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An interview is your first face-to-face meeting with a prospective employer. First impressions are indelible, so you want to be sure you make a good one. Check that: a great one! With the right advance preparation, you can strike the perfect balance of self-confidence, poise and common courtesy – and ensure you leap this first, crucial hurdle.

Do your research.

Conduct thorough research in the days leading up to your interview. Learn as much as you can about the company, the position, and your interviewers.

  • Get as much detail as possible. Start with the company’s website and careers page. Expand your search to include Google and social media. Learn the organization’s growth patterns, market position and current business challenges. Look for pain points addressing current and future needs, where your skills and contributions would provide the ideal solution.

Dress the part.

First impressions are formed within 30 seconds, so you need to give interviewers an immediate positive image.

  • Try to learn the company dress code ahead of time. Generally, wear a conservative suit for management and higher-level interviews or firms that adhere to a more formal standard every day. Otherwise, women should opt for a conservative blouse and skirt or dress pants, and men for dress pants with a button-down shirt and tie. Find out if there are special requirements; for example, steel-toed shoes for factory jobs.

Mind your body language.

Act as professionally as you dress. Proper body language helps set and maintain the right tone.

  • It starts with a smile, a warm greeting and a handshake. This goes for everyone you meet. About that handshake: It should be firm but not too hard. Keep your palm slightly up, allowing the other person’s hand to cover yours. This is a subtle gesture that conveys respect.
  • A few more tips: Maintain eye contact. Sit up straight and be attentive. Keep your hands above the desk or table and below your collarbone. You don’t want to appear overly excited, which can be off-putting to interviewers.

Have your own questions ready.

It goes without saying that you should prepare for questions you expect interviewers to ask. But also have a list of questions to ask them. In addition to helping you decide if the job is the right fit for you, this further demonstrates your interest.

Follow up like a pro.

Conclude your interview with as much savvy as you had when you came in. Say a warm, sincere thank you and shake hands. Follow up with a handwritten note to everyone you met, within one or two business days. Thank them for the opportunity to meet with them and mention any specifics you remember about the experience.

  • Tip: It helps to jot down notes as soon as you get home.

A professional career coach from PrideStaff Modesto can guide you through resume preparation, interviewing, negotiating and any or all the steps involved in your successful job search. In addition, we have access to a broad range of positions where your unique skills can be put to the best use in areas including IT, finance, customer service, legal support, healthcare, and production and distribution. Contact us today to learn more.

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