6-Step Checklist to a Great Interview

Job Interview Tips by Joe Turner

Do you get nervous just thinking about interviewing?

Don't feel badly, most everybody does. However, there are specific actions you can take beforehand that will not only reduce those jitters, but also increase your confidence DURING the Interview. Try this checklist of 6 important actions and notice the difference it makes after your next interview:

1. Know the 5 'Must-Answer' Questions in Every Interview: Although scores of books have been written on interviewing, listing literally hundreds of interview questions to prepare for, there are only 5 questions any company wants to ask you:

  • Why are you here?
  • What can you do for us?
  • Can you be managed (will you fit in)?
  • What makes you different (from every other candidate we've already seen)?
  • Can we afford you?

If you can successfully answer these 5 questions, there is a good chance you'll receive an offer. While the last question is about salary and won't usually enter into the conversation during the first interview, you can expect all of the other questions to come into play. Since there'll be many different ways of asking these questions, read on for step 2 and 3 below.

2. Develop Your 'Stories' Now: Forget trying to memorize scripted interview answers that you probably read somewhere. Instead, focus on answering the questions in a way that makes sense to you and that showcases your experience and skills.

Do this by developing stories around specific examples from your career where you get to tell how you?

  • Either made money or saved money for your current or previous company.
  • Faced a crisis or two in your life or job and how you responded or recovered from it.
  • Functioned as a part of a team and what your contribution was.
  • Had to deal with stress in your career.

Telling small stories like these is an excellent way to be remembered .When you stand out from the crowd you'll personalize yourself. If you can have about 5 to 7 good 'stories' of about 30 to 90 seconds each, your confidence will rise tremendously.

3. Know Your Target: Remember, one of the 5 must-answer questions is, 'Why are you here?' What this means is, 'What do you know about us?' One of the biggest complaints from hiring managers is that too often candidates seem to know little about the company they interview. This is taken as indifference, laziness or poor preparation and usually eliminates them from further consideration. Well before your interview, you should already know what products or services the company is in the business of providing, and such things as their size and annual revenues (if they are a public company). With the Internet, researching companies is a snap. Go further and develop some questions about them of your own. This is the time to not only flatter them with what you know about them, but to find out whether this is the company that you really want to work for.

4. Dress Correctly: You have enough on your mind already without having to worry about whether you look like a fish on the front doorstep. Plan ahead to wear comfortable clothing that suits this type of interview. The usual mode these days is business attire. Since that could mean different things to different companies, call ahead to the HR department and ask. You want to fit in and not feel self-conscious about your clothing choice during the interview.

5. Have Contacts and Directions: Make sure you have the name and phone number of a contact person, preferably the person you'll be meeting with. Stuff happens and when it does you'll want to keep them informed of delays that may be beyond your control. Log on to Mapquest? or Yahoo Maps? to get directions if you're not sure of their exact location. You want to arrive well in advance so you can shift gears and collect your thoughts before you walk in.

6. No Fear: Don't place undue pressure on yourself. This is just one interview. It's not 'do or die'. The last emotion you want to project is neediness or desperation because you are neither. Once you walk into the interview, your prep work has been done and you can feel confident about letting the chips fall where they may.

If you pay attention to these six steps before you walk into your next interview, you'll reap the rewards by getting closer to a job offer. The key here is that the magic of doing your best means doing all of your preparation beforehand so you can go into the interview relaxed and calm.

As a recruiter, Joe Turner has spent the past 15 years finding and placing top candidates in some of the best jobs of their career. Known on the Internet as 'the Job Search Guy', Joe has also authored 'how-to' books on interviewing and job search plus he's interviewed on several radio talk shows. Discover more insider job search secrets by visiting http://www.jobchangesecrets.com