Interview Checklist

Right after you get the interview:

A student holds a sign that says "Hire Me"

If you haven't already done so, research the company so you know a little about them. Google the company, the company's founder, and current management.

Take notes and distill what you find into 3-4 things to talk about during your interview. Example: you find out the the press is buzzing about XYZ Company's new clothing line launch. Find out about the designer. Read a few fashion blogs to see if anyone is dropping any hints. Try and find out why they are getting into clothing after years as a home design store.

The whole search might take 30-45 minutes - but you will impress the interviewer if you have good questions to ask and can talk about XYZ as more than a place to get a paycheck.

Before you go on your interview, check to make sure you have the following:

  • 2 copies of resume.

  • Copies of any licenses or certifications.

  • Copies of honors, awards and certificates.

  • Copies on CD or DVD and USB thumb drive of any projects such as PowerPoint presentations, web sites, artwork, photos, etc. which are relevant to job interview.

The day before your interview:

Call the company to confirm interview time and person you are meeting. If you are not sure how to pronounce a name, ask.

Double check the exact location of the interview ("see the receptionist on third floor," "Ms. Johnson's office at 98 Main St.")

Make sure you know how to get to your interview. Confirm travel: directions, parking, bus or train schedule. If someone is giving you a ride, call and confirm pick up time. Find out if you have to pay for parking and bring enough money to cover additional time in case your interview goes longer than expected. Do you need change for a meter?

On the day of the interview:

Fair or not, you are being judged on how you look and act. The employer is going to be looking at how you present yourself. They can only assume that how you show up for an interview is how you will show up to work.

From the moment you walk in the front door, assume that everyone is watching you. Smile. Stand up straight. Don't fidget or act bored while waiting.

Dress neatly and appropriately for work environment. This is not the time to show off your fashionably ripped jeans or snarky slogan T-shirts. Boys should wear long-sleeve, button dress shirts, dark or khaki pants, belt, dark socks, and dress shoes. Tie is optional but preferred. Girls should wear shirts that are not tight or low cut and nice pants that are not tight and not low cut, and conservative dress shoes. Skirts or dresses are fine too as long as they are not tight or too short. Keep all jewelry to a minimum. No sandals, flip-flops, or sneakers for anyone. No jeans. Clothes should be clean and pressed. Unless you wear a head-covering for religious reasons, no hats or scarves.

Be well groomed. Hair freshly washed and neatly combed. Teeth brushed. If you wear makeup, keep it light and simple. Fingernails clean. Shower. Don't wear perfume or body spray as some interviewers are sensitive to smell. Get rid of any gum before you walk in the door.

Plan to arrive about 15 minutes early. You can never completely account for traffic, trouble finding an office, or non-existent parking spaces.

Give yourself time to duck into the restroom. You don't want to have to excuse yourself during an interview or be distracted by needing a pit stop while you should be concentrating on the interviewer's questions. And you get one last check to see how you look.

During the interview:

Be polite to everyone from the receptionist to the CEO. Being polite might not get you noticed, but being rude will - and might sink any chances at the job.

All those things that your family and teachers have been telling you are true. Shake hands firmly (but no too hard). Sit up straight. Speak clearly. Make eye contact. Appearances and actions matter. The interviewer is looking at YOU and trying to figure out if you will fit into their workplace. These days, they see a lot of people for a single job. Don't give them a reason not to hire you.

Ask questions. Use your research and ask a question or two about the company. If the interviewer mentioned something about the job and you have a question, ask it. An interview should be a conversation. Not only show the interviewer what you can bring to the company, understand what the company can give YOU (besides a paycheck). Will you be working with a particular team or for one boss? What projects is that team/boss currently working on? Do you learn skills on the job or do they have training classes available?

Be aware of the general vibe of the workplace. Is it friendly and informal? Quiet? Funky and creative? How do people dress? Is this a place you can see yourself working?

At the end of the interview:

Ask the interviewer when they expect to make a hiring decision.

Ask when it is okay to follow up to see if they have made a decision. Don't turn into a pest, but you want to demonstrate that you are very interested in this job.

After the interview:

Within 24 hours, write a thank you note. The note should be neatly handwritten (or at least typed and signed) and mailed. While an e-mail "thanks" might be okay, a written note sets you apart from other applicants who don't take this extra step.

Highlight a portion of the interview: "It was interesting to hear about how XYZ Company is planning on a new clothing line next April. I think my fashion career training could be a real asset to the marketing department."

Emphasize what you can bring to the workplace: "My teachers frequently comment on how thoroughly I complete assignments. I will bring that same level of enthusiasm when working for XYZ."

Sign the note and mention that you will follow up at the time you specified at the end of the interview.

If you got permission, follow up with a phone call to the interviewer to find out the status of the job. If they hired someone else, be polite, tell the interviewer that you are still interested in XYZ Company and will look for future opportunities. If they are still interviewing, ask when you can follow up again. And then do that.