Last Minute Interview Checklist

You’re about to head out to an interview for your dream job and your mind is running a mile a minute. Before you step out the door, take a moment to go over this short checklist to make sure you are fully prepared.

 

  • Read over your resume again. Check for any small grammatical or spelling errors you might have missed the first time around.
  • Check yourself out in the mirror. Make sure your tie is straight, your shirt is tucked in, and there isn’t a hair out of place.
  • Make sure you have everything your interviewer asked you to bring. This could include the proper amount of resume copies, proper identification, a list of references, or a sample of your work.
  • Don’t bring anything you don’t need in the interview. Don’t bring food or drinks into your interview and avoid eating right before going in. You don’t want to spill anything on your suit or get something stuck in your teeth.
  • Look over the job description one last time. Also, it would be good to check out the company’s “About Us” section on their website. Make sure to completely familiarize yourself with the job and the company before your interview. You want to be fully informed so you can both ask thoughtful questions and answer questions thoughtfully.
  • Check the time again. While you don’t want to be late for your interview, you also don’t want to be too early. Showing up too early is just as rude as being late. Try not to arrive more than 10 minutes early for your interview, but leave some wiggle room in your schedule to allow for any traffic or public transportation issues that may arise. If you end up arriving to the building earlier than you would like, find somewhere cool to take a seat and look over your resume again before going in.
  • Right before you walk out the door, take one last look in the mirror and repeat a positive affirmation. Make eye contact with yourself and repeat a phrase like “I will get this job.” Affirmations are a great way to build confidence, and interviewers will be more inclined to hire a confident candidate than a nervous one.

 

Check off every item on this list, then take a deep breath and get going!

Creating the Perfect Cover Letter

Cover letters serve as an introduction to your resume. While a great cover letter can help you make a good first impression on an employer, a bad cover letter could result in an employer discarding your resume without reading further. Follow the tips below while writing your cover letters and you will be sure to impress every hiring manager you send them to.

  • Be creative:
    • Recruiters and hiring managers spend all day going over cover letters, so it’s incredibly important that yours stands out. Most job seekers follow the same basic cover letter format, so anything you do differently will make yours unique.
    • Try to grab your reader’s attention in the first few sentences of your cover letter. Avoid using the basic introduction stating how perfect you are for a particular position. If you can’t grab the reader’s attention immediately, they probably will not continue reading the cover letter.
  • Be brief:
    • Job seekers commonly mistake cover letters as opportunities to present their entire professional background. While you want to mention the highlights of your career and skills, you do not need to mention every position you have had in the past ten years.
    • It’s also important to use your cover letter as an opportunity to mention any skills or past responsibilities you have had that qualify you for the position you are applying for. If a hiring manager sees specific skills they are looking for mentioned in your cover letter, they will be more inclined to view your resume.
  • Be personal:
    • While you want to keep your cover letter professional, it is also important to give it a personal tone. Speak conversationally without being too informal, and avoid being overly formal.
    • Mention something about yourself that makes you stand out as a stellar candidate. Cover letters provide an opportunity to mention any past experience or skill you have that may not fit on a resume, but helps qualify you for a particular position.

 

Cover letters not only give employers insight into your background, they also serve as a representation of your writing and communication skills. After completing your cover letter, be sure to edit it for any grammatical or spelling mistakes. Also, we suggest you have someone else read through it to check for readability and any mistakes you may have missed. Simply follow this advice and your cover letter will be sure to impress any hiring manager!

Choosing Quality References

You had a successful interview and you have a job offer pending, but in order to complete the process your new employer wants to check your references. If you have questions about how to choose the right references to lock in that offer, look no further! We’ve answered some basic questions to help you provide the best references possible.

