Do you have an upcoming interview?

Don’t see it as a memory test.  See it as one part business meeting, one part blind date.

If you were going to a business meeting, you would do a lot of preparation, then bring all of your answers and research to the meeting – either to present or use as a reference.

For your interview, do some prep work.  Make a binder or folder with copies of your references (names, contact info including email, their position and in what capacity they saw your work), training certificates or accomplishments.

Look up examples of interview questions online and type up what your answers would be (bullet points are best).  Print it all and bring it along, as well as examples of your work or written praise from former or current supervisors.

Treat it like a business meeting – be ready, but bring everything with you.  When you get to the interview, you will shake their hand(s), sit down, and open your binder/folder in preparation of the “meeting”.  Trust me, they will be impressed.

Remember: nobody ever said that interviews needed to be a test of your memory…that you had to come to the interview empty handed yet able to recall every time you “dealt with a difficult customer” or “went above and beyond the call of duty”.  This isn’t a memory test – they want accurate answers!

If you come to the interview with your skills, experiences, examples and answers written down in front of you, there will be less stress.  It is essentially an “open book” test!

The interview is also partially like a blind date.

You are meeting, sizing each other up and trying to ask the right questions in order to see if you will be a good “match”.

Don’t forget that: the interview goes both ways.  You should also be trying to determine whether it is the type of place you would like to work.

You can assess this based on their level of professionalism, friendliness or sense of humor…the questions they choose to ask you…and by your gut feelings.

Another way to help you decide comes at the point of the interview when they ask if you have any questions for them.

I always come to an interview with 3-5 questions prepared in advance and written down (in my binder/folder, of course).  They can vary from “what qualities did the last person possess that you would like to see continued?” to “what are the most challenging parts of the job?”.

The MOST IMPORTANT question I ask is: “What do (each of) you like about working here?”

Their reaction, body language and verbal answers will tell you everything.

If you ask the question and they light up right away or smile and say something like “the people are great!  We have so much fun!” or “I feel really respected by the company, they treat us really well” or “the job is so fulfilling, I love coming to work every day”, then you know you will probably enjoy working there, too.  See if their answers match your values or are the kind of answers you would want to be able to give in the future.

If you ask the question and they furrow their brows, sit back, laugh nervously, or seem to struggle with the answer…that tells a lot.

They might spurt out a few positive but unenthusiastic things like “the pay and benefits are good” or “I have been here a long time” or “I like stability and my job never changes”…then it might hint that they aren’t all that happy in their jobs.

I have actually turned down more than one job offer because of how the interviewers answered that very question!

If you put some work into your interview prep and approach it as if you are actually interviewing each other, not only will you get more offers…you will know which ones to say yes to.