Think Ahead: 8 Ways to Prep for a Job Interview

Being Prepared

Luck happens when preparation meets opportunity

Being prepared has definitely been a theme in my life in central Florida during Hurricane Season (June 1 – Nov. 30). Starting every May or June, I buy a few items each week at the grocery store to stock up & check the supply list for necessities.  In years past, we weathered threats of Hurricane Charley here in Tampa Bay in 2004 with nothing but a day of occasional drizzle and normal wind gusts materializing – luckily for us.  The storm turned a mere hour before it was predicted to make a direct hit to Tampa Bay & made land about 2 hours south of us instead.

Get prepared in the calm BEFORE the storm ....
Get prepared in the calm BEFORE the storm ….

Our boarded windows, gallons of water and stockpiled canned goods ended up being unnecessary precautions. Yet, as we put our yard furniture back outside and return the valuables to their original locations, we were more than grateful for the time, money, and energy we spent preparing for this – a real threat of natural disaster.

Sometimes we get lazy, or maybe even a bit arrogant (who?  us?  NEVER!) and we neglect to prepare, we ignore what we know we should do, or are told by those ‘in the know’ to do.

Someone who should know better, without naming names 😉 , walked into an interview the other day having not done any research on the company.

What was the first question asked?  “What do you know about our company?” — Uh oh.  That’s a hard one to answer on charm and ‘BS” alone, now isn’t it?

Businessman offering for handshake

Just like the beach folks who decided to ride out the storm in their waterfront homes down in southwest Florida where Charley did strike, sometimes we regret not thinking and acting ahead of time.  We get cocky at worse, complacent at best.

We think, “Oh, I can handle this.”

For every one client that is being proactive and working on their resume and cover letter content before they have a great job in front of them, I get two or three who call frantically asking, “How quickly can we get this job done?”  (and then I have to tell them, regretfully, that I don’t do rush jobs (because they can’t be done well and I don’t do just so-so work ….and those that DO rush jobs are going to charge you extra – maybe a lot extra – for it, just FYI, believe me on this one!)

I’m not suggesting we always carry water, duct tape, a change of clothes and a snake bit kit any time we leave the house “just in case”.  It is simply a fact, though, that some things are easier to see coming than others.  I carry my drivers license, cash, a comb and Tylenol almost always, which I can reasonable expect to need from time to time.

If we are job searching, we know what we need to do and the basics that will be asked of us.

Take the time to think ahead and make sure you have, and have done, all that you need to ensure success.  THEN it is time to relax and go with the flow of whatever happens, knowing you did your best to be ready for the typical, logical patterns and events.


Here’s how to prepare for an interview:


1. Put together a reference sheet. Don’t show up to an interview without it, as the same unnamed candidate above did last week (who has been made an example with her permission 🙂 ).

2. Prep your references before you even arrive at the interview.  Drop a short email or quick call that they may be hearing from someone at the XYZ Company & tell them the job you applied for, and a bit about it.  This is a courteous to your references, and, helps them speak about your best qualities & skills that fit that particular job.

3. Review your resume and other materials: A friend and client decided last week, in an effort to motivate herself and get out of a slump feeling, to reread notes from an old motivational leadership seminar she had attended years ago (which, by the way, is always a great way to prepare yourself and get the leading edge – continuing education throughout your career.)  She had used that particular style and motto of leadership in her previous positions and really resonated with the techniques and value system.

Her prep strategy worked.  She felt energized and passionate about her work again as she went into her third round of interviews, this time with the CEO of the company, who would be her direct supervisor.

As he looked over her resume, he said “Oh, I see you’re a fan of (and quoted a somewhat obscure theme of the class she had taken – the notes she had just reviewed that morning).”  She said she was amazed – had she not prepared herself mentally in this way prior to this interview, she would not have remembered the precise point the CEO referenced, and would have stared blankly and fumbled.  Instead, she was able to immediately chime in an accurate and inspired reply that surely impressed the interviewer.  Her pep strategy to get out of her slump ended up being a fantastic prep strategy as well!

4. Bring printed copies of an updated and wonderful resume printed on hand for the interviewers.

5. Research a company you are interested in, contact your references to let them know you are searching and for what types of positions.

6. Keep a list of jobs applied for easily accessible so you are ready when they call you.

7. Cut back your spending for now, in case your job search and time without steady income lasts longer than you anticipated.

8. Do buy pantyhose or a new tie if needed;  shine your shoes, get your interview suit dry cleaned NOW, not frantically the morning they call to interview you that afternoon.


Be prepared and you will handle “this” — a.k.a  any case scenario — with grace and ease, and, gratitude (for your forward thinking, of course!)


More Interview Tips available here!