  1. Who makes a great reference?
    • An ideal reference would be a former supervisor – not a family member or coworker.
    • Even if you worked for a family member, employers do not consider them to be good references. A family member will most likely be biased and provide a good reference for you no matter what.
    • Coworkers also make bad references, because as far as the employer knows, any coworker could be your best friend. In that case, they will also be biased and inclined to provide a good reference for you.
    • A former supervisor is most likely to be honest in their answers when providing a reference, and they are most knowledgeable of your work ethic and quality of work. They also know how you follow instructions and take initiative better than anyone else.
    • If you can’t use a direct supervisor as a reference, the next best person would be a coworker who was in a superior position to you.
  2. What information do I need to provide for my reference contacts?
    • After choosing your references, it’s important to make sure you have their full contact information.
    • Make sure to provide your references’ first and last name, phone number, email address and business address. Also, include their professional title and the name of their company. If a reference you worked with in the past is no longer with the same company, it helps to include both their current and former titles and companies.
  3. Do I need to call my references before using them?
    • Be sure to get approval from your references before giving them to your potential new employer. That way, you are sure their contact information is correct and they know to expect a phone call from your new company.
    • Also, it’s good to reconnect with a former supervisor before they receive a call asking for a reference. If it’s been a while since you were last in touch, they will have a fresh, positive memory of you.
    • Some corporations do not allow their employees to give references and will only allow employment verifications through Human Resources. If you call a former boss ahead of time, you will know whether or not they are even allowed to provide a reference.

Employers strongly rely on references to verify a potential employee’s background and work ethic, so it’s important that you provide them with references that will impress them. Follow the advice we’ve provided and you’ll be

The Do’s & Don’ts of Requesting Time Off

DO:

  • Give your employer plenty of notice before taking time off.
  • Try to plan your vacations, trips, etc. around your supervisor’s and coworkers’ schedules to avoid taking time off at the same time as the rest of the office.
  • Put your time off request in writing – a verbal request could easily be forgotten.
  • Try to schedule any doctor’s appointments, etc. during your lunch break, so that you don’t need to miss work.
  • Save your sick days for when you are actually sick – you never know when/if you will need them.

DON’T:

  • Request a lot of time off after just starting a new position.
  • Request time off at the last minute – for example, you shouldn’t wait until Friday to ask for that Monday off.
  • Assume you are guaranteed time off around holidays – always be sure to ask your employer about the holiday schedule and request time off if needed.
  • Use all of your paid time off at once – try to avoid missing a large amount of work at one time by spreading out your time off throughout the year.

Selling Yourself

It is a well-known fact that people are usually quick to judge. Unfortunately, this does not exclude hiring managers and potential employers. It is important to make a great first impression, whether on the phone or in person. This includes what you say, what you wear, and how you present yourself overall. Here are a few suggestions for you to consider:

  • Look good: Personal appearance plays a key role in making a great first impression on a potential employer.
    • Always dress appropriately for interviews – this means business professional unless your interviewer has instructed you otherwise.
    • Keep it simple – don’t wear a ton of jewelry or anything else that could distract your interviewer from what you’re saying.
    • Avoid wearing perfume or cologne – your interviewer may be allergic.
    • Groom properly – perfection is in the details! Be sure to brush your teeth or pop a mint prior to an interview, and keep your fingernails neat, clean and trim.
  • Sound good: Having a summary of your background prepared is a great way to impress hiring managers both in an interview and on the phone.
    • Your interviewer will most likely have a copy of your resume in front of him or her, so they don’t need you to go over every position and responsibility in detail.
    • A great interview trick is the “60 Second Sell” (created by best-selling author Robin Ryan). Memorize a summary of your background and qualifications that you can present (in under 60 seconds) to a potential employer. Things to include would be your education, your skills, and any specific qualifications you have that make you a great fit for the position.
    • When hiring manager’s say “Tell me about yourself,” they don’t want you to ramble on for 15 minutes. With the” 60 Second Sell”, you will be able to highlight your best qualities and sell yourself in only a minute!
  • Feel good: Smile, even if you don’t feel like it!
    • Show potential employers that you are confident YOU would be the best choice for the position.
    • Even if you’re feeling nervous, it is important to walk into an interview with your head held high. Feigning confidence can even help you feel more confident, and you’ll forget you were ever nervous in the first place!
    • On the other hand, don’t be overconfident! No one wants to hire a big ego.

 

Remember: first impressions are lasting, especially in a slow job market! Employers can afford to be picky, so it is important you present them with the best version of you!