Is there anyone out there that really, I mean like REALLY, loves the interview process? Feeling the pressure to make a good impression, struggling to effectively communicate your skills… getting stuck on a five-minute-long tangent about your cat and you’re left saying, “Anyway, where were we?” The good news is you’re not alone in dealing with these interview stumbling blocks. So I’ve put together an interviewing checklist that you can favorite, save, print, whatever method works for you to keep around for your next interview.
Okay so here we go:
Have your resume printed out and in front of you. Printed? What year is this 1995? But you have to trust me on this. For online interviews, if you have your resume up on a separate screen your eyes tend to wander and your interviewer may start thinking you’re off checking your Hinge matches. For in-person interviews, it’s great to have in front of you as a reference because anxious interview you and regular you don’t necessarily have the same memory of your work history.
Research the company and the people interviewing you. Want to have an engaging conversation and ask questions that actually lead somewhere? You have to do your research. Keep it company and work centered of course. “So I saw your great aunt moved to Boca Raton, I went on vacation there once” is spooky. Don’t do that.
Have a pen and paper out to take notes. You’re probably thinking that you already have your computer open, the obvious move would be to type your notes, right? Good ole pen and paper makes you look more focused and allows you to very quickly jot down notes, ideas, thoughts or questions that come up while the interviewer is talking. It’s a quick reference so you don’t feel the need to interrupt. If you're online, mention to the interviewer that you may be looking down from time to time to take notes.
If it's an online interview, please make sure your room is clean. Or else we’re telling your mom. Make sure that your room is well-lit, private and free of outside sounds and distractions. If you’re interviewing on a laptop, consider propping it up with books to make the camera closer to eye level. No one wants an under-chin shot, guaranteed.
Make sure your equipment is working properly ahead of the interview. Wipe your camera and please make sure your microphone is working and clear. Do a test call with a friend if you need to. And if you’re stealing your neighbor’s spotty wifi, consider moving to a location with a more secure connection.
Dress business professional. Yes, this includes online interviews. Save the Hawaiian shirt for a later date. You only get one first impression, and, honestly, clothes can help you get into a better mindset. “I’ve got on my business pants, it’s time for business.”
If you have specific questions or talking points, write them out in a way that’s easy to read. Maybe for you, this means sticky notes behind the monitor or a bulleted list. Bonus points if you prioritize your points so you’re not reading through them all while everyone sits in silence. Awkward.
Look into SBI (Situation-Behavior-Impact) and STAR (Situation-Task-Action-Result) methods before the interview. No one knows you better than you, but you have to make sure that when you’re talking about your achievements and work history it’s easy to pick up what you’re laying down. Use practice questions to help come up with specific problem/solution examples you can reference when the interviewer inevitably asks “So tell me about a time you were faced with a challenging situation” and you’re not left saying, “honestly right now, dude.”
See interviews aren’t that scary…. Well maybe slightly less scary if you’re prepared. Following this checklist will at least have you looking and feeling more professional. While interviewing can be challenging, don't forget it's also an opportunity for growth and learning. (Ew gross, that sounds like such an adult thing to say) But by acknowledging and preparing for the worst parts, you can hopefully navigate them with a little more ease.