Before the Interview

In order to prepare for the interview, make sure to go through the following checklist:

  • Go through the Image Checklist 
  • Know the YCY:
      • Yourself
      • Company
      • Your Purpose

Image Checklist

When dressing for your interview, be aware that your choices of clothing, fragrances, jewelry, hairstyle, etc. are not distracting and do not call negative attention to them. You want the interviewer’s attention on what you say and your qualifications.

  • Use make-up to highlight your natural beauty – Avoid wearing too much makeup
  • Clean fingernails and use hand cream for dryness if necessary
  • Well-groomed hairstyle — Neatly trimmed, haircut, out of face and eyes 
  • Brush your teeth and use mouthwash, avoid chewing gum
  • Minimal perfume – Perfume should be subtle and not overwhelming
  • Keep jewelry simple and to a minimum – Limit yourself to only wear three pieces of jewelry (Earrings, necklace, bracelet/ring)

Know Yourself

When preparing for an interview, it is important to understand who you are and what you have to contribute. This is a time for self-assessment. Know your values, goals and what you can bring to the company. Employers will often ask behavioral questions during interviews in order to get to know you better as an individual. In order to prepare:

  • Have good examples about teamwork, leadership, motivation or criteria that fit the job description
  • Be aware of your strengths and weaknesses
    • Also, focus on what you can do to improve upon your weaknesses
  • Practice behavioral questions about your experience, skills, goals and accomplishments
    • Think about examples in your life you can use to answer some of the questions, refer to the section on behavioral questions in the following pages

Know the Company

The importance of conducting company research before an interview is often overlooked. Doing background research on the company will impress employers and make you stand out. Be familiar with the mission statement and purpose of the company. Stay updated with current events, projects and products, financial events, new retail plans, etc.

You can easily use this knowledge as conversation starters and as a means of highlighting your strengths. For example, it can be brought up in conversation simply by saying, “I read that [Elementary School] is currently introducing a new curriculum for its students to increase classroom interaction. It’s very interesting and innovative. With my passion for teaching students and bettering their futures, I could help develop lesson plans that would not only engage the students but also promote the vision of the new curriculum.” 

Questions You Can Ask

Toward the end of the interview, your interviewer may ask you, “Do you have any questions for me?” It is always better to have a list of questions ready to ask the interviewer. A candidate who has questions stands out better than one who does not. Having questions ready to ask indicates your preparation for the interview. In addition, it shows your interest in the particular position by conveying you want to know more about it. Below is a list of sample questions you can ask during an interview: 

  •  What are the long-term objectives for this position? If I perform well, what would you expect me to have accomplished in a year?
  • What are some of the difficult challenges of this position or within this company?
  • What are the opportunities for advancement and how do I train for higher positions?
  • What is the company culture like here and how has it developed?
  • How would you describe the responsibilities of the position?
  • What is the company’s management style?
  • Would you like a list of references?
  • When can I expect to hear from you?
  • Are there any other questions I can answer for you?

A good rule of thumb to remember: Never ask about salary, benefits or time off at the first interview. Be sure to ask questions that were not discussed in the interview.

Know Your Purpose 

Last of all, know your purpose. This section can be described through three questions

  • Why are you a good match? 
    • Understand what the position you are applying for requires of you based on the job description. Reflect on why you are the perfect candidate for the position and what qualifications you have.
  • What makes you unique? 
    • Your experiences are what make you unique, whether it is your cultural ethnicity for example, a background in Hispanic cultures and languages. When asked about what makes you unique, focus and play on your strengths. 
  • What is your competitive advantage? 
    • This also goes with your uniqueness factor. If you speak more than one language, your knowledge of another language can be your competitive factor. Other competitive advantages may include your past experiences and occupations you have had. 

Facilitate the following activity: Write down all of your successes, both personal and career-related. Then, see if there’s a common theme. If there’s one talent or skill that runs through most of your achievements, chances are that’s your gift. For example, you’ve been praised for your ability to calm down angry co-workers or clients. Outside of work, you’ve become the go-to person in your neighborhood, family, or friend group to resolve conflicts. Your gift is for mediation.

Name one positive trait of the person sitting next to you and have everyone can discuss how that would translate well in the workplace.