You’ve sent in your resume, waited with bated breath and crossed fingers, and FINALLY the phone call has come: “Hello Mr/Ms *insert your own name here*, we would like to see you personally; When will you be able to come in for an interview?”
Yes, you’re allowed to leap with joy. But don’t get too excited! You want to make the best impression possible at the interview, and preparation for your big moment shouldn’t just stop at making hard copies of your resume and CV. We can hear you start to panic; but fear not because all you need is a comprehensive checklist. It may sound like a no-brainer, but you would be surprised at the things that can go wrong when you leave things to chance.
In the days leading up to the interview:
• Prepare a few hard copies of your resume, in case you’re interviewed by a few people. While you’ve got said resume in your hand, it won’t do you any harm to review it and pick out potential questions that could arise from it (it says here you were Head of Protocol for your event, tell us a little more about that, etc).
• Get the full address of the place you’ll be interviewing at: Even if you have a GPS, it’s a good idea to actually practice getting there. Ditto if you use public transportation, because even seasoned travellers may have off days when nerves hit. Make sure you get the building address, level, and if they specify a room, make sure you jot it down for reference on the big day. After all, nothing screams ‘Unprepared!!’ like having to call the company up to say “Er… I’ll be late, I got lost” It also helps to ascertain where you can park, etc. Use Google Maps if necessary.
• Do some background research on the company; you don’t want to accidentally describe their biggest competitor in glowing terms! Also, it helps to toss in tidbits from your Google-fest during the interview as it will tell the interviewers that you have done your research.
• If you have work samples that are relevant to the job you’re applying for, bring them along! It’s your opportunity to prove that you’re not all talk.
• Make sure to get the full name and contact details of your interviewer, or at least of the person who contacted you to set up the interview so that if you DO get into any trouble you manage to contact the right person.
• Place all your material in a folder or briefcase. Make sure your briefcase is clean and that no scraps of paper or embarrassing items lurk in there just waiting to pop out!
• Polish your shoes and get a haircut if you’re starting to look a little shaggy. For women, DON’T cut your hair just before an interview unless it’s a hairstyle you’re completely comfortable and familiar with. Feeling just the slightest bit uncomfortable about your looks could cause you to keep fidgeting with your hair, and that can be distracting to others.
• Plan your outfit the night before. A rule of thumb would be to dress a little nicer than everybody else in the office. So if the general dress code is ripped jeans, try to stick to chinos or pair a solid-coloured pair of jeans (no funky fadings or studs) with a shirt. If it’s a large corporation where everybody is in corporate wear, don’t even think about leaving off the tie.
On the day of the interview:
• Set your alarm so you can wake up early: Being late increases your stress levels and can lead to you making silly mistakes that could cost you time, or worse, the job.
• Eat a proper breakfast; the last thing you want is a growl emanating from your midsection in the middle of the interview!
• Set off early. If your chosen route has a tendency of getting jammed during peak hours, set off even earlier and have a stress-free trip.
• Check yourself before you leave, and again before you meet your interviewer: Is your hair messy? Is your tie askew? Do you have lipstick on your teeth? Bring a small pocket mirror if possible, or sneakily use someone’s car window if you have to.
So have you got your documents? Some breath mints and a spring in your step? Start your interview with a confident greeting and a firm handshake; the rest will unfold like clockwork, all thanks to your existing abilities and a little preparation beforehand.
- Lim May Lee, The Star