Interview Pre-Planning and Planning – Part 1

We can never know for sure who will be sitting across from the desk and interviewing us for that dream job. A Recruiter? Hiring Manager? CEO? Human Resources? Are they an experienced interviewer? Have a clear understanding of the open position? Are they the gatekeeper or the decision maker? Since we do not know for sure, we cannot assume that we know what will be asked and how the interview will be conducted. Our best line of defense with the many unknowns of the job interview is “BE PREPARED.”

First Impressions

What phone number have you provided? Is it a line that goes directly to you voicemail? Since a potential interviewer may need to leave you a message, make sure to prepare a professional voicemail message that will leave a positive first impression and that does not give away too much information.

Here are some examples of messages that may easily ensure that you will NOT get called in for the interview:

  1. “Hey whassup, you know what to do.”
  2. “This is Carly’s boyfriend Roy, she’s busy. Leave a message.”
  3. “You’ve reached John, Kathy, Troy, Susie, Caitlin and Fluffy. Leave us a message.”
  4. “We are not here. Call back and God bless.”

You get the point. Be clear, professional and positive in your message and keep it simple.

“Hi, this is Mark and I am sorry I missed your call. Please leave your name, number and a brief message and I will return your call shortly. Thank you.”


Make sure it is reliable and that you have a backup. If you are taking public transportation, make sure you have checked and double-checked the schedules, purchased tickets in advance, planned alternative routes and left ample time for delays.

If you are driving, make sure your vehicle represents you well. This does not mean that it needs to be a BMW. It does mean that it needs to be clean, without toys and juice boxes falling out the door. You never know if an interviewer will walk you to your car. Why would they do this? A disorganized, sloppy car may be an indicator of what your desk and work habits will look like. It may also be much too telling. Five magnets with soccer, football, dance, gymnastics, etc. may beg the question of how busy your family life really is and if it could interfere with a new position. You never want to offer up too much personal information!

Interview Attire

Make sure that you have more than one appropriate interview outfits. Do some homework on the company so you can see what is appropriate to wear. Dress neatly, and put forth a positive first physical appearance. (Clean shaven, nails polished/clean, well-groomed hair).

Do Your Research

Learn what you can about the company. What are the company’s goals/mission, what products/services are offered? Have there been any recent changes in organizational structure? Any current news about the organization? What is the company history?

Learn what you can about the open position. To whom does it report? Why is it open? Are there any direct reports? Is there a formal job description that you can review in advance?

Keeping the above in mind can help you to start preparing to go on your interview. Next month, we will look at things you should know when you come face-to-face with your interviewer.