An absolute key factor in obtaining a job offer from an employer is preparation.

Preparing for an interview can be compared to studying for a test, or practicing a speech or piano piece. If you do not study, practice or prepare, the odds are likely that you will fail. Yet, thousands of people go to an interview without any preparation; those same people can never understand why the interview did not go well. Preparation for the interview is paramount to receiving a job offer.

Use the following ten steps when preparing for the interview.

  • Know the name, title, and location of the interviewer.
    You should obtain the correct spelling of the interviewer's name and the interviewer's telephone number in the event of an emergency. Prior to the interview, you should go to the interviewing location, using the mode of transportation you will be using for the interview, to determine the exact location. This will also enable you to judge the distance and timeframe associated with traffic. If you are a person with a disability, be certain to ask about accessibility issues associated with the building.
  • Ensure you have the correct time of the interview.
    You cannot be late for this interview under any circumstances. Be sure you confirm the exact time of the interview when the interview is scheduled. Many qualified candidates have been disqualified for an opportunity because of being ten minutes late, or having the wrong time for the interview.
  • Be certain you know the position you are being interviewed for with the company.
    To accurately prepare for the interview, you need to know the job opening in detail.
  • Know the company.
    Many, many people have been dismissed by employers because they could not answer one key question, "Tell me, what do you know about this company?" Answering this question with a profound "not much", "nothing", or "I really haven't had any time to research the company", shows a sign of a lack of initiative and a lack of interest in the company. Go to the company's web site or to the library to do research before the interview, to determine the company's main business, company size, number of locations, number of employees, and any recent news or developments about the company. In addition, you should read the mission and value statements which will give you an idea of the culture of the company.
  • Take a copy of your resume, and any other appropriate documentation including transcripts, for recent graduates.
    Your resume should be printed on white or off-white high-quality bond paper. A fatal flaw of interviewees is to provide a resume with typographical errors. This lack of preparation is a signal to an employer that you are not quality-oriented.
  • References are a key to getting the job offer.
    Have copies of your references including the references' name, title, company, and telephone number. Prior to using someone as a reference, you must call the person, to obtain permission from them. So many times, a search firm or company will call the reference only to hear, "Oh, I didn't know he/she was using me as a reference." Make sure the person feels comfortable speaking positively about you when contacted. Do not use all personal references, as you need to provide people you have directly reported to as well as people you have worked with. For a management position, also include people who have worked for you.
  • Be prepared to answer representative interviewing questions.
    You should go to the Internet, to the Library or to a Bookstore to find a reference that identifies representative questions that are asked during an interview. This will allow you to formulate the answers to questions employers ask during an interview. There are countless books written about interviewing for a job.
  • Be prepared to go through your entire resume with the interviewer and explain reasons for employment changes and if applicable, explain any "gaps" in employment.
    Everything on your resume must be accurate, with no omissions of employment.
  • Be prepared to ask questions.
    At some point during the interview, most likely at the end, the employer will ask if you have any questions. If you do not ask any questions, the employer may assume you are not assertive or not interested.
  • Practice, Practice, Practice.
    Sit down with a friend, family member, or colleague to practice answering different questions that may be asked during the interview. Remember, on the interview you will not be answering questions with memorized answers. You must be genuine and sincere in answering questions. Practicing is a way to help you feel more at ease, and to structure different answers.

You are now prepared for the interview. Doing all of this preparation is a key to gaining confidence on the interview, and gaining an advantage over other interviewees who are ill prepared. This shows the employer that you are intelligent, you want the job, and you have initiative. My final words of advice - Be yourself and tell the truth!