Interview Checklist – Prepare, Onsite and Post Interview

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Some of these tips may seem overly obvious, but it never hurts to have an interview checklist.



  1. Research the company! This is critical. You are not expected to know everything about the company, however, you will be expected to discuss and ask intelligent questions about the company. Review their performance in the marketplace. Have they made the news lately? Based on what you know, why do you want to work there?
  2. Research the individuals you will be meeting with. Most companies will provide candidates with an interview itinerary detailing the names of the people you will be meeting. Take the time to look these people up on LinkedIn and make note of interesting things in their background or potential talking points you can ask them about. This kind of preparation helps to ensure healthy and productive conversation while onsite. It will help you avoid lulls in the conversation that can be viewed as awkward or culturally alarming.
  3. Review the job description. This again is critical! You will be expected to answer questions about why this position seemed attractive and what skills you can offer in order to do the job. You want to answer the questions as they relate to what the company wants.
  4. Be sure to get a good night’s sleep the night before your interview. You want to wake feeling energized and ready to go. It is also a good idea to lay out your outfit and all of your interview materials the night before to avoid being rushed or frustrated in the morning.
  5. Eat a good breakfast. Not only is it healthy, it will wake your body up faster and allow you to be present, noticed and attentive in all of your interviews that day.
  6. Be sure to wear a suit or business formal outfit to your interview. Even if the dress code is casual, this will make you stand out and show you take pride in not only your appearance, but the seriousness with which you make an application for this position.
  7. Items to take with you on the interview: extra copies of your resume on white 8.5 x 11 paper, notepad with pen or pencil to write down important things about the position and the interviewers, photo ID card, bottle of water to ensure voice clarity and articulated communication and list of prepared questions for the interviewers just in case your mind goes blank when asked, “Do you have any questions for me?”


  1. It is important to smile and be polite. Be sure to thank every individual you meet for their time and attention. As you can imagine they have very busy schedules and a simple thank you speaks volumes about your character and interest in the position.
  2. Take your time in answering questions. It is certainly acceptable to pause and reflect on the question before answering. Gather your thoughts so that you may answer effectively.
  3. Stay Organized! Keep your notepad and pen handy. You never know what might catch your ear as a follow-up question or important information to note to mull over after the interview.
  4. Stay Positive! Even if you feel the interview is not going well, try your hardest not to let that show. Keep smiling and do your best to finish the interview strong.
  5. NEVER SPEAK NEGATIVELY ABOUT THE COMPANY WHILE ONSITE. After your interview is complete, have a discussion with your family or your recruiter about your troubled thoughts on the company, the position or the staff. This will be the time to speak candidly about your feelings and these discussions should be kept confidential. Do not raise these concerns while onsite as their sensitivity may impact your employability for this position or even other positions in the future.
  6. Ask questions! This displays excitement and interest in the position which is something every hiring manager looks for in a candidate. Should you find that all of your questions have been answered without even asking a single one, ask questions about the interviewer themselves. What attracted you to this company? What has kept you here at this company? What would you say to someone trying to get a job with this company? You will find that people usually enjoy talking about themselves and it may lead to building good rapport and making a lasting impression.
  7. Have fun! Hiring managers like to see personality and a sense of humor. Hiring managers enjoy a good conversation and look for people who are easy to talk to and enjoyable to be around. It is understandable that you may be nervous, however, try to stay relaxed and enjoy the success of getting this far in the process.
  8. Do not ask about salary, benefits or vacation time. This is a discussion you can have if an offer was to come your way. Your main focus at this point should be getting the offer. Should an interviewer open this discussion by asking your compensation expectations, then you may discuss it, but try to do it through offering a salary range versus a single number. State your expectations and say nothing further. If they ask for justification for that number, have reasoning to support it.
  9. Again, Say Thank you!

Post Interview

  1. Review your notes and take some time to think about the experience. Is this something you really want to do? Would it be a good fit for you? Did you feel comfortable? Your immediate, visceral reaction is often the clearest.
  2. Call your recruiter and discuss your thoughts further. Your recruiter is someone who will keep the conversation confidential but has the knowledge of the company, the position and the staff to be helpful.
  3. Draft a thank you note that would be appropriate to send to each individual you interviewed with. No need to go into incredible detail. Just relay how grateful you were for the time they spent with you, what you like about the position and how you feel you would fit in. No need to draft a specific letter to each person. An overall note of your gratitude is more than acceptable. Make it succinct and personable. Anything longer than ¾ of a page is excessive and likely won’t be read fully. Review our popular 8 Interview Thank You Note No-no Slideshare.


Interested in some more help on your job search?  Contact Smith Hanley Associates‘ Executive Recruiter, Sean Murphy, at smurphy@smithhanley.com or 312.589-7584


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