Congratulations, you’ve landed a job interview! Speaking as a former recruitment project manager and having been through an extended job search myself, this is where the real work begins.
It’s time to sell yourself to the prospective employer, but in a way that you don’t come across as needy or desperate (no matter if you are, or not!) Here are some helpful tips from my time in the job-hunting trenches:
- Look up the company and do some research! Nothing will turn a prospective employer off faster than talking to an applicant that is obviously clueless about the company. You don’t have to memorize everything Google shares about them, but you should have at minimum, a general idea of who they are and what they do.
- Know who is interviewing you! If you have the name of the person(s) interviewing you, look them up on LinkedIn.com! In this age of networking, it’s almost criminal to NOT check out the people interviewing you on LinkedIn. There is a good chance you could be connected to them, which can be a significant advantage if someone they know and respect also knows you, and will put in a good word on your behalf!
- Dress for Success and Respect the Process! Many companies embrace a business casual dress code, or a casual dress code in the office. Just because the office wears jeans, does not mean you should show up in jeans to the interview (unless you are specifically told to do so.) When you dress for an interview you tell people that you respect the process. You are selling yourself, so why less than your best? Take a shower and don’t wear too much cologne/perfume..you don’t want your scent to linger in their office longer than you do! Don’t show up with chewing gum in your mouth! Take a lint roller to your clothes. Make sure your finger nails are tidy and trim. Brush your teeth – if your interview is during the middle of the day, throw your toothbrush in a baggie and keep it in your bag/briefcase. Don’t eat anything too strong smelling either!
- Practice your answers beforehand! Expect some curve ball questions, and practice for them. It’s ok to be nervous on the interview, it’s expected to some degree, but if you’re so nervous that you can’t communicate, you’re not doing yourself a favor. Practicing your answers will be a big help in mitigating that nervousness!
- Understand the fine line between arrogance and knowledge of self-worth! Few things are more of a turn-off, than an applicant who comes across cocky or arrogant, when the employer is not entirely sure the applicant is worth hiring. Be confident, not arrogant!
- Expect the unexpected! Maybe you think you are interviewing with one person, but you walk into the interview and discover it’s a panel interview. Maybe the COO or CEO decides to sit in on your interview. Expect unusual questions or scenarios. A few years ago, I was interviewing with a very exciting technology company for a Project Management position, and was asked to answer this question “Please describe the food that best describes you, and why.” That was certainly not the question I was expecting, but I answered it like a pro!
- I recommend taking 5-10 copies of everything to each interview. I have a friend who likes to ask applicants for copies of their resume or letters of recommendation in the interview. She never ceases to be shocked by how few applicants bring a single copy, let alone extras! Make sure they are neat copies, paper clipped or stapled together if your resume is more than 1 page. Keep them in a nice folder so the copies are crisp, and presentable when you provide them to others.
- Have a few thoughtful questions prepared to ask! It shows that you’ve actually put thought into the company and position. DO NOT ASK ABOUT MONEY OR BENEFITS! It is extremely inappropriate to ask about these until an offer is made. Your questions should be about the company or the position, not compensation/benefits.
- Have a notebook/planner and a few pens to take notes with. Write down the important things being shared, or the things that you will want to ask questions about when it is appropriate to do so. Have extra pens, just in case you, or your interviewer have a pen go dry (everyone likes someone who is prepared).
- The non-verbal cues are just as important as the words you say. Make eye contact, but not overly aggressive. Don’t offer a bone crushing handshake. Sit with good posture. Control your facial expressions, especially if you hear anything that you were not expecting or dislike. Smile! Don’t be afraid to laugh at a quip, but don’t bray like a donkey or snort like a pig.
- Don’t forget to breath. It will help keep you cool, calm, and collected!
- When the interview is over, thank everyone for their time. Job interviews are big deals. They impact the life of the person interviewing for the job, but they also impact everyone that the position at hand will interact with. It is a big investment for everyone involved, so thank them for letting you have a chance to talk to them about it.
- Ask for business cards before you leave the interview. These are good for networking, and to keep as future contacts. You also need the correct spelling of someone’s name if you’re going to send them a thank you card for the interview!
These are the things I keep in mind when I land an interview. Having been on the other side of the table, I also know how much recruiters appreciate candidates who are thoughtful and prepared. I’ve always been complimented that I interview very well, so I hope these tips help you do the same!