Before You Arrive.
- Know time, date, location, directions, and whom to ask for.
- Take a professional portfolio binder that holds an 8 ½ x 11 pad of paper. DO NOT take a large gaudy notebook or briefcase.
- Bring a few copies of your resume just in case someone steps in and doesn’t have a copy. If appropriate to the position, also bring a design portfolio, hand samples, etc.
- Research the company; absorb their Web site, news articles, etc.
- Dress Code– You will never go wrong dressing to impress – this means Business Attire NOT Business Casual. Details count: make sure your shoes are shined, hem is sewed, buttons in place. You most definitely can lose an offer by underdressing and giving the impression that this interview was not important enough for you to dress seriously.
- Know your personal accomplishments, statistics, trend of performance over time.
- Memorize five reasons why this client should hire you, i.e., the value you can bring to the organization, etc.
- Memorize five reasons why this position looks attractive and why you would want it.
- Think of your three biggest weaknesses, how you have overcome them and what you learned from them.
- Know how you plan your days, weeks, months, in order to demonstrate that you can plan and organize your time.
When you Arrive
- Be enthusiastic, confident, prepared, professional and definitely on time. Do not show up more than 10 minutes early for an interview – this will throw the office and interviewer off and not begin your interview on a positive note.
- Be professional at all times and in all ways; including making eye contact and being courteous to the receptionist. Remember, everyone you come in contact with is interviewing you.
- Handshake and Introduction— Not surprisingly, many interviews are often “won” or “lost” in the first moments. Be sure to offer a firm (not crushing!) handshake, and this applies both to men and women. Say something such as this: “Thank you very much, Mrs. Smith, for setting aside your valuable time today to interview me for this tremendous career opportunity.”
How to make a great First Impression without Saying a Word.
- Perfect your posture. Aim to sit or stand up straight, but not so straight that you seem rigid and uncomfortable. Pull your shoulders slightly back, engage your core and imagine your head being gently pulled upward by a string.
- Do not cross your arms unless you are in a group. Scientifically, crossing your arms forces you to engage both sides of your brain, making it easier to focus and solve problems. Problem is, when you’re one on one, crossing your arms makes it seem like you’re shutting yourself off. In a group, however, crossing your arms signifies that you’re listening intently.
- Make eye contact, but not too much. This one’s all about balance. A lack of eye contact conveys disinterest, but too much eye contact conveys…that you’re creepy. Maintain steady bouts of contact with the person you’re talking to (shoot for 50 to 60 percent), but look somewhere else when formulating your thoughts. It will seem much more natural than staring into someone’s eyes while you’re thinking.
- Talk with your hands. Studies have shown that talking with your hands improves your thinking process. It also shows whomever you’re talking to that you believe in what you’re saying, therefore making you appear more credible.
- Be a copycat. Mimic the motions of the person you’re talking to. Taking note of someone’s behavior and subtly mirroring it signifies that you’re in agreement or on the same team. If their energy is high, increase yours to match.If their energy is low, level yours off to show you’re of kindred mind and spirit. Talk with your hands if they do. Raise or lower your voice with theirs.
During the Interview.
- Let the interviewer control the interview. If you feel you are “hogging” the interview, you probably are.
- Tie this position into past positions and state similarities as often as you can.
- Give short, positive reasons why you left your last or previous jobs. Never go into negative detail on past companies
- Have your 90-second “elevator speech” prepared, i.e., the infamous, “Tell me about yourself” question often posed while you’re riding up the elevator with the interviewer.
You might say something like this:
“Let me bring you up-to- date on my career. I graduated from Georgia Tech in 1994 with a degree in
chemical engineering. From there, I have 10 years of experience as a process engineer and technical sales
rep. Most recently I was given the opportunity to open a new territory and sold 4 new accounts worth over
$150,000 in a highly competitive market, etc., etc., etc. From your perspective, tell me what it is that you
are looking for in someone to fill this position?”
(Practice this. Ensure that it is no longer than 90 seconds. The dialogue usually will naturally progress from this 90 second
introduction. Make sure that in addition to facts, you mention specific accomplishments that demonstrate you can bring value
to an organization.)
- Be prepared with your own questions This reveals how you think. Indeed, employers often place considerable weight
on what you ask them!
Here are some questions you ought to consider asking:
- Describe the position. What qualities are you looking for?
- What would be the duties and responsibilities? Whom would I be working for?
- What are some of the objectives that you would like accomplished in this position?
- What is most pressing? What would you like to have done within the next 2-3 months? What
projects would I be involved in now and in the future?
- What are some of the longer-term objectives that you would like completed?
- What are some of the more difficult problems facing someone in this position? How do you think
these could best be handled?
- What is the company philosophy on training and personal development? What are the future
opportunities for a person who is successful in this position and within what time frame?
- In what ways has this organization been most successful in terms of products and services over the
- What significant changes do you foresee in the near future?
- What is the market place potential?
- Where do you see the company (or position) going in the next few years?
- Here are some sample “closes” to consider:
- “This is exactly the position I have been looking for, what is the next step?”
- “I am very interested in this position. Are there any concerns that you might have that I could address at this time?”
- “I feel that this is a tremendous match, and I look forward to the next step. What will that be?”
Be sure you get the hiring manager(s) card / email addresses before you leave … That way you can follow up with a Thank You.
After the Interview.
Follow up with “Thank You” letters or emails at the earliest opportunity after the interview.
The most important aspects of thanking someone are speed and thoughtfulness. An email will provide speed, but it also needs to be thoughtful. Sending someone a card in addition will make an indelible imprint in his or her mind that you took the time and made the extra effort (especially because so few people do this). As an added bonus, the snail mail card will arrive days after the interview. This serves as a helpful reminder to the interviewer who might have interviewed a number of candidates for the position.