An interview? Don’t panic – have a plan!

Your heart skips a beat as you disconnect the call. A combination of nausea and elation hit you as you turn to your partner wide-eyed, incredulous.

“I got the interview” you say quietly as if by saying it louder you’ll somehow make it untrue.

As you grasp the reality, you grin and laugh. “I got the interview!” you repeat while performing a tiny jig at the kitchen bench.

Your partner laughs delightedly with you as she joins you in dance; two silly reactions enveloped in joy. “Yay!” she cries happily. “Your dream job! That’s incredible!”.

As you both lapse into thoughtful silence, she looks at you. “So, she says, “What next?”

What next?

The words seem to echo around you. You’ve never considered that scenario. Heck, you’ve been looking for a job forever! It’s all been about getting to this point—the resume so carefully developed, the cover letter, the networking, the blogging. But now, indeed, “What next”?

Like everything that means something in your life, you should have a plan.

Your references. This is good place to start as it may take a while to catch past colleagues and managers and find time for a coffee and a chat. Your references need to know what type of job you’re going for and you need to jog their memories on instances in the past that qualify you for this role now.

While you’re discussing these details, you need to ask. Is there something that he or she may say or recall that could hurt your candidacy? Now is the time to get this out in the open. If an individual has this power, you need to reassess… do you still want him or her to be a reference?

A few years ago, a client told me how a reference with a propensity for letting her mouth run before her brain was actively engaged, sabotaged his candidacy. To a question about confidentiality, the reference had replied: “John did really well until that incident where he was suspected of leaking information to the press. Of course, I never knew exactly whether he did it or not, but management sure thought he did!”

Suffice to say, if your reference doesn’t quite get what she’s being asked to do, it is time to find a substitute!

Google. Have you searched for your name on the Internet? If you see your last Facebook status or a Twitter comment sent at 3am when you were a tad tipsy, delete these items now. If you can find them, the new employer or recruiting firm will find them too. Look for off-colour remarks or photographs on Flickr or MySpace that you would not like your next employer to see and remove them.

Do you have a Linkedin profile? These score quite prominently on Google. If you want to push some ill-advised “digital dirt” that you cannot remove further back on the Google results, create a Linkedin profile. Essentially, you want to counteract any questionable material with a consistent, professional brand that instils confident and oozes professionalism. Recruiters or employers may have already checked the Internet, but just in case they haven’t, take steps to fix the situation. Whoozy is a good way to keep track of your online profile.

Next: Research the company. What do you actually know about your dream job? Do you know about the company culture, what they do, where their head office is, what they do make or sell, their history, their people? What do you know about their leaders? Who is their Chief Executive Officer? Are they a listed company? What do you know about their share price? If you cannot answer any of these questions, it is time to educate yourself. Interviewers are incredibly impressed when candidates take the time to research and show knowledge of the company. Google is your friend for doing this as well as Linkedin.

Have you been given the job description for your dream job? If you’re in a leadership role you may want to consider developing a strategy document that you take with you to interview. Show how you meet the criteria of the position and what you plan to do in your first 30, 60, 90 days on the job. It’s a smart, professional idea that sells and positions you as a problem solver with initiative. If you don’t know where to start, the service WinTheView provides step-by-step instructions for preparing such a document; right through to printing it out and advice on when and how to present it. (Ask me).

Dress to Impress. What do you have to wear to the interview? The old advice of wearing clothes one step up for the position you want to secure, is still good. Smart business attire never fails to reinforce a professional image. Make sure your suit is conservative, your tie is straight, your shoes are shined and if you cross your legs, the socks are not bright pink with Tweety Bird emblazoned on the ankle! For women, watch the hemline of your skirt (rehearse sitting in front of a mirror and see how much thigh is exposed when you sit comfortably), keep the jewellery and makeup to a professional day-time standard, and wear shoes that don’t make you totter clumsily because the heels are too high.

