difficult customer, the action you took to address that issue, and what the end result was.

4. Plan What You Will Wear

Part of knowing what will be appropriate to wear for a job interview is getting a sense for the company culture, which hopefully you were able to do when you researched the company during step one of this job interview checklist.

A good rule of thumb is to dress no less casually than what employees are expected to wear to work. If the company is very professional and traditional (i.e., suit and tie), then you will likely want to dress accordingly. If the company is on the business casual side, then perhaps a tie won’t be necessary.

By dressing similar to what you would wear on a daily basis on the job, you will help your potential employer envision you within that position, which can help them assess you as a cultural fit for the job and company.

Also read: 5 Ways to Maximize Your Investment in College

5. Send a Thank-You Email After the Interview

Your final item on your job interview checklist should be to send a thank-you e-mail to your interviewer after the interview – a good personal touch that can help you stand out from the other applicants.

In your e-mail, you can reiterate that you are very much interested in the position, and then consider listing a few key points that stood out to you in the interview. Because employers can screen and interview many candidates for an open position, anything you can do to help them remember who you are and why you are a good fit can help increase your chances of getting a job!

Hopefully this job interview checklist will help you feel more confident and prepared for your big interview. If you have additional advice for others you would like to share, we’d love to hear from you below in the comments!

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The Author

Dave Harriman

Dave Harriman

Dave Harriman, SHRM-CP, has a background in human resources, anthropology, and international education. His experience teaching English abroad during a gap year as an undergraduate student in Spain ignited his passion and advocacy for student travel. As a human resources professional, Dave is interested in helping students prepare for future career growth, and for helping facilitate social & cultural inclusion in the workplace.

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