We’ve probably all heard the old saying, “If you fail to plan, you are planning to fail.” This old adage is especially true as it relates to the job interview. Without a plan, you are putting yourself at a distinct disadvantage when it comes to navigating the interview process and landing your next job. Planning for a successful interview is much like developing a business plan. You want to cover all the bases and be confident that you are ready when the time comes to present yourself to a future employer.
Interview planning doesn’t have to be tedious or overly complicated but it does need to be undertaken if you hope to have a successful interview. Opportunities can present themselves at unexpected times and in unexpected ways – often when we are not even looking for a new job! That is why the best time to start your interview planning is right now.
As we discussed in the recent article “Are you Interview Ready?” there are several important activities you need to undertake to be ready for the next interview (yes, there will be a next interview; unless you work in a family business or are self-employed). Whether you are going after your very first job, transitioning from the military, or seeking to improve your overall work position or income, you can put together a plan and timeline to help motivate and encourage you.
Your interview plan should contain these basic pre-interview elements:
- When do I want to begin my job search?
- What type of work do I want to do?
- Where do I want to work (geographically)?
- What type of organization do I want to work for?
- What are my long-term goals?
- Do I have a resume?
- Do I have references that will endorse me?
From there, you can add additional specifics that relate directly to the interview, such as:
- What are my strengths?
- Which of my past experiences make me a valuable asset for an employer?
- What future value do I bring to an organization?
Next, identify specific accomplishments such as:
- Examples of where I saved money or improved a process for an organization
- Specific education and training I’ve had that relates to my desired job
- My outside activities and connections that relate favorably to my desired job
Also, include the following:
- What am I doing now to prepare for additional responsibilities?
- What I am reading and studying?
- Who do I want to contact to gain additional insight into a specific industry or field?
- Who can I add to my network?
- What will I wear to the interview (do I need to upgrade my wardrobe)?
- Am I practicing for the actual interview?
This plan is just for you to help keep you on track and help you reach important milestones along the way. Modify it and keep it updated as necessary. By adding dates to the specific items you can develop a specific timeline for accomplishing your plan.
Once you have developed your plan, you can use it to prepare for your next successful interview.