Preparation for an Interview is Crucial

Preparation for a job interview is crucial. These stories from job seekers highlight the importance of preparing for a job interview.

Don't Even Go to the Job Interview Unless You Know Two Things!

Alexandria, Virginia

When I was twenty-two and just out of college I really had no plans or no ideas on going into anything like a career. I was basically drifting, and had a vague idea that I would go into graduate school, or maybe wander the Earth, like Caine in "Kung Fu."

One of my sisters arranged for me to have an informational interview at her company (it was and is a big company, very prestigious). Well, I put on a suit and went in and sat down. I had never had any problems speaking to people before, and I was a glib fellow, so I anticipated impressing the interviewer greatly.

I shook hands, sat down, and the gentleman looked at me and in a very friendly manner, as if to break the ice, said, "Why do you want to work here? What do you want to do with your life?"

I was literally struck dumb. It seemed like five minutes before I could bumble out an apologetic "I don't know."

The interviewer was very polite (he was a colleague of my sister, who was very respected in that company), but he couldn't hide the fact that I was completely wasting his time. He did give me about forty more minutes, during which I didn't say a word, but listened to him talk in generalities about the business world.

I can look back on it -- but I still can't laugh about it. I've been to lots of interviews since, and I always have answers to those two questions.

Related Article: Informational Interview Guide - Tips for Informational Interviews
Related Article: Informational Interview Questions - Questions to Ask at an Informational Interview

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Telephone Interview Preparation

I was interviewing for an information specialist for a position in Washington DC. This was the initial screening interview. Of course, at the time I was interviewing for many positions and several of them were from out of state.

I didn't do any research about phone interviews, although now I know that you shouldn't interview in your pajamas or have the TV on. You should have notes, be prepared, have the job description and preferably a list of how your experience aligns to the position.

Well, the bottom line is that I did know about doing the job and I guess the bottom line is, if you know the job well, some other crucial elements might not count as much as you think. I was invited to Washington DC for a follow up call for the interview. The problem: I couldn't remember the interviewer's name!!

Related: Phone Interview Tips - Preparing for a Telephone Interview

I had used a career publication to get the listing. The problem was, I couldn't remember the listing. With some detective work, I called the agency anonymously and learned my interviewer's name!

Lesson Learned: knowing your skills and how they match is most important, but it's very helpful, and far less stressful to write down all of the pertinent information. Don't rely on your memory when you're job searching. Keep detailed and well organized notes!

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