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Simple Truths About Handling the 5 Toughest Challenges in a Job Interview

Challenge #3: Interviewing On Short Notice

“Be prepared!” What an overused phrase, but totally on target here because it's your best shot at putting your best foot forward in a job interview when you're contacted on short notice. From the moment you send out your very first cover letter and resume or make that first networking contact, you had better be ready! This means being fully prepared on all fronts:

  • • Have your elevator speech polished, ready to go, and practice it frequently so that it feels and sounds natural (not stilted or over-rehearsed).
  • • Practice role-playing with friends so that you're comfortable answering questions posed in various styles. Have one or more trusted friends take on the role of different personalities such as intimidating, disorganized, negative, and so on.
  • • Have at least one full ensemble ready to put on in a moment's notice (this includes cleaned and pressed clothing, undergarments, accessories, and polished shoes).
  • • Depending on the season and climate, have the appropriate outerwear cleaned and ready to go in a moment's notice.
  • • Dedicate a briefcase or portfolio for exclusive use in job interviews. Fill it with the essentials discussed in Simple Truths About Getting to the Interview and What to Take With You (copies of your job search documents, breath mints, and so on) and keep it in a readily accessible place at all times.
  • • Have a cash stash that includes small bills and plenty of loose change to be kept exclusively for getting you to job interviews (for subway, bus, or cab fare; parking meter or parking garage fees; and so on).
  • • Prepare your telephone interview area and keep it set apart for that purpose.
  • • Make the extra effort to maintain a tidy vehicle interior throughout the duration of your job search. This may take a few extra minutes every day, but when a prospective employer walks you to your car unexpectedly, suddenly it will have been worth all the effort.
  • • Even if you haven't had the opportunity to complete research on your target employers, write out your primary goals for the interview—for example, the key message about your background and capabilities you want the interviewer to understand, and what you most want to find out about the prospective employer.

Especially in these uncertain times, employers and recruiters sometimes need to move quickly, so you should be ready to move quickly, too. Not all candidates who get the sought-after invitation to interview will be available or as prepared as you, so use this as another opportunity to set yourself apart from the competition.

Additional topics

Job Descriptions and Careers, Career and Job Opportunities, Career Search, and Career Choices and ProfilesJob Search, Job Interview Questions, & Job Interview TipsSimple Truths About Handling the 5 Toughest Challenges in a Job Interview - Challenge #1: The Incompetent Interviewer, Tips From The Pros, Challenge #2: Illegal Questions