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Job interview checklist, what are you forgetting?

checklist for interview

job interview checklist

Your most basic job interview checklist.  If you don’t cover this, you might as well stay home.

Your checklist for interviews is basic stuff, but as a reminder, I post it again because, every day, I see candidates blow the simple stuff. These candidates end the interview process early because of the basics. I used to think it was due to inexperience, but I see experienced candidates miss the basics just as often. This stuff is important, and I can not stress it enough.  Again, This stuff is IMPORTANT!  My radar goes off when candidates miss the basics, the obvious, and the expected. 

There is nothing worse than when a candidate’s cell phone rings in the middle of an interview. Just as bad is when a candidate shows up late. Each minute a candidate is late, I am wondering if I got the schedule wrong, and by the 5th minute when the candidate hasn’t shown up, these minutes are dog minutes. Each minute lasts 7x as long in my mind. If you didn’t call or text to give me a heads-up, you might as well be over 1 hour late. Remember, most candidates show up 10 minutes early, so showing up 4 minutes late is 14 minutes of interview time. I am wasting my time because I will not start a new project if I am expecting someone “6 minutes ago”.  Yeah, seriously, just stay home.

The job interview checklist for the day BEFORE the interview

  • Check the route to your interview the day before. You don’t want to be late for this appointment. If you are late, you just started this interview off on the wrong foot.  You will be digging yourself out of a hole and it will have been nobody’s fault except your own. Even if you know how to get there, check where you will find parking and allot time, especially in downtown metropolitan areas. If you are really early, wait in the car. Don’t show up 30 minutes early. Consider this a first date.  I don’t want to be in the shower getting ready and hear the doorbell ring and then feel rushed through my “get ready ritual”. You think making “all this look this good” is easy?

Basic stuff

  • Brush your teeth and crush some mints. Not just one, “some mints”.  Altoids make those “cute little” travel tins, and Listerine makes those melt-in-your-mouth breath fresheners. Discreet and effective. Interview rooms are small. Since I won’t have a gas mask handy, bad breath in a small room will want me to end your interview quickly. In the least, I won’t be thinking about your interview answers.
  • Make sure your phone is turned off BEFORE you enter the building. Keep it off in the lobby while you are waiting. If you are bored, read company literature and learn something useful.  Your email can wait an hour.
  • Make sure you have an interview outfit that is ready to go, clean, and pressed. A clean outfit is just showing common courtesy and even if you are just scheduled to meet with a recruiter, you never know when you may be introduced to the hiring manager or the VP of the department.  This is my indication of how well you will represent our company to vendors and customers if hired, so make a good impression.

What should be on your “job interview checklist”:

  • Extra copies of your resume, cover letter, and references.  Nothing worse than being asked “do you have a copy of your resume” and standing there empty-handed wondering “can I ask this guy to Xerox off some extra copies”. Unprepared and Awwwkarrddd. Do you think I go into a board meeting empty-handed with no paper? I realize this is the year of technology and everyone is trying to conserve trees, but screw the trees, this is your career we are talking about.
  • A couple of extra mints. Nervousness can cause bad breath, and if interviews go long or even better, they go well, don’t be surprised if you are asked to stay and meet with additional interviewers.   (A great sign)
  • Notebook to take notes. This notebook should have the questions YOU are going to ask written down. It is OK to refer to notes during an interview. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. Unless you are interviewing for a Spelling Bee, bring notes. I don’t want to hire someone who thinks they can remember everything so act like you give a damn.  (Avoid taking notes on your cell phone.  Older generations are distracted by this and don’t know about Trello or Stickies. They will think you are sexting your next Friday night).

A job interview checklist as you end the meetings  (even if the interview is a FAIL)

  • The contact information for everyone you talked to, INCLUDING the receptionist. Once you get a name, write it down. If you get a couple of business cards, you can figure out the email format and extrapolate to folks you didn’t get info on. You don’t need an Enigma machine to figure out company emails.
  • If the company has product literature, bring it home. This might help with talking points for your thank you letter or future research.

Next time you are called to a last-minute interview, don’t panic. Make yourself a checklist for the interview and remain calm.

See you at the after party,


nasty: an unreal maneuver of incredible technique, something that is ridiculously good, tricky and manipulative but with a result that can’t help but be admired, a phrase used to describe someone who is good at something. “He has a nasty forkball”.

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