Are you well versed in personal etiquette? Don’t leave them wilting in your wake. Ensure no overpowering fragrances or after shave. Don’t smoke before you walk in. No garlic for dinner the night before. Be nice to be near. Don’t walk into the office slurping a coffee or check your mobile for Facebook updates, tweets or texts.

Finally, just how long has it been since you interviewed last? Consider investing in a coach who is expert in interviews. He or she will be able to advise you on the techniques needed to avoid self sabotage and interview paralysis and help you with the pitfalls of negotiating a salary. If you can afford it and this job means something to you, do it. It will be a worthwhile investment of time and money.

Have you done all that?

Take a big breath then, straighten your shoulders and put on your winning smile.

It’s time to get your dream job.

I am a member of the Career Collective. A group of experienced career professionals who blog on specific topics every month. Look for our posts on Twitter #careercollective. Meantime, check out other member articles on this topic–links at the bottom of this article. Please see other discussions on common job search blunders and possible solutions from Career Collective members below.

How to Stand Out in a Job Interview @heathermundell

Avoid These Reference Mistakes @DawnBugni

Unspoken Secrets of Job Interviewing Prep: How Your Nonverbal Presentation and Behaviors Impact the Impression You Make @KatCareerGal

Prep for Interviews Now: Snuff out the Elephant in the Room Later! @chandlee << not working yet

What Should Job Seekers Do Now to Prepare for an Interview @erinkennedycprw

Take a Ride in the Elevator Before You Interview @barbarasafani

Are You Ready for the Elephant in the Room? @WorkWithIllness

“Tell Me About Yourself” (Oh, Yikes!), @KCCareerCoach

The job interview as a shared narrative @WalterAkana

Prepare your references for job search success @Keppie_Careers

No Pain No Gain In Job Search and Interview Prep @ValueIntoWords

Job searching? Take a cue from the Boy Scouts @LaurieBerenson

Preparing for Career Success Starts with Interviewing the Employers @JobHuntOrg

Posted by Gayle Howard

Gayle Howard

I love words, respect their power and I’m passionate about using language that evokes an immediate and positive reaction from employers. Every resume I create, every coaching session I provide, every snippet of advice offered aims to help executives and leaders of tomorrow promote their authenticity in ways no smart employer could dare resist. I like to be first, just as I want my clients to be first past the finish line. I was Australia’s first Master Resume Writer, Certified G3 Coach, Certified Personal Branding Strategist and Certified Job Loss Recovery Coach—credentials still held by just a handful of professionals worldwide. An author, with additional works published in twenty-plus international career books, recipient of more than twenty-seven resume writing awards, and a specialist in creating unbeatable value propositions for senior executives for more than two decades, is your guarantee of excellence.

  • http://twitter.com/negotiatesalary/status/13837920679 John Bestdeal

    Sit Down and Panic. The Interview is Yours | The Executive Brand Blog http://bit.ly/cJ1Lqw

  • http://twitter.com/negotiatesalary/status/13837920679 John Bestdeal

    Sit Down and Panic. The Interview is Yours | The Executive Brand Blog http://bit.ly/cJ1Lqw

  • Pingback: Tweets that mention Sit Down and Panic. The Interview is Yours | The Executive Brand Blog -- Topsy.com

  • http://twitter.com/onefte/status/13880024990 One FTE

    #onefte featured today on @GayleHoward 's blog, Sit Down and Panic. The Interview is Yours. -> http://bit.ly/a3bhfQ

    • http://www.cheap-lacostepoloshirts.co.uk lacoste shirts

      I love the cartoons! Thanks for keeping it light yet dense with resources!

  • http://twitter.com/onefte/status/13880024990 One FTE

    #onefte featured today on @GayleHoward 's blog, Sit Down and Panic. The Interview is Yours. -> http://bit.ly/a3bhfQ

  • http://twitter.com/jobsearchsrvcs/status/13888949350 KathyBitschenauer

    Just read "Sit down and Panic. The Interview Is Yours" by Gayle Howard, at http://bit.ly/cJ1Lqw. Good advice on PLANNING your interview!

