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Creating Your Job Interview Cheat Sheet

It’s not really cheating, it’s a checklist to make sure you’re on track and staying focused before and during the interview. Preparing a sheet will help you feel prepared and confident. This is not a sheet to be memorized or checked during the interview, but an aid to remind you of the key facts you want to remember – a kind of mind map.

Cheat Sheet Contents – Prepared before the interview

  • Job Posting – “What they are looking for.”
  • Your qualifications – “What you have to offer.”
  • Research the company; the industry, and the competition.
  • Prepare your “60-second personal statement” – “Tell me about yourself”
  • At least five success stories ready to answer “behavioral interview questions.” (“Tell me about a time when…,” or “Can you give me an example of a time….”)
  • A list of 10 questions to ask the interviewer about the job; the company; the industry.
  • Research salary datasalary.monster.com – know your worth.
  • Your salary needs are based on your living expenses – your bottom line.
  • Check with your references for consent to use their name – how they prefer to be contacted.

Check off list before you leave for the interview

  • Appearance – check yourself in the mirror – part of your confidence will come from looking good.
  • Hair – combed and neat
  • Clothes – check for spots/wrinkles – strings hanging
  • Shoes – appropriate to the occasion and shined
  • Stockings (for pantyhose wearers) – no runs

Items to carry to the interview

Folder with important papers

  • Several copies of your resume on good paper
  • Copy of your references (present only if asked for)
  • Pad of paper to take notes (notes are optional)
  • Directions/map to the interview site
  • Answers to the 10 most common interview questions

Tell me about yourself.

  • Why did you leave/are you leaving your last position?
  • What do you know about this company?
  • What are your goals?
  • What are your strengths? What are your weaknesses?
  • Why do you want to work for this company?
  • What has been your most significant achievement?
  • How would your last boss/colleagues describe you?
  • Why should we hire you?
  • What is your salary expectation?

Try the automated “Tell Me About Yourself” online tool to help create your personal statement.

Upon Arrival

  • Arrive early, but do not enter the building until 10 minutes before your appointment.
  • Review your preparation stories and answers.
  • Go to the restroom and run cool water on your hands and the insides of your wrists to cool your hands down. Check your appearance once again.
  • Announce yourself to the receptionist in a professional manner (Don’t underestimate the receptionist’s opinion).
  • Stand and greet your interviewer with a hearty (not bone-crusher) handshake.
  • Smile and look into the interviewer’s eyes – note the color.


During the Interview

  • Be as enthusiastic as your personality will allow – bringing energy to the interview will help the interviewer and you.
  • Try to focus on the points you have prepared without being too rehearsed and stiff.
  • Relax and enjoy the conversation. Learn what you can about the company and whether you would like to work there.
  • Ask questions and listen, not only to what is said but try to read between the lines.
  • At the conclusion of the interview, thank the interviewer for his/her time and find out what the next step will be.

After the Interview

  • As soon as possible after leaving the building, write down what you are thinking and feeling. Let it all flow and then put it away. The interview is over. Do not dwell on the situation.
  • Later in the day, or the next day, look at what you wrote and assess how you did. What you will do differently next time – what worked and what didn’t.
  • Sit down and write a follow-up letter. Remind the interviewer of the qualities you would bring to this position. Address any concerns or issues that surfaced during the interview. This is another chance for you to sell yourself.