Job Interview Preparation Checklist

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Here's a job interview preparation checklist so that you can ace your interview. I teach you how to prepare for a phone interview or in-person interview in a smart, efficient, and effective way. Use these interview tips and tricks to feel confident during your interview.

Now that you’ve built momentum with the interview prep, you’re ready to dive into the specifics. Let’s do this! 

This is part 2 of how to best prepare for a job interview. If you hadn’t had a chance to watch part 1, I encourage you to do that after reading this blog post so that you can take the preliminary steps of your interview prep. 

What’re we doing today?

Well, we’re trying to prepare for a daunting interview in a smart and effective way.

Interviews can be scary and sometimes we built them up into more than they’re meant to be. We treat them as high stakes, as our one chance to greatness, and get ourselves so psyched out…which tends to create more tension around it than necessary. 

So before we dive into the strategies, let’s just take a quick moment to breathe. 

Alright.

In this video we’re discussing ways to prepare for the interview after you’ve done some of the work already. And that “Work” is based on the 5 steps I walked you through in Part 1. 

The strategies in this blog post will be helpful when getting ready for the interview but will also come in handy during the interview itself. 

If you ever feel like it’s not going the way you had hoped, then reflect back on these strategies to salvage and recover from an aspect of the interview that’s maybe not going so well.

Let’s jump right into it.

Here are strategies you can easily put in place so that you are well-positioned to do well on an interview.

Internalize the JD

Take a closer look at the job description and internalize it. You should know the primary secondary skills. And take it a step further and decide on what the tertiary skills are. It is very important to know the tertiary skills because you’ll mention those in the “tell me your weaknesses” question. 

Bottom line: you are educating yourself about the role. You’re also extrapolating from it to read between the lines to understand the non-vitals of the position. Familiarity with the job will allow you to frame your answers accordingly.

Consider preparing your points with clarity

Prepare enough anecdotes to substantiate claims and anything on your resume. Remember, whatever is listed on your resume is fair game. So make sure you know what’s on there! You’ve heard me saying that anecdotes are interview ammo video. 

For each primary skill that’s listed, you should be able to illustrate 2 stories or anecdotes. You won’t necessarily need 2 but it’ll make sure you’re well prepared. 

Slow it down. Don’t talk a mile a minute. Be sure to enunciate, speak slowly, and think before you speak.

Add pauses in your speech. If you are about to use a filler word or discourse marker such as um, like, uh, which do not sound professional or confident, use a pause in it’s stead. The other great thing about pausing is that you give the listener an opportunity to digest the information you’ve recently given them. 

Bottom line: you have a game plan to bring clarity to your interview. We have clarity in what you say by having clear stories to paint the picture and back up your XP (experience points). And we have clarity in how you say it by taking time to speak slowly, clearly and with pauses.

Mise-en-scene with your non verbals

Be aware of non-verbals. Maybe you’re scratching your head thinking “but do I really need to plan my nonverbals.” The short answer is Yes, you do. 

Why? Because planning it out gets it on your radar. It provides you with a roadmap to follow. 

Trying to think of nonverbals on the spot, in a stress-inducing social setting (i.e. the interview) will not bode well. It won’t happen.

So you have to build awareness around the nonverbals you’ll be paying attention to.

Actors do this when they’re prepping for their role. It’s part of their mise en scene. They rehearse their roles with the gestures, movement, and nonverbals in mind. 

And guess what Explearners this is important for you as well.

We have a few things to keep in mind. For some of you they might be pain points, but that’s ok because you’re here to surmount those communication challenges, right.

Let’s have a closer look at these paralinguistic features:

Eye contact. Make sure you are looking the interviewer in the eye. Not in a sketchy way, of course, but looking into someone’s eyes establishes a human connection. Do it. What you want to avoid, however, are eye rolls and thinking eyes (a gaze that’s glued to the ceiling, or the ground for that matter). If you need to think you can blink a bit, but don’t overdo that either. 

Be sure to demonstrate good posture and no slouching in the chair. If you are in a swivel chair refrain from spinning, as tempting as it may be! When you greet and leave the interviewer showcase your firm handshake. That exudes confidence and credibility. 

With hand placement you want to be relaxed. Don’t tense up, move your hands with ease and not too much. Avoid fidgeting (touching your hair your blazer, tugging at your clothing, fixing your outfit, pulling up your shirt, twirling your hair) because fidgeting is distracting. And do not cross your arms! That is a sign of insecurity and vulnerability, so keep an open stance instead. 

