Five Actions to Ace Your Interview
Congratulations! You landed an interview. Your research, networking, resume-tailoring and clever cover letter writing have paid off. This is your chance to get your foot in the door – literally – and show why you are the best person for the job. Don’t be the guy who screws it up!
On the day of your interview, will you plan to arrive late? Or attempt to make a bad first impression? Probably not, but people do it every day. The good news for you is that most of the mistakes job seekers make are easily avoidable, if you know how to prepare.
When it comes to interviews, a little bit of preparation goes a long way. Here are five of the most common ways job seekers sabotage their interviews and how you can prepare to avoid them:
1. Don’t be the guy who shows up late.
Tardiness is probably the most common, most damning, and most avoidable mistake a job seeker can make. It doesn’t matter if you get lost, stuck in traffic or any other overplayed excuse. While you frantically search for parking, your absence will fill in and make a bad first impression on your behalf.
How to arrive on time, every time:
Timeliness comes down to preparation. Set aside time to review the company name, address, suite number and directions the night before your interview. Store this information in your phone – along with your on-site contact name and phone number – so that it’s ready to go in the morning. Plan your travel to arrive 45 minutes before the interview is scheduled to begin. If you’re early, grab a coffee and enjoy the extra time to prepare. If you spill the coffee on your shirt, you’ll have time to deal with that too.
2. Don’t be the girl who looks unprofessional.
Interviews are designed to assess professionalism. Regardless of the position, industry or company size you are applying for, you will be judged by your appearance, mannerisms and demeanor.
How to appear appropriately polished:
Pay attention to detail. Your interviewer will assume that they’re meeting you with your best foot forward. To ensure that you look your best:
- Dress the part by laying out your outfit the night before your interview. Make sure your clothes are clean and wrinkle-free, and if there’s any ambiguity as to the dress code, plan to wear a suit. Conservatism trumps creativity when it comes to your interview.
- No recycling! Prepare your portfolio with 3 fresh copies of your resume, clean note paper and a non-chewed, non-branded pen.
- Look up, look confident, and smile at those around you from the moment you arrive until after you depart. Your demeanor is on display long before the interview officially begins.
3. Don’t be the guy who doesn’t ask questions.
At some point during the interview, the hiring manager will ask if you have any [more] questions. This is your opportunity to demonstrate your high level of interest in the company and turn the interview into a conversation. Do not say, “No, I think we’ve covered everything,” if you’re serious about the job.
How to ask questions that leave a lasting impression:
Make a list with several thoughtful questions that will help you learn more about the role before you arrive. I recommend the following to my candidates:
1) What are the first 3 things you would need for me to learn or do once in this position?
2) What do I need to do to get an excellent review after my first six months?
3) Who will I be interacting with and what’s their role and history with (company name)?
4) Now that you’ve had a chance to review my resume and we’ve gone through some of the details of my experience, are there any questions or concerns that would prevent me from moving forward in the process?
If they seem positive and don’t have any objections, proceed to question 5.
5) I’m very interested in this position and would love to move forward in the process. What are the next steps and is there anything I can do to help facilitate?
4. Don’t be the girl who asks the wrong questions.
You don’t have an offer yet, so questions regarding compensation, benefits, PTO, vacation and other HR-related issues are presumptuous. Stick to the topic at hand.
How to get the information you need without looking like a chump:
Create a separate list of non-work related questions for follow up. If you’re working with a recruiter, they will get the non-work related information for you on your behalf. If not, follow up with HR directly once you know that the company is interested.
5. Don’t be a dud.
Companies look to hire people who can help their business above all other. But energy and likeability are important too. Your resume and cover letter got you in the door. If you want a job offer, your interview will have to do more.
How to ace your interview:
Applicants who fizzle out during the interview process often fail to demonstrate one of the following:
– Their ability to add value in the position and to the organization
– A culturally compatible personality
– Genuine interest in the specific position and company
List out your key messages before the interview and ensure that each one of these crucial themes is accounted for. If you can demonstrate your value while keeping a positive, personable manner, you should be able to get an attractive offer.
6. Bonus: don’t be the guy who goes it alone.
At PROVEN, we guide our candidates through each step of the Recruitment Process and provide essential night-before-the-interview support. To enlist a local PROVEN recruiter in your city, visit www.proveninc.com/LOCAL.
Have questions or suggestions regarding Interview Preparation? Leave us your comments below!
Managing Partner, PROVEN DC
Dat Nguyen has over 11 years of staffing industry experience and 2 years as a technical analyst prior. For the last 3 years, he has been managing a team of recruiters for a Fortune 500 Government IT Integration/Managed Services firm based in Dulles, VA. Prior to his corporate recruiting management role, Dat was a Market Manager and top individual contributor recruiter at a national staffing firm covering the DC Metro area. He has a background in Business Process Re-Engineering, project management and application/software training which gives him a deep understanding of technical skills and capabilities. Dat holds bachelor degrees in Economics and Psychology from Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, MD and currently resides in Reston, VA.