  • http://twitter.com/jobsearchsrvcs/status/13888949350 KathyBitschenauer

    Just read "Sit down and Panic. The Interview Is Yours" by Gayle Howard, at http://bit.ly/cJ1Lqw. Good advice on PLANNING your interview!

  • http://twitter.com/gaylehoward/status/13879756257 Gayle Howard

    Updated my blog! Sit Down and Panic. The Interview is Yours:
    Your heart skips a beat as you di.. http://bit.ly/a3bhfQ

  • http://twitter.com/gaylehoward/status/13879756257 Gayle Howard

    Updated my blog! Sit Down and Panic. The Interview is Yours:
    Your heart skips a beat as you di.. http://bit.ly/a3bhfQ

  • http://twitter.com/career_camilla/status/13944752424 Camilla vandenBroek

    RT @GayleHoward: Sit Down and Panic. The Interview is Yours http://bit.ly/aEtfcA ..Great tips!

  • http://twitter.com/career_camilla/status/13944752424 Camilla vandenBroek

    RT @GayleHoward: Sit Down and Panic. The Interview is Yours http://bit.ly/aEtfcA ..Great tips!

  • http://twitter.com/kccareercoach/status/13971188702 Meg Montford

    New from #careercollective Sit Down and Panic. The Interview is Yours @GayleHoward http://tinyurl.com/24pthnc

  • http://twitter.com/kccareercoach/status/13971188702 Meg Montford

    New from #careercollective Sit Down and Panic. The Interview is Yours @GayleHoward http://tinyurl.com/24pthnc

  • http://twitter.com/workwithillness/status/13974590757 Rosalind Joffe

    RT @KCCareerCoach: New from #careercollective Sit Down and Panic. The Interview is Yours @GayleHoward http://tinyurl.com/24pthnc

  • http://twitter.com/workwithillness/status/13974590757 Rosalind Joffe

    RT @KCCareerCoach: New from #careercollective Sit Down and Panic. The Interview is Yours @GayleHoward http://tinyurl.com/24pthnc

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  • http://twitter.com/keppie_careers/status/13991216806 Miriam Salpeter

    An interview? Don't panic – have a plan! by @GayleHoward http://bit.ly/dBiE6A #careercollective

  • Pingback: Avoid these reference mistakes | The Write Solution

  • http://twitter.com/keppie_careers/status/13991216806 Miriam Salpeter

    An interview? Don't panic – have a plan! by @GayleHoward http://bit.ly/dBiE6A #careercollective

  • http://twitter.com/mjmcoach/status/13992308933 MJMCOACH

    RT @Keppie_Careers: An interview? Don't panic – have a plan! by @GayleHoward http://bit.ly/dBiE6A #careercollective

  • http://twitter.com/mjmcoach/status/13992308933 MJMCOACH

    RT @Keppie_Careers: An interview? Don't panic – have a plan! by @GayleHoward http://bit.ly/dBiE6A #careercollective

  • http://www.write-solution.com Dawn Bugni

    Gayle –

    As you know, my Career Collective post this month dealt with references. It stuns me to hear the cavalier approach people take when handling their references — much like your example here.

    As you so beautifully pointed out, this is an all-encompassing process with many pieces leading to success. The search, like a chain, is only as strong as it’s weakest link. Taking time to address everything you listed takes effort, but the payoff in the end is big. One neglected link and the chain breaks; the process screeches to a halt and the job is lost. I understand job search in crazy global economy is difficult, but most things worth having take effort.

    Excellent information.

  • http://www.write-solution.com Dawn Bugni

    Gayle –

    As you know, my Career Collective post this month dealt with references. It stuns me to hear the cavalier approach people take when handling their references — much like your example here.

