Just received a call from a former student who is preparing for her first REAL job (her words). Her question of how to prepare for the job interview that will start her forensic career (again, her words).

So how do you prepare?

These are the BASIC tips you MUST DO to get yourself prepared:

1. Research the department, the city, and the key staff members of the department. Knowing this will give you a better understanding of the department (how many investigators are on staff, do they have specialized units), the city (what are the demographics, population, crime rate), and the department itself (know the names, titles, and bios of key personnel). Story: during one of my interviews I was asked to name the city's current mayor! Of course, I knew the name because I had seen his picture on the wall while waiting to be called in for my interview.

2. Re-read the job bulletin to which you applied. Doing so will familiarize you of the job requirements. This comes in handy when asked 'if you know about the position you applied for' question. In addition, you may have some questions of YOUR OWN about the specific job duties. Remember: if there is an opportunity to ask the oral panel questions, DO IT!

3. Have an answer to one of THOSE questions: Tell Us About Yourself. Make sure you practice answering this one. More importantly, spend time thinking about how to answer this question and spend time writing the answer to this question--your written answer will have many revisions before you settle on the best answer you need to practice saying.

4. Do you have enough copies of your resume? Your professional training certificates? I'm a BIG fan of having a professional portfolio available for you to showcase your experience, skills, and education. Professional portfolios are a visual 'business card' introducing yourself to forensic professionals who have seen others before you and after you. YOU MUST SET YOURSELF APART FROM THE OTHERS (sorry for screaming at you). A portfolio will do just that!

5. Make sure you practice your interviewing skills. Set up mock interviews and invite your friends so they can "interview" you. Your friends will act as the oral interview panel asking you questions. Take this seriously. Practicing will give you the skills to overcome you being nervous during the REAL interview and your confidence will show!

Remember these general tips when preparing for your forensic job interview.

Here's a great checklist: