You GOT THE interview – now what?!

You did it! Your resume worked and you have been invited for an interview – congratulations! You have made a great first impression on paper and now you have an opportunity to make a great first impression in person. Many of the people I meet and talk to about their job search skills tell me that interviews are the easiest part of the job search process and that if they can just get an interview they can get a job. I would agree that getting to the interview is half the battle but that it is your performance in the interview that will ultimately determine whether or not you get the job. Before you even get to the interview there are a few things you will want to take into consideration.

Have you ever been greeted by a crude or unprofessional answering machine message or had someone answer the phone with a gruff “what”? Your interview starts the minute either you or your answering machine picks up and so as a job seeker you should always be ready for the person calling to be a potential employer who wants to invite you for an interview. Express your enthusiasm and interest in a genuine and professional manner. Try to be as accommodating as possible when it comes to scheduling the interview. Interviewers are often trying to coordinate multiple schedules and have set specific time aside in their schedules for the purpose of conducting interviews. If you are currently employed and looking for another position let the person calling know that and ask them if they can schedule something near the start or end of your current work shift. It will show that you respect your current employer while still wanting to accommodate their schedule. If you aren’t working you should demonstrate more flexibility in your availability for an interview unless of course you are already scheduled for a number of interviews. You may not want to let the caller know that you have other interviews scheduled.

The person calling you may or may not be the person that you will be interviewing with. Either way you should be professional, friendly, and respectful. Following are some key pieces of information you will want to discuss before you hang up the phone to do the “I got an interview happy dance”:

  • The position title and organization (so you are clear about the position you will be interviewing for and can prepare accordingly)
  • The date, time, and location of the interview (so you can address any potential scheduling conflicts immediately rather than having to call back)
  • The number of interviewers (so you can bring enough copies of your resume and references for everyone)
  • The interview format (so you can be prepared and not caught off guard – a one on one informal interview is quite different from a formal interview with a panel of 5 interviewers)
  • The expected length of the interview (so you can schedule other interviews / appointments accordingly and not have to worry about being late for another commitment)
  • The components of the interview (so you know if you will be expected to take a test, make a presentation, etc)
  • The dress code of the organization or department (so you can dress appropriately for the interview)
  • Driving / parking instructions (so you can give yourself enough time to get there and be in the front door with at least 10 minutes to spare)
  • Supporting documentation (so you can bring any additional information that may be needed to your interview such as proof of education / training, work samples, etc)

Once your interview is scheduled you can breathe a short sigh of relief and then get busy with your preparation for the main event! Some things you will want to do in preparation for your upcoming interview are the following:

  • Review the resume and cover letter that you sent for the position you will be interviewing for – it can be helpful to save each resume you send by position title / organization for easy identification
  • Contact your references to let them know you have been invited for an interview and confirm they are still willing / able to provide you with a reference – you may want to forward them a copy of the job posting so they have an idea of the position you have applied for
  • Clear your schedule prior to the interview so you have time to get ready and get there with time to spare – you may want to do a practice commute to the interview location so you know exactly where it is and how long it will take to get there
  • Choose your interview outfit – make sure your clothes are clean, pressed, and in good repair and that your accessories are tasteful and appropriate for the position / organization
  • Anticipate the types of questions you will be asked based on the position and the organization and then prepare and practice your responses – be sure that you can speak confidently about the details on your resume, the specifics of your skills, experience, and education, and your interest in and knowledge of the position you are applying for
  • Do your research – this is the time, if you haven’t already, to do your research about the organization you will be interviewing with; websites, newspaper articles, reports, and people working for or who have knowledge of the organization are excellent resources
  • Prepare a list of questions you would like to ask your interviewer(s) at the end of your interview – be sure to write them down and bring them along; the focus of these questions should NOT be on wages / salary, benefits, vacation, etc
  • Identify your accomplishments and achievements related to the position you are interviewing for (visit for tips and tricks regarding accomplishment statements) – the more of these stories you have ready the more prepared you will be to answer the behavioral based interview questions you will undoubtedly be asked
  • Think about what you want and need from the position and the organization and also what you bring to the table – knowing what your “must-haves” and “walk-aways” are will help you to evaluate your fit for the position and the organization

For a FREE 30 minute resume review / consultation please feel free to contact Paula directly at or 780.589.2245.