    As you so beautifully pointed out, this is an all-encompassing process with many pieces leading to success. The search, like a chain, is only as strong as it’s weakest link. Taking time to address everything you listed takes effort, but the payoff in the end is big. One neglected link and the chain breaks; the process screeches to a halt and the job is lost. I understand job search in crazy global economy is difficult, but most things worth having take effort.

    Excellent information.

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  • Pingback: Take a Ride in the Elevator Before You Interview | CareerSolvers

  • Pingback: Are you ready for the elephant in the room? | Working With Chronic Illness

  • http://www.bestfitforward.com Chandlee Bryan

    Gayle,

    This is a brilliant post. I’ll RT on Twitter, and am going to flag it as a post to mention later in my blog!

    I love the comprehensive approach you’ve taken to this question–a great primer for the first-time interviewee.

    All the Best,
    Chandlee

  • http://www.bestfitforward.com Chandlee Bryan

    Gayle,

    This is a brilliant post. I’ll RT on Twitter, and am going to flag it as a post to mention later in my blog!

    I love the comprehensive approach you’ve taken to this question–a great primer for the first-time interviewee.

    All the Best,
    Chandlee

  • http://dbcs.typepad.com Heather Mundell

    What a great A-Z guide on interview preparation! You didn’t leave a thing out. Job seekers should just print this post and go for it. Great resources, too!

  • http://dbcs.typepad.com Heather Mundell

    What a great A-Z guide on interview preparation! You didn’t leave a thing out. Job seekers should just print this post and go for it. Great resources, too!

  • http://twitter.com/careersherpa/status/14030428598 Hannah Morgan

    Funny & full of info! RT @Keppie_Careers: An interview? Don't panic – have a plan! by @GayleHoward http://bit.ly/dBiE6A #careercollective

  • http://twitter.com/careersherpa/status/14030428598 Hannah Morgan

    Funny & full of info! RT @Keppie_Careers: An interview? Don't panic – have a plan! by @GayleHoward http://bit.ly/dBiE6A #careercollective

  • http://www.careersherpa.net career sherpa

    Gayle:
    Wow, your post is jam-packed with information! Wonderful. I love the cartoons! Thanks for keeping it light yet dense with resources!

  • http://www.careersherpa.net career sherpa

    Gayle:
    Wow, your post is jam-packed with information! Wonderful. I love the cartoons! Thanks for keeping it light yet dense with resources!

  • http://twitter.com/erinkennedycprw/status/14163876761 ErinKennedy, CPRW

    #interview? Don't panic! Have a plan. via @GayleHoward http://bit.ly/dBiE6A #careercollective

  • http://twitter.com/erinkennedycprw/status/14163876761 ErinKennedy, CPRW

    #interview? Don't panic! Have a plan. via @GayleHoward http://bit.ly/dBiE6A #careercollective

  • http://twitter.com/resumeservice/status/14170895899 Rosa E. Vargas

    RT @Keppie_Careers: An #interview? Don't panic – have a plan! by @GayleHoward http://bit.ly/dBiE6A #careercollective

  • http://twitter.com/resumeservice/status/14170895899 Rosa E. Vargas

    RT @Keppie_Careers: An #interview? Don't panic – have a plan! by @GayleHoward http://bit.ly/dBiE6A #careercollective

  • http://twitter.com/unicareers/status/14227268253 Liz Koblyk

    RT @GayleHoward: An interview? Don't panic – have a plan! http://bit.ly/aEtfcA

  • http://twitter.com/unicareers/status/14227268253 Liz Koblyk

    RT @GayleHoward: An interview? Don't panic – have a plan! http://bit.ly/aEtfcA

  • http://twitter.com/umflintsom/status/14246379655 UM-Flint SOM

    Job Tip: RT @UniCareers: RT @GayleHoward: An interview? Don't panic – have a plan! http://bit.ly/aEtfcA

  • http://twitter.com/umflintsom/status/14246379655 UM-Flint SOM

    Job Tip: RT @UniCareers: RT @GayleHoward: An interview? Don't panic – have a plan! http://bit.ly/aEtfcA

