Interview Checklist: Tips to a Strong First Impression

Interview Checklist

Congratulations! You’ve made it past the application process, your resume impressed the recruiters and hiring managers, you have successfully navigated the dreaded phone interview. And now, the final hurdle – the in-person interview. You’re one step closer to landing your dream job and the only thing between you and a job offer is the interview. Being on the job hunt can be nerve-wracking, and it goes without saying that you want to make the best first impression on potential employers.

You’re one step closer to landing your dream job and the only thing between you and a job offer is the interview.

It only takes 7 seconds to make a first impression, so use those 7 seconds to impress the interview panel by doing your homework and putting your best (most prepared) self forward.

Anticipating an interview call? Know someone who’s on the job hunt? Here are 7 fail-safe tips for a successful interview from our candidate checklist:

1. Do Your Homework. Thought you left homework behind in college? Think again. Do some research—know what the organization (and industry) does and where it’s going, read the job description in detail and have a clear understanding of how this role fits into the organization’s strategy. By doing your homework, you’re showing your interest in the position and company, and impressing your prospective future employer with your knowledge of industry trends.

2. Self-Assess: Reflect on your skills, strengths and weaknesses, while identifying links between the job description and your experience. In the interview, highlight how your skills and experiences match the organization’s needs and how your values and goals connect with those of the organization. Ask yourself “Why do you want this job?” and come up with a genuine answer that shows you’re interested in more then just a paycheck. Pro tip: The answer “Because it’s close to my house” never goes over well!

3. Practice & Prepare: There is no such thing as being over-prepared. Consider the questions you might be asked, based on the job description and the research you’ve done about the organization. Think of how you would answer behavioural, job-related or knowledge-based questions about the organization, then be prepared to provide concrete examples from your self-assessment and research. Read through your notes one last time before the interview, and get a good night’s sleep.

4. Dress for the Job: Prepare your outfit in advance. Avoid distracting colours, patterns or styles. You want the interviewer to focus on your answers, not on what you’re wearing. For all genders, a safe bet is generally business professional in conservative and neutral or dark colours. That said, what you wear on interview day should reflect typical attire for the industry. If you’re not sure, and you have a couple of days to plan, do a walk-by of the organization and make note of what other employees are wearing.

5. Plan: Avoid feeling rushed before your interview. Determine your travel time and review directions to the interview location. Arrive early, but not too early. Between 5 to 10 minutes is perfect. More than that and the wait time can get awkward for everyone.

6. Present yourself professionally: Make sure your phone is turned off, not just on silent; you don’t want it buzzing away in a quiet interview room or office. Toss your gum and avoid smelling like smoke or other strong fragrances, which can be distracting to the interviewer. Don’t forget to print off a copy of your application and references, and place them in a nice folder to keep them from ripping or folding.

7. Listen & Ask Questions: Pay attention to what the interviewer is saying, think about the question and respond according to your self-assessment and research. Don’t answer without thinking, go off topic or on a rant, and stick to the facts about your skills, experience and knowledge. Show up prepared with questions specific to the organization, position or employee culture, and avoid asking questions already answered in the job description or job posting, as you don’t want them to think you didn’t read it.

Your Engaged Assignment: Are you a rock star job seeker that lands job offers after every interview? If not, try taking more time to prepare for interviews and use our candidate checklist to increase the chances of a successful outcome.