Big Meeting or Interview? Consult this Checklist for Success

Nov. 3, 2005
If you’ve got a job interview or business meeting, sweating the details is essential. Here’s a handy checklist to make sure things go right in the first 30 seconds and beyond.
Are you ready for that interview? Will your "elevator pitch" take your career up or down?Do you have a big meeting or job interview coming up? Remember that people judge you by what they see, hear and sense. In the first 30 seconds of contact — the time it will take you to make your “elevator pitch” — people will form opinions about your economic level, your trustworthiness, your social position, your level of sophistication, your social background, your success in present and current endeavors, your character and your future. And they’ll decide if they like you.Those are some pretty major decisions to make in 30 seconds or less. So what can you do to be certain you are prepared to put your best foot forward? Some of this stuff sounds so simplistic that it could be insulting, but many of us operate all too often on autopilot and we may not be as prepared as we should be.Here are some steps to ensure that you can make a positive impression and that you are ready for business when you walk out that door.The night before:
  • Look at your schedule to see who you are meeting with, where you are supposed to be, and at what time. You can’t afford to be late or in the wrong place. Double- and triple-check this information.

  • Make sure that you have emergency contact info, addresses and even directions. Don’t assume a cab driver knows where you’re going.

  • If you are traveling by air, reconfirm your reservations. Check to make sure your flight is still on time.

  • Pack extra glasses, tissues, aspirin, cough drops and any other medication you might need in your attache or briefcase.

  • Double-check that you have enough cash, the proper forms of identification, credit cards, itinerary before you leave home.

  • Check your clothes the night before. Make sure everything is clean, no loose buttons or hems coming out. Get a back up outfit ready in case of emergencies. If it's new wear it around the house for a little while to ensure you are comfortable in it.

  • Organize your briefcase, laptop, file folders and presentation materials.

  • Be sure you have the right paperwork for your upcoming meetings You want to look accomplished and prepared when you are in your meeting.

  • Have copies of handouts or other materials readily available.

  • Make sure you have your cell phone, and that its charged.

  • Make sure you have plenty of business cards.

  • What’s your plan B? Think of something, just in case something goes wrong or the meeting is cancelled.
Personal grooming:
  • Make sure you have the right accessories for a subtle fashion statement. Remove body piercings and cover any visible tattoos.

  • Forget mini or micro skirts, tee shirts and other unprofessional attire. Wear the right shoes. No flip-flops or super high heels. Overdressing is always fine. Underdressing is not.

  • Eliminate distracting fashion statements such as overlong, ornate fingernails and exotic hairdos.

  • Tone down the perfume or cologne. Use subtle makeup. It’s not a date.
The big day:
  • Organize your thoughts and practice your 30-second elevator pitch.

  • Have some interesting small talk prepared to warm up a cold introduction or to get a dialogue going. If you like, choose something from the headlines of USA Today. (NOTE: Pick a non-controversial topic.)

  • Think about why you are there in the first place. What is the goal you hope to accomplish today?

  • Check your attitude. In a bad mood? Lighten the moment with a joke to yourself.
You can influence someone's perception of you with the right attitude, tools and behavior. Just remember, the first impression is usually a lasting one.
About the Author

JoAnn Hines | Resident Career Expert