Congratulations: you’ve landed an interview for your dream job! You worked hard to get this far, and the last thing you want to do is make the wrong impression when you first meet your prospective employer. Your resume has provided a glimpse into your brand … but now, the real work begins.
Prepare in Advance
Your goal is to make your personal and professional brand memorable for the right reasons. When you start your interview on the right foot, you’ll be able to face the tough questions with more confidence and self-assurance.
- Research the organization and your interviewers. Learn as much as you can, not only about the company and its products or services, but also about the working environment, dress code and culture. Google your interviewers, so you’re familiar with their background and interests. With the plethora of social media available, there’s no excuse for going in “cold” when it comes to research preparation.
- Be on time. In fact, be 10 to 15 minutes early. Then you can relax and compose yourself prior to your interview. It’s a good idea to take a trial run shortly before the actual day, around the same time as your interview. Then you can avoid unexpected mishaps like traffic jams.
- Dress the part. Keep your attire professional and conservative. Take this a step further by having everything neat and organized. Copies of your resume and reference list should be easily accessible, so you don’t have to rifle through your bag.
At the Scene
You’re a pro. Let it show from start to finish.
- Be courteous to everyone you meet. This means everyone you speak to in person or on the phone, from the point of first contact with a company until you leave the premises. Many employers specifically ask front desk attendants to report back on the demeanor of interviewees, and this likely plays a role in hiring decisions.
- Find a connection. After initial introductions have been made, make a connection with your interviewer. Your previous research should help you find a commonality that will set a smooth tone and help you establish a relationship. Or, look for a diploma on the wall or a photo on the desk that reveals something about the person. (“Oh, you went to USC. I’m a Trojan myself …”)
- Tell compelling stories. As you answer questions, be prepared with memorable stories to demonstrate your experience and expertise. Practice them ahead of time, so they sound genuine and not rehearsed. Be sure they include relevant statistics and specific examples of your past accomplishments as they relate to the job.
- Never be negative. Don’t complain about previous employers or past work experience. An employer will be turned off immediately. Be careful and be positive.