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The Early Bird Gets the Job
A lot of preparation is required to get ready for a job interview. If you’re a working mother, preparation likely means not only preparing yourself, but also arranging for child care or getting your kids off to school or a friend’s house before you arrive at your interview. The better organized you are for this task, the more prepared you’ll be and the better impression you’ll make.
Research the Company
Learn everything you can about the company and the job before your interview. Request a job description and browse the company website. If you know the name of the person with whom you’re interviewing, check him or her out as well if possible. The better your understanding of the company’s mission, goals and objectives, the more informed you’ll sound during your interview.
Plan Your Outfit
While you’re doing your company research, you may get a feel for whether it’s a buttoned-up or a more casual work environment. Regardless, you should err on the side of business professional when selecting your outfit. A suit is always a winning idea, but slacks and a dressy blouse or business dress are OK, too. Avoid wild, colorful patterns in favor of classic cuts and colors like black, cream or navy. Professional shoes such as pumps or flats are advisable; makeup should be muted, not garish, and accessories should be minimal―wildly jangling bracelets or distracting rings should be avoided.
Prep Your Materials
Even if you’ve emailed your resume, plan to bring a hard copy with you as well. Extras are good to have in the event you’re interviewed by a panel. Bring along notes that address common interview topics such as:
- Tell me about yourself (work history and education)
- Why did you leave your last job?
- What are your strengths and weaknesses?
- What are your short- and long-term professional goals?
- How do you handle conflict?
- Why are you the best person for the job?
- Do you have any questions for me?
Also bring along pen and paper as well as a water bottle.
You don’t want to rush into an interview late, unprepared and frazzled. To make a professional entry, do these three things:
- Get the directions and time your commute. If it’s a hard-to-find or unfamiliar place, do a test run during rush hour to determine how long you'll need to get there.
- Plan your outfit and your materials the night before and have them prepped and ready to go.
Make sure you have reliable child care lined up. If you’re dropping off your child, factor in that time. If someone is coming to your house, ask the sitter to arrive a half-hour early so you can finish getting ready. To cover your bases,
consider a backup.
When to Arrive
Plan to get to your destination at least 20 to 25 minutes before your scheduled interview time. This will allow for any unforeseen delays and give you time to go inside, use the restroom, retouch your hair and makeup, catch your breath, and review your notes. Check in with the receptionist, be friendly and gracious, stating your name, who you are meeting, and the time of your interview. If you’re running late, call the office and advise them of your schedule.
After your interview, send a message expressing your thanks and reiterating your enthusiasm for both the company and the job. Follow all these protocols, and you’re sure to make a strong impression.
Lisa McQuerrey has been a business writer since 1987. In 1994, she launched a full-service marketing and communications firm. McQuerrey's work has garnered awards from the U.S. Small Business Administration, the International Association of Business Communicators and the Associated Press. She is also the author of several nonfiction trade publications, and, in 2012, had her first young-adult novel published by Glass Page Books.