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interview like a pro

5 Key Preparation Tips for Job Candidates

Many people show up for an interview unprepared – on both sides of the interview desk. It is just as important for the the person interviewing candidates to make a good impression on behalf of the company, as it is for the job applicant. In this two part piece, I’ll share some tips for both sides of the interview to be more professional in the interview setting.

For the Applicant:

  1. Be prepared! Show up on time, with a notepad to take notes, 2-3 pens, 4-5 copies of your resume, and any supporting paperwork you submitted with your application (portfolio, letters of recommendation, etc) neatly assembled in a folder. You never know when extra people will want to attend your interview, and it reflects well on you if you are prepared for that. You also want every person in the room to have your resume in front of them. You are there to sell yourself, after all, and having pen and paper  ready shows you are interested in what they have to say.  Having an extra pen for them shows you are someone who plans ahead, which is always an asset. I have had many interviews where the interviewer shows up with everything but a pen, or shows up with nothing in hand. It’s a powerful psychology tool to be more prepared for the interview than the hiring manager!
  2. Research the company in advance! If you show up for an interview with an understanding of the job, but not the company, you’ve told the hiring manager that you lack enthusiasm for what the company is, and you can’t sell them on how you are an asset to the big picture. It is always a great way to make an impression to know a few obscure things to generate conversation and show interest–some trivia about the company history, who sits on their board or who their C level officers are, notable people at the company who are recognized in the industry, etc.
  3. Ask questions! Have 5-6 questions prepared in advance that are specific to the role or the company. You should only ask 2-3 questions, but you want extra’s in case the interview happens to cover some of the questions.  Don’t ever ask about salary or benefits in the first interview! You want to ask questions specific to the company or the role, it’s impact, history, and expectations. It never hurts to also confirm any special needs for the job. For example, if it is a project manager role, you may want to discuss the project management methodology they employ with the company or what software they use to support the role.
  4. Be clean and refreshed! Brush your teeth before the interview. Don’t refresh or apply perfume/cologne with less than an hour until the interview. I always suggest drinking a few glasses of water an hour or so before the interview, so you are hydrated (and will have had a chance to use a restroom before the interview!), and maybe apply a bit of moisturizer to your face, but not your hands. You want your face looking fresh, but you don’t want greasy hands. People think this is odd, but if you go in looking tired, it can be confused as a lack of enthusiasm or interest for the position. Studies have also shown repeatedly that a hydrated brain is more alert.
  5. Be friendly and confident, but not obsequious or arrogant! Many people are suspicious of someone who is a blatant boot-licker or comes across cocky or too pushy. They may suspect that you are not a strong candidate, and therefore have to resort to manipulation of some kind. Be personable, but don’t over-share your personal history. You never know when someone will be offended or upset by something that you say, and it could be used against you subconsciously. Emphasize any traits or personal experiences that show you are an asset. Also, do not share your personal tragedies. While they will most likely sympathize or empathize with you, if they decide you are sharing it as a tactic to manipulate them, you are definitely not going to get another interview or job offer from that company.

Check out Part 1 where I discussed measures interviewers can take to make sure they are interviewing like a pro and increasing their chances of making a great impression upon job seekers on behalf of their company.

What additional preparation tips do you have for jobs seekers? Share in the comments below.

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