Congratulations, you’ve been asked in for an interview!

While this is a feat in itself, given this troubling economy, your work isn’t done yet. It's important to make a great impression when you go for a job interview, and this includes remaining calm and composed. If you look flustered and nervous, you won't appear confident. Fortunately, it's simple to calm your nerves before you start a job interview. Here's an important checklist as you prepare for that next important event.

** Several days to one week before the interview **

1.Take the time do your homework on the company and the position at hand. To find company-specific information, visit your local library, run a search on the internet, or talk to current or former employees about their experiences and impressions of the company. Reach out to your current network of friends, relatives and colleagues – do they know someone who currently works with this company? If so, arrange to connect with them either by phone, email or meeting them in person for a coffee (your treat). Study up on the company's products and services, industry, target market, annual sales, geographic location(s), structure, history, officers, and any other key information. Are there any new trends in the industry?

2.Identify the organization’s major competitors and do some basic research on how they differ, either positively or negatively, from the company at which you are interviewing.

3.Prepare specific examples of how your skills and experience make you a strong fit for the organization’s needs and for this role in particular. Practice answering directed questions about your experience, education, and skills and how they relate to the position at hand. Being prepared to draw correlations between your experience and the needs of the organization is one of the most important interviewing skills you will need. If you came across this vacancy through a job posting, review it over and over again, paying special attention to the qualifications the company is seeking in their ideal candidate.

4.Identify your strengths and areas of development. Be prepared to talk about your weaknesses, but find a way to frame them positively. For example, “My biggest weakness is that I am a perfectionist. It may take me a little extra time to get a project done to my satisfaction, but you can be guaranteed that the work will pass even the most stringent review, be 100% accurate, and that no detail will be overlooked.”

5.Prepare several intelligent questions about the company and position that will demonstrate your knowledge of the company and your sincere interest in the position. Remember, you are interviewing them as much as they are interviewing you!

6.Have a dress rehearsal! Try on your interview suit to make sure that it is still well-fitting and in good repair. If necessary, make arrangements to have it altered or dry-cleaned, otherwise, find alternate dress.

** The day before the interview **

1.Contact the company to confirm the date and time of your interview. Also confirm the name and title of the individual(s) you will be meeting.

2.Get directions to the interview site, if you haven’t done so already. Be sure to double check the directions using a tool like Google Maps. This will ensure that you know the way and also give you an approximate travel time – don’t forget to allow for extra time for rush hour!

3.Lay out your entire interview outfit. Check it for any spot, wrinkles, or snags.

4.Print off a few extra copies of your résumé and cover letter on nice paper. Even if the interviewer has a copy of their own, it’s always a good idea to have a backup copy. This is also helpful if you end up interviewing with multiple individuals, since the head interviewer may be the only person with a copy of your résumé.

** Get a good night’s sleep! **

1.Your brain needs fuel to run at peak performance and if there is ever a day you needed 100% from your brain, it’s today. So don’t skimp on meals. Be cautious about eating large amounts of carbohydrates right before your interview though, since carbs are known to cause sluggishness and may lead to post-meal lethargy.

2.Get dressed early so you do not feel pressured to dash out the door. Pay attention to the details (brush off any lint, comb your hair, brush your teeth, check your make-up, use deodorant, etc.) and remember that a first impression can reveal a lot about you and your character.

3.Don’t forget to take copies of your résumé, your cover letter, and your portfolio if you have one.

4.Leave yourself plenty of time to get to your interview. If you arrive more than 15 minutes early, it’s best to wait in the car or outside the building. Arriving too early gives off the impression that you have a lot riding on the interview (and have nothing better to do with your time), and also pressures the interviewer(s) into feeling that they have to adjust their schedule to accommodate you.

5.Look your interviewer(s) in the eyes and smile, shaking everyone’s hand when you are meeting for the first time. You should also smile and shake hands when the interview concludes.

6.Relax! If you have done your homework, you are well-prepared for the interview. Take a deep breath and spend a moment collecting your thoughts if you need to when being asked a question. If confused about a particular question you are asked, don’t hesitate to ask for clarification. It is acceptable for you to have a copy of your résumé in front of you during your interview to help jog your memory of your work experiences.

** After the interview **

Immediately when you get home, write a quick “Thank You” note on nice quality card stock and mail it to the individual(s) who interviewed you. Mail it that night.

In Bliss,
Sandy Kiaizadeh
Find Your Bliss Coaching

Author's Bio: 

Sandy Kiaizadeh, B.Comm, ATC, is the founder of Find Your Bliss Coaching, a professional coaching business committed to empowering women around the world to reach their fullest potential and live the lives they’ve dreamed of. Sandy completed her coach training at Adler International Learning, in association with the University of Toronto/OISE. She is a member of the International Coach Federation, the Human Resources Professional Association, as well as Career Professionals of Canada. Sandy also writes for Bliss Bulletin, a free monthly e-zine for the busy professional. This newsletter offers insider secrets and free professional coaching resources designed to help you achieve a more balanced and blissful life. Visit today!