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Advice / Job Search / Interviewing

“Can You Come in for an Interview—Tomorrow?”

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Klaus Vedfelt/Getty Images

As a recruiter, I’m constantly calling people for interviews. Since I have clients who need positions filled immediately, I often ask candidates to come in as soon as possible—sometimes even the next day. I also remember being on the job hunt myself a couple of years back and getting called for an interview to be held that very same day!

If you’re a job seeker, you shouldn’t be alarmed by these surprise job interviews—in fact, you should be prepared. And having been on both sides of the desk, I’ve learned a thing or two about how to get ready. Here are a few pointers for how to handle last-minute job interviews with ease, all based on mistakes I see people making all the time.

Always Have Your Resume Ready

One of my biggest pet peeves is when applicants don’t come in with a hard copy of their resume. I know I called you in at the last minute, but it’s part of the deal—and having a resume on you is pretty elementary if you’re a job-seeker. Even if you’re called in that day and don’t have time to run home, it only takes a few minutes to swing by Kinko’s and print out a couple copies. (On that note, make sure you have every version of your resume saved in your email or a Google doc, not just on your desktop at home.)

Have a Spare Outfit Ready to Go

Along similar lines, you should always have a few clean, professional outfits at the ready in case you’re called in for an interview. Even if you have one go-to interview suit, accidents happen and clothes need to be dry cleaned—and you don’t want to be caught without it for a last-minute interview. (Though, if you’re really in a bind, you can always hit up a one-hour dry cleaner.)

Know What You Applied For (and With Whom)

I sometimes call—or even interview—people who have no idea what they applied for. Not good.

Yes, it can be hard to remember exactly what you applied for, especially if you’ve been sending your resume out to several places, but you can avoid this moment of sheer embarrassment by keeping track of the applications you’ve sent out. Keep a list of the jobs you applied for handy, including the job title, company, hiring manager’s name, any other key details. (There are several online applications that can help you do this, such as Applymate.) That way, when you get a call from “Cindy from Google,” you won’t be scrambling to figure out what job she’s talking about.

Research, Research, Research

Always, always do your research before going in for an interview. Just because it’s the last minute doesn’t mean the hiring manager will cut you any slack. Besides, Google can hook you up in a jiffy.

Better yet, have a go-to interview prep guide that will help you outline all the info you need to know about a company and job in case of a surprise interview. Monster has a great guide to the basic info you should know, or check out our All-in-One Interview Prep Guide.

Get Your Dates Straight

This seems like a small detail, but it’s one of the most important things you can do. It’s a major red flag to recruiters and hiring managers when you don’t remember what year you got your bachelor’s or started or left your various jobs.

So, even if you don’t have a lot of time to prepare, spend a few minutes before the interview glancing over your resume and making sure you memorize the dates. Believe me—it will ensure you don’t get dismissed in the first five minutes.

Brush up on Your Manners

As a former receptionist for an employment agency, I can attest to how many people screwed it up for themselves because they were rude to me. You don’t know how much power the receptionist actually has, and that’s just one example of why you should make sure your manners are impeccable—even if you’re late, frazzled, or stressed over a last-minute interview.

Simply Hired has an awesome blog post on how to be courteous during a job interview. I know this may seem like common sense, but as the old saying goes “Common sense ain’t so common.” Courtesy goes a long way when you’re interviewing for a job.

Last-minute job interviews may give you less time to prepare, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t still bring your A game. At a time when impromptu interviews are becoming more common, being prepared for anything will ensure you rock it in your job hunt.