You work so hard to get an informational meeting, a job interview, or a network meeting that could lead to a job. But how much time – in hours – are you spending to prepare for that meeting? Not enough! And if your answer IS “enough,” then double it. Whether you are searching for a job outside your company or you are striving for a promotion or job change within your company, follow the same guidance.

Get it right! Don’t make any of these meeting preparation bloopers:

  1. Not rehearsing the most basic interview questions.
  2. Not bringing copies of your résumé, cover letter, and the job description you want to discuss.
  3. Not bringing a pad and pen to take notes. (No, this time don’t use a computer!)
  4. Not studying the company, the division that is hiring, and the job description in great detail.
  5. Not dressing appropriately, looking disheveled, disorganized, or not ready to work.
  6. Not knowing where you are going – getting lost, being late.

Treat networking meetings, informational meetings, and interviews all the same.   Regardless of whom you are meeting with, the person on the other side of the table or the phone is asking themselves these questions:

  • Are they someone I would recommend to someone I know?
  • Are they someone who is showing the skills needed to be successful at work?
  • Are they committed to the job search process and will follow through on next steps?  Or are they just sniffing around?
  • Are they passionate about the job or company or industry we are talking about?

Follow these three preparation steps and you’ll be successful:

Step 1. Interview Questions:  Study the top 10 most common interview questions and write down 3 bulleted answers to each one – no more! Practice and repeat them. For phone interviews, you should have a “cheat sheet” in front of you with the questions and answers.  And it’s okay to bring in notes for your face-to-face meeting, too.   

Time estimate:  2½ – 3 hours (approximately 15-20 minutes per question).  Block the time in your calendar, find a quiet place, and do this well. 

Step 2.  Job Description and Your Résumé:  List the top 5 reasons why you are the best candidate for the job or company.  These should be in the form of skills and experience you have to offer THEM and should not be a list of random skills that are irrelevant to the job or company. Memorize those and word them in terms of “You’re looking for XYZ and I have Y years of experience and Z skills.”

Time estimate:  2 hours.

Networking or Interviewing for Your Next Career Move_Get it Right

Networking or Interviewing for Your Next Career Move_Get it Right

Step 3. Prepare to Meet:  Make more than enough copies of your résumé, your cover letter, any samples of your work, and the job description. Organize them all in a neat-looking folder. Bring paper and a pen to take notes with – and use them! Lay out which clothes you are going to wear, try them on to assure all looks good. If your meeting is in the morning, set two alarms so you won’t oversleep!

Print a map and directions and double the time you think it is going to take to get there. If you are not sure, then drive the route a couple of days before to find the exact location. Get there super early on the day of the meeting, and find a coffee shop to wait in.

Be ultra-prepared and you’ll stand out as the best candidate for the job.

We want to hear from you! Share your challenges and questions in the comments section below.