Your interview day has finally arrived! You are ready but nervous. What should you do? What should you not do? What will happen in the interview? How can you convince the employer to hire you? I know all of these questions are going through your mind but relax….you will be fine. Here are some quick tips to get you through your interview day.
1. Dress professionally – less is more.
This is definitely something you want to prepare in advance. You shouldn’t get up the morning of your interview and be frantically looking through your closet for something to wear. It should be taken very seriously as it is part of your first impression….and most importantly it should be PROFESSIONAL. Decide the night before what you will wear and bring to the interview.
2. Arrive 15 minutes early.
This is to give you time to gather your thoughts just before the interview. Use the extra time in the lobby to look over your notes one last time and observe the atmosphere. Remember, the interview starts as soon as you walk through the door and they are watching you. If you happen to arrive more than 15 minutes in advance, just wait in your car.
3. Turn your cell phone completely off.
The last thing you want to happen is your phone ringing or vibrating in the middle of your interview. So you should turn it completely off or leave it in the car. You don’t want the employer to think that if you’re hired, you’ll be distracted by family and friends calling you all the time.
4. Be nice to everyone you meet.
It is very important that you DO NOT underestimate the receptionist. If you encounter the parking lot attendant or custodian, be nice to them as well. They could have more say in whether you or hired than you may think because they could tell the hiring manager about your rudeness. Plus, if you get hired you don’t want to already have “enemies.”
5. SMILE and have a nice, firm handshake.
You got an interview so SMILE!! You should be ecstatic to be there! Remember, your handshake says a lot about you and it displays your confidence at the beginning and end of the interview. A nice firm grip with 2 – 3 pumps will suffice. If you have sweaty palms, very inconspicuously wipe your hand on your pants or skirt just before you extend it.
6. Let the interviewer be in charge and match his/her style.
You are in the employer’s “territory” so let them be in charge and determine the pace of the interview. Each employer has a different style so you have to figure out what it is and match it. Some may be straightforward and just want to ask you back to back questions and some may have a more laid back approach and be open to small talk. Keep in mind, if they don’t like talking to you in a 30 or 60 minute interview, why would they want to hire you and talk to you everyday?
7. Have several copies of your resume and references (or letters of recommendation) available.
Even if you have already submitted your resume online or emailed it to the employer, bring extra copies anyway. Besides, you may be interviewing with more than 1 person and they each need their own copy. If your resume has changed since you initially submitted it, just let the employer know that you wanted them to have an updated copy. It’s not a bad idea to have your references/recommendations ready because it shows you’re prepared. If you don’t give it to them in the interview, you can always attach them when you follow up (see tip 15).
8. Make eye contact and be mindful of your body language.
Both of these directly relate to your confidence. Generally, you want to make eye contact the majority of the time and occasionally look away. A little trick is to look at the person’s nose or the space between their eyes and it will still look like you are making eye contact. For your body language, make sure you always have a pleasant expression on your face and you’re not slouching or messing with your hair. Try to keep your hands in your lap. Ladies, cross your legs at your ankles if you’re wearing a skirt.
9. Have paper and a pen to take notes during the interview.
This is because you won’t remember everything. It also shows that you are interested in what’s being discussed. Prepared for the interview = prepared for the job.
10. Be conversational and have adequate answers to their questions.
The interview is the only way an employer can tell if you’ll fit into their team. So you want to give them plenty to go on by having adequate answers to their questions – not just 2 or 3 sentences. Think of it this way….if you asked your friend what they did over the weekend and all they said was, “I watched tv and did the laundry.” What would you think? Of course, you would think they were leaving out something and you would want to know more. Don’t leave the employer wanting to know more. Adequately answer their questions by telling a complete story.
11. Be very familiar with the company.
Do adequate research on the company AND the department you will be working in. The key is to identify what they do so you will be able to communicate how you can help. This research will come in handy when they ask, “What do you know about this company?” or “What attracted you to this position?”
12. SELL YOURSELF!!!
If you can do this very confidently, you have accomplished 75% of your goal. Most people are very bashful in this area because they don’t feel comfortable talking about their accomplishments. Actually, the interview and the resume are 2 places where you can brag on yourself and not be seen as arrogant. Your task is to convey your skills and qualifications so employers know they need YOU at their company. Even if you are unsure how to answer a question or if it seems like the interview is going rather badly, stay positive.
13. Have at least 3 questions to ask the interviewer.
I know you’ve been made to believe interviews are one-sided and you have to just answer their questions and that’s it. Erase that from your mind and know that you should ask questions to see if the job is a good fit for you as well. Ask questions about the daily duties, company culture, management style, expectations, current issues (so you can offer a solution on the spot), etc. You can write them down and read them right from your paper. Not having any questions = not really interested in the job.
14. Find out what the next steps are.
You should be confident that you will get to the next steps after the interview, so ask what they are so you will be prepared. It’s that simple.
15. Follow up within 24 hours.
Get the interviewer’s business card to send a thank you letter (or e-mail). If you had multiple interviewers, send a thank you to everyone individually. Mention something specific from the interview so that they remember you and realize that you pay attention and retain information. It’s important to do this in a timely manner because you want them to get your thank you BEFORE they make their final decision.
Take a moment to gather your thoughts before answering difficult questions. It really is okay. You don’t have to respond the second they finish asking you a question. Taking a moment will keep you from saying “um” and rambling as much.