  • http://twitter.com/jobhuntorg/status/14264364045 Susan P. Joyce

    Great advice! RT @GayleHoward: An interview? Don't panic, have a plan! http://bit.ly/aEtfcA #interviewing #jobsearch

  • http://twitter.com/jobhuntorg/status/14264364045 Susan P. Joyce

    Great advice! RT @GayleHoward: An interview? Don't panic, have a plan! http://bit.ly/aEtfcA #interviewing #jobsearch

  • http://twitter.com/lockard7/status/14265208732 Rob Lockard, SPHR

    RT @JobHuntOrg: Great advice! RT @GayleHoward: An interview? Don't panic, have a plan! http://bit.ly/aEtfcA #interviewing #jobsearch

  • http://twitter.com/lockard7/status/14265208732 Rob Lockard, SPHR

    RT @JobHuntOrg: Great advice! RT @GayleHoward: An interview? Don't panic, have a plan! http://bit.ly/aEtfcA #interviewing #jobsearch

  • http://twitter.com/madalinauceanu/status/14265673282 Madalina Uceanu

    RT @JobHuntOrg: Great advice! RT @GayleHoward: An interview? Don't panic, have a plan! http://bit.ly/aEtfcA #interviewing #jobsearch

  • http://twitter.com/madalinauceanu/status/14265673282 Madalina Uceanu

    RT @JobHuntOrg: Great advice! RT @GayleHoward: An interview? Don't panic, have a plan! http://bit.ly/aEtfcA #interviewing #jobsearch

  • http://twitter.com/dbrcareer/status/14266776008 Debbie Benami-Rahm

    RT @JobHuntOrg: Great advice! RT @GayleHoward: An interview? Don't panic, have a plan! http://bit.ly/aEtfcA #interviewing #jobsearch

  • http://twitter.com/dbrcareer/status/14266776008 Debbie Benami-Rahm

    RT @JobHuntOrg: Great advice! RT @GayleHoward: An interview? Don't panic, have a plan! http://bit.ly/aEtfcA #interviewing #jobsearch

  • http://twitter.com/ellkell/status/14270989273 Ellie Mixter-Keller

    RT @JobHuntOrg: Great advice! RT @GayleHoward: An interview? Don't panic, have a plan! http://bit.ly/aEtfcA #interviewing #jobsearch

  • http://twitter.com/ellkell/status/14270989273 Ellie Mixter-Keller

    RT @JobHuntOrg: Great advice! RT @GayleHoward: An interview? Don't panic, have a plan! http://bit.ly/aEtfcA #interviewing #jobsearch

  • http://twitter.com/umflintsom/status/14297350779 UM-Flint SOM

    Job Tip: You landed the interview! Now what!?! Develop your interview plan. http://ow.ly/1N2yT

  • http://twitter.com/umflintsom/status/14297350779 UM-Flint SOM

    Job Tip: You landed the interview! Now what!?! Develop your interview plan. http://ow.ly/1N2yT

  • http://twitter.com/ala_joblist/status/14301083146 ALA JobLIST

    RT @GayleHoward via @JobHuntOrg: You finally got an interview? Don't panic, have a plan! http://bit.ly/duwb81 #interviewing #jobsearch

  • http://twitter.com/ala_joblist/status/14301083146 ALA JobLIST

    RT @GayleHoward via @JobHuntOrg: You finally got an interview? Don't panic, have a plan! http://bit.ly/duwb81 #interviewing #jobsearch

  • http://twitter.com/monstercareers/status/14364695155 Monster Careers

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  • http://twitter.com/marysevinsky/status/14382643042 Mary Sevinsky

    RT @CareerAdvMoney: MonsterCareers: An interview? Don’t panic – have a plan! by @GayleHoward http://ht.ly/1MG2e:

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  • http://twitter.com/jobsatlogica/status/17318318464 Logica Jobs

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