Bottom line: being attuned to your nonverbals works because it sends the message of confidence even when you’re not saying anything. Your gestures and body language show that you are poised, confident, and calm. Building these gestures into your prep time gets them on your radar so that you can easily remind yourself in the interview to pay attention to nonverbals. 

Dress for the part

Dress in a way that is professional but also that reflects both your style and personality. Of course this should be done within the parameters of the industry (fashion, tech, corporate, etc.) so you may need to do some research as to the company’s dress code or what people in the industry tend to wear. Don’t aim to be a cookie-cutter image, but respect that there might be an expected way of dressing. If not, then let your unicorn flag fly! Just be as authentic as you would like, in that case.

As the saying goes, dress for the job you want, not the one you have. This may be something you consider as you get ready for you interview. 

Either way, you’ll want to wear something you feel comfortable and confident in. Comfort’s important so you’re not tempted to tug at your outfit, which would be distracting to you and the hiring manager. For those who wear makeup out there: go light and don’t over accessorize. After the interview goes well and you’re hired, do all the bracelet-stacking your heart desires (if it’s appropriate in that work culture). But in the actual interview, it’s better to refrain from anything overly distracting (that goes for jewelry and accessories). Remember you want the hiring manager to have full concentration!

Bottom line: dress appropriately for the job and the industry with your own personal flare so that they can see your personality and authenticity

Demonstrate active listening

Similar to nonverbals on your radar, you want to build active listening into your prep so that you remember to do it. This is important because (1) it enables you to truly hear the question and what is being asked of you and (2) it facilitates rapport building with the hiring manager.

Use discourse markers signaling agreement, understanding (i.e., mmm hmm, right, yes, etc.). You can also do paraphrasing, which is a great reflecting technique. 

Another way to show you are listening is to interject with an appropriate question. Timing is very important here. And make sure that the question is relevant to the job description, your XP, or skills. This could even be a question that you had planned to save for the end. But if the opportunity arises and the moment seems perfect, then interject-away!

We can also show active listening through our nonverbals. The triple-nod is a great way of getting the hiring manager to elaborate. Studies show that is the listener gives the speaker a triple nod, they’ll speak three to four times more than if you hadn’t nodded three times. Fascinating, right?

Leaning in and making eye contact are two more professional ways of engaging the speaker. It shows you are on the same page as they and that you are paying attention. 

Bottom line: active listening is a great way to build rapport with the hiring manager, and give off an overall positive vibe; it’ll leave a good impression of you on their mind.

Prep thoughtful well-researched questions

Formulate thoughtful questions ahead of time showing you put time and energy and research into it. 

I have another blog post about this specifically, but I encourage you to get the ball rolling with this, try your best and I’ll help you out with some strategies in another lesson.

Bottom line: Prepping good questions shows you care about working there; shows that you are looking to scope out the best possible opportunities in other words you’re not desperate and you’re shopping around for the best just as they are.

Send a thank you note (following up)

In this followup thank you email, you want to touch upon a few things. Thank them for time, of course! 

Add insightful comments from your interview. So, it would be helpful to take a few notes in the interview so that you can flavor your email with a few points. Otherwise, right after the interview jot down some things you remember, which you’ll be able to include in the thank you note.

Point to something from the interview that will make you memorable. This is your time to be authentic, not generic. Maybe you cracked a funny joke that got the hiring manager laughing. Maybe you revealed a great social media strategy that the hiring manager seemed really intrigued by. Find something that will jog their memory about chatting with you. 

Remember, the hiring manager sees so many people for multiple roles. Leave a positive impression in the interview and then refer to it in the email so you remain top of mind! Stand out in a good way.

Show your enthusiasm and remind them how you can add value. This is a good place to spell it out for them. Maybe you have a idea on how they can better differentiate themselves in the competitive space, maybe you can add value with a brand-new cutting-edge product. Tell them!\

Note: check out my other blog post and accompanying video about this for more details.

Bottom line: sending a thank you note shows you have proper etiquette, you’re enthusiastic about the position and committed to adding value 

Let’s quickly recap before we go.

Today we solved the issue of optimizing our prep time for an interview in a more detail-oriented way – we’re not just focused on our answers, but also our body language, image we’re projecting, and listening attentively.

Practice these 7 strategies in addition to the 5 preliminary steps in Part 1 to get you into tip top shape. As always, make them your own and add them to your Explearning Communication toolkit for optimal results.

You’ll find that preparing in this way (with both Part 1 and 2) will also keep them fresh in your mind so that you can always think of them mid-interview and check yourselves to ensure you’re putting our best foot forward. 😊 

Happy Explearning 🐝