Just last week one of our clients rejected an excellent candidate for their open position because she went through the in-person interview process without taking any notes. A minor mistake that had major negative impact. The following recommendations may sound like Interviewing 101 but it is amazing how unprepared one can be for interviews. Here is your must-do list before every interview:

1. Research the Company – Visit their website, read the most recent five (at least) news releases they have on their site. See if the people you are meeting with have a bio on the site. Look over the company profile and the staff profiles on Linkedin. Google their products by brand name and by category to see who their top competitors are and what they are up to. If you do this research in advance, the day before you interview, do a quick google search to see if anything very new has happened.

2. Write Down Answers to Practice Questions – This is the recommendation that gets disregarded the most, and leaves you open to the most mistakes. Sounding articulate is not genetic. It is the result of preparation and confidence in what you have to say. Pick 20 of the most common Interview questions and physically write YOUR answers to them. The answers should be polished enough to be submitted for a grade, but DON’T memorize these answers. You don’t want to sound rehearsed, just prepared. By writing down the answers you think through the best way of presenting yourself.

3. Research the Company’s Attire – Dressing correctly for the interview has become a new minefield. A Smith Hanley candidate wore a dark purple suit and purple shirt (!?) with no tie to a clothing retailer corporate VP position and they cited his attire as one of his winning attributes. “He didn’t come in boring navy suit/white shirt/red tie.” Overdressing has become as bad as underdressing. Go to the company Facebook page and see how they depict their work environment. Ask your recruiter or contact at the company what they recommend wearing. Of course, clean and neat is always required, but attire has become yet another measure of your fit for the position.

4. Be Enthusiastic – Give yourself a pep talk before you walk through the company’s doors. You want to express interest and energy throughout the interview process. Don’t lounge in your chair. Sit straight and sit forward. Express engagement through your body language and the tone of your voice. Take notes. Ask good questions. Behave as if you want this job…even if you start to have misgivings about it during the interview process. It is always better to be in a position to turn down a job offer you don’t want versus never getting the offer in the first place.

Executive Recruiters, Smith Hanley Associates, can assist you in all the preparations you make for your job interviews. Our niche recruiters are happy to advise you and target companies you may particularly be interested in. Look for us at


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