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The Interview Preparation Checklist

It is impossible to over prepare for a job interview. Just as a sales professional never leaves any issue of the sales presentation to chance, likewise a job seekers should never attempt to “wing” an interview. Make sure you are optimally ready for your next job interview. Research the company thoroughly and prepare for how you will answer the toughest questions.

Here’s an eleven-point checklist to help you remember.

Research the company or organization:

  1. How well do you know their industry? Trade journals and professional association websites are a great source to find up-to-date information concerning the organization’s industry. Internet search engines make this chore a breeze.
  2. Do you understand the current challenges of their industry? One of the best ways to anticipate possible interview questions is to know the typical challenges their industry is facing. Many challenges depend on their market maturity. Are they an emerging, mature or declining market?
  3. Who are their top competitors and how do they rank among them? This information is easy to find if they are a public company. Hoovers Online and are great places to start. For private companies, a simple online city directory directory lists organizations by industry type. Biz Journals Book of Lists located at most public libraries provides great company information on a local level.
  4. What are their services and/or product offerings? Most company websites provide this information.
  5. How long have they been in business and how large are they? You may be able to find this from their website. Hoovers Online is also helpful with this type of information.
  6. Prepare to answer the toughest questions:

    Have you anticipated all the possible questions related to the position? Write them out. Think them through and prepare answers using your own accomplishments as examples.

  7. Can you answer questions that begin with, “Tell me a time when …” This type of questions is called behavioral or situational. It is important to answer them with pacific examples. This is another reason you should know your accomplishments.
  8. Are you ready to answer questions with your own success stories? Think through the challenges you’ve faced in the last five years. How you over came your challenges make up your success stories.
  9. Do you know your greatest strengths and weaknesses? This is the most commonly asked question. You must be ready for it. Be sure to include how you have learned to over come your weaknesses. Make sure that your strengths are relevant to the job.
  10. Are you ready for the salary question? Don’t be caught off guard. It will come up. Very often it is asked as a screening question in the first interview. It’s best to state your answer in a range along with a disclaimer such as, “$80-90K depending on over all compensation package and benefits.”
  11. Are you typically nervous before and during an interview? If so, rehearse your most difficult questions with an interview support partner. Get comfortable talking about your successes.

Now that you are ready for your next interview, make sure your resume is in top condition as well. Without an outstanding resume you won’t get the opportunity to try out your new interview skills. If your resume isn’t generating interviews it’s a sure sign that your resume needs help.

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