Step-by-step timeline for a successful job interview
You got the interview! Congratulations. That’s the first step toward getting the job you want and furthering your career. To make the most of the hiring process you need to understand how to prepare and when to do certain things that will improve your chances for success.
Here is a timeline of how to make the most of the entire process from interview to offer and when to do what.
Once you’ve received the interview request:
Now it’s time to prepare, big-time. It’s your one chance to prove you’re the right candidate for the job. If for some reason you don't have much time to prepare, check out these tips for good questions to ask your interviewer.
As soon as you have a date for the meeting:
Research the company by looking at their website and reading the “About” section as well as any press releases or articles. Learn about any special services they offer (spa, 5-star dining, conferences, special events they’re known for, etc.) Also, if they’re located in a resort destination, what’s unique about that area and how can you contribute? These are all things you can bring up in an interview to demonstrate your interest and knowledge.
Also, with today’s technology, it’s not hard to find out a little more about the individual you’ll be meeting. Look on social media and even the company’s website (they may have some staff bios) and discover what this person might be like. You’ll see what experience they have, where they’ve worked before and where they went to school. You may find you have some things in common and can get a sense of who they are before you meet.
A week before the interview:
Once you know about the company and the interviewer, start thinking about and developing questions you might be asked and practicing your answers. In addition to what you might be asked, think about what you want to ask the interviewer. It’s important to have some questions ready: it shows you’ve thought about the position and are interested in finding out more than what can be found on the job posting. Ask about future growth opportunities, day-to-day expectations, what’s the timeline for a decision on this position, what do they like best about this company, etc.
2 days before your interview:
Get your paperwork together. Be sure you have your resume, cover letter and references copied and bring them with you to the interview… just in case. The interviewer should have all these things, but if they don’t, you’ll come prepared.
Day of your interview:
Be sure you know how to get to the office where you’re meeting. Look it up and plot the route ahead of time, allowing for plenty of time in case you run into traffic or construction delays. Get there in time to relax a little and compose yourself and to find where you need to be in the building. Then sit quietly and calmly – don’t engage in social media or talking on the phone before you go in. Stay focused.
Make sure you’re not hungry or thirsty – eat something and bring along something to drink.
Make sure you’re dressed appropriately and your clothes are clean and pressed.
During the interview:
Present a confident and pleasant attitude, make eye contact and answer the questions concisely, backed up with facts. You practiced your answers and should be able to deliver them with poise. Be professional, use terms that are common in the industry for this position, but don’t try to be a “know it all.” Exaggerating almost always backfires. Ask the interviewer the questions you’ve prepared and if they need anything else from you in order to make a decision. Ask when you can expect to hear about the next step.
After the interview, same day:
Always hand write and mail a personal thank-you note to the interviewer and mention something specific that you discussed or found especially interesting. This is important – don’t skip this step. Thank-you notes make an impact on the decision and it’s a personal touch that sets you apart.
A week-10 days later:
(Do not jump the gun and follow up until after the time/date you were given for the next step) If you haven’t heard anything yet from the employer, follow up with a brief email to the interviewer. Remind them of the date you met and the position you were interviewing for. Ask how the process is going and if they need anything more from you. Then wait. If you don’t hear anything, you may want to follow up one more time (a few days later); if you still don’t receive a response, you can assume you’re not in the running. It’s unfortunate, but companies sometimes only respond to those that are seriously considering. Time to move on.
You got an offer!
Depending on the position, your offer may require a drug test or background check as a contingency to the offer. Follow the directions and arrange to get these things done as soon as possible. As long as those contingencies are met, it’s time to review the offer. Make sure you know exactly what is expected and timeframe for acceptance. Regardless of accepting or declining the offer, be sure to do it in writing.