(To see Part 2, click here.)
Congratulations! You’re halfway there! We’ve discussed resumes/cover letters, reputation management, phone interviews and a few ways to portray yourself as the optimum candidate. Today, we are going to dig a little deeper. Once you’re done reading this post, you’ll know all about:
- How to prepare for an in-person interview
- What proper business attire looks like
- How to behave during an interview, and
- What small things you can do to further boost your chances of getting the job
Fair warning: this post is going to be very intense and informational. So sit back, grab a snack and let’s take a ride through Get-a-job-now Land. *clears throat* Once upon a time…
…there was a giant, magical kingdom, where all the job seekers prepared for the most celebrated day of their time: meeting with the emperor, also known as — The Employer.
Pre-interview preparation plays a big role in getting the job. The first thing you’ll want to do is some more LinkedIn stalking. And not like the stalking I talked about in Part 1, but some REAL LinkedIn stalking. This is where you’re actually going to search things about your interviewers. Find out how long they’ve been with this company. Where did they work before this? What are their hobbies? Do they own blogs or other websites? Start from LinkedIn and branch out. Why, you ask? Because these are the bits of information that you are going to insert into the conversation as you’re going through the interview. Your interviewers will be so impressed that you took the time to learn about their professional experience.
In addition to doing interviewer research, make sure to do some company research, as well. You never know what questions the interviewer might throw at you, so keep yourself prepared by going through the company website, researching the industry, viewing clients (if applicable) and reading over the company’s mission and values. Again, your interviewer WILL. BE. IMPRESSED.
After the jobseekers prepared the land, they noticed that the clothes they wore were not good enough to wear in The Employer’s presence. So they used their magic beans to buy business attire.
There are so many rules and regulations when it comes to business attire. No loud colors. No tight pants. You have to wear a navy blue suit because a black suit shows arrogance…blah blah blah. I could go on and on. But in the infamous words of Kimberly “Sweet Brown” Wilkins from Oklahoma City, “ain’t nobody got time for that.”
Just keep it simple. Do not try to dress like a model from an Express catalog. Dark slacks and a button-down shirt is the way to go. (This is for both men and women.) Men, be sure to add a nice tie. Ladies, add a pretty necklace and you’re done. See? Simple.
Ladies – If you don’t have slacks to wear, make sure whatever dress you wear has a collar that is close to your collarbone and a hem that is close to the knees. Always. If you’d like to read more about what is and isn’t appropriate in the workplace, please click here.
Fellas – Please iron your clothes the night before and double-check for large stains. No interviewer will take you seriously with last week’s spaghetti on your collar.
The big day finally came, and the job seekers remembered what the monks taught them. The job seekers had a responsibility, and that responsibility was to The Employer. The Employer must be satisfied at all times. Because of those helpful monks, the job seekers had everything they needed.
I’m going to be your monk today, OK? So first and foremost, be neat and be organized. Any documents you bring should be kept in a folder or a small binder. If you have a bunch of loose items, keep them tucked away either in your pocket, your folder or, for the ladies, a small purse. These are just some of the small things that make you look like a responsible candidate who’s ready to work.
Three things you will absolutely need on the day of the interview:
- MULTIPLE copies of your optimized resume (click here to review what an optimized resume is)
- Work samples
- Business cards, if possible (if you don’t have these, then make sure to include your contact and/or social media information on your resume)
Again, this all goes back to being prepared. You may think you’re only interviewing with one person until you show up to the conference room and three people are sitting there. Keeping business cards and multiple copies of your resume on hand shows the interviewers that you are proactive and organized. If you don’t have work samples, get them NOW. I can’t stress enough how important this is. Yeah, your resume talks the talk, but can you walk the walk? In other words, give your interviewers proof that you’re as awesome as your resume says you are.
Of course, I understand that some people are in a line of work where it’s extremely difficult (or nearly impossible) to get work samples, such as accounting, human resources and defense contracting, to name a few. But this is where you should heavily rely on your past experience to get you through. If you can’t come with tangible samples, then you better have at least three or four really good stories at your disposal. These stories should elaborate on your skills, teamwork, integrity…you name it. And most of all, these stories should be verifiable, in case your interviewer wants to make a call to one of your references.
For the actual interview, here are some things to remember:
- Answer the questions fully, but keep your answers relatively brief. No one likes a person who talks too much about himself.
- Give your interviewers visual cues that you are listening to them. Nodding your head, eye contact, smiling when they smile…these all help make you look like an attentive candidate.
- Use the information you researched to fill in the conversation gaps. When there’s an awkward silence, or your interviewer is fiddling through the computer or shuffling through some papers, mention how you were impressed by the company’s earnings last year and you would love to be a part of a company that places such a high value on transparency and integrity. See what I did there?
- Take notes while your interviewer is talking. Even if it’s not worth writing down, do it anyway. A note-taker shows attentiveness, responsibility, diligence…need I say more?
- Come to the interview with questions, preferably ones about the company’s work and/or events. For example, What part did your department play in acquiring ExxonMobil earlier this year? Being inquisitive shows interest. And being interested says, “I want this job really bad.”
- Try to wait until the third interview (or when you get offered the job) to ask about your potential salary. However, if your interviewer brings it up to you or asks you for a pay range, don’t be afraid to answer. Throw out a number that you think someone of your caliber deserves. If it’s higher than what they want to offer you, then chances are they’ll let you know right then and there. And you can adjust or negotiate as you see fit.
After a successful meeting with the emperor, the job seekers ran into the enchanted forest, where they found magic wands. They used their new wands to grant themselves one final wish: jobs with The Employer.
At the end of your interview, don’t forget to thank the interviewer for his or her time. Always remember: the interviewer did not HAVE to interview you. So always express your gratitude.
Use your business cards to exchange information with your interviewers. Leave them with an impression. Even if you don’t have business cards, always get your interviewers’ contact information and give them a way to contact you.
Sending a thank-you message post-interview is another small way to ensure your chances as a top candidate. As far as how you want to send the message, that’s for you to decide. My advice for this is as follows: try to understand the ambiance of your potential employer. If it’s a children’s theater or a small agency, mailing a physical card might be best. However, if it’s a large corporate company with thousands of employees and chains of command, an email would do just fine.
The very next day, a messenger from the emperor’s palace arrived at their village, and all the job seekers of the land received jobs with The Employer.
And they all lived happily ever after…
(To see Part 4, click here.)