You only get one chance to convince an employer to hire you. Avoid playing the woulda, coulda, shoulda game by following these 20 interviewing rules.
- Arrive Ahead of Time: Get good directions and plan to arrive at the place you’re being interviewed at least 30 minutes early so you won’t be 30 minutes late. You never know if there will be a lot of traffic or how hard it will be to find a parking space.
- Give Your Appearance a Double Check: Go to the restroom in a nearby café or one in the lobby of the company’s building so you can straighten yourself up before greeting the interviewer.
- Be Cordial to Everyone You Meet: The person interviewing you might end up being the same person you let the elevator door shut on during your way up to their office. Briefly greet and be nice to everyone at the company because you never know just who has a say in your hiring.
- Make a Good First Impression: Consider it showtime when employers first spot you; from that very moment they are sizing you up. Given this, it’s best to stay off the cell phone while waiting to be called in for the interview. To keep yourself busy, read the company’s literature or go over the questions you have for the employer.
- Be Respectful of the Employer: Don’t forget to whom you’re talking. Greet the people interviewing you with their last name until they tell you otherwise. Leave the slang at home and turn the cell phone off or on silent—not on vibrate.
- Watch Your Body Language: Your demeanor should exude confidence and enthusiasm, which can be shown in various ways, including a firm handshake, eye-to-eye contact, good posture, and a sincere smile. Definite don’ts include biting your lip or nails, slouching in your chair, excessive note-taking, watching the clock, fiddling your hands or feet, and looking at everything else in the room but the interviewer while talking.
- Have Extra Copies of Your Resume: You may be required to interview with more than one person. Being able to hand them a crisp resume demonstrates your professionalism and thoughtfulness.
- Think Before You Speak: Always make sure you understand a question before you go about answering it. People can tell when you’re running off at the mouth while trying to remember what you were asked. Ask for clarification if you don’t completely understand a question.
- Answer Questions Completely: Try not to give simple yes or no answers. One of your goals is to show how well you communicate with others.
- Stress the Skills You Can Offer the Company: Know the exact skills an employer is looking for and stress that you have these skills and enjoy using them. Also, talk about any other skills you have that are not required for your position, but that you feel will make you more attractive to an employer, such as bilingualism or public speaking.
- Stress Your Ability to Learn New Skills Fast: If there’s a skill you lack that an employer asks about, stress your ability to quickly learn that skill, possibly giving examples of how you’ve learned fast in other situations.
- Stress Your Positive Personality: Communicate with the interviewer how easy you are to work with, how you can see the silver lining in any cloud, and how you’re so very flexible, etc. The employer is looking for someone who current employees will get along with.
- Talk with Pride About Your Accomplishments: Most employers believe that past performance is the best indicator of future performance. Make them realize how valuable you are by talking about accomplishments you’re proud of, be they through old positions, internships, volunteer work, or hobbies.
- Be Prepared for Tough Questions: While most interview questions are to be expected, some interviewers may surprise you with a curve ball. An employer knows when they’ve asked a hard question and probably just wants to see how you’ll react. Impress them. When asked a question that makes you say “hmmmm,” stay calm, take a few moments to think of a good response, and try your best to answer the question as if it didn’t faze you.
- Tell Them Why You Want the Job: Don’t let the interview come to an end without telling the person interviewing you why you want the job and what it is that you like so much about the position. This further demonstrates your enthusiasm and that you aren’t just applying for the paycheck.
- Have Any Work Samples Ready to Show: Be ready to whip out work samples you’ve brought for the employer to review. You shouldn’t have to search for anything, and if you do, it makes you look unprepared. Don’t let the interview end without showing the employer your work samples, even if he or she didn’t ask to see them.
- Show Your Enterprising Nature: Demonstrate to the employer that you can handle any job and how resourceful you are by relating stories of how you’ve handled sticky or tough situations very well.
- Don’t Undermine Yourself: Never talk negatively about yourself or talk about what you can’t or won’t do, no matter how insignificant you think what you’re saying is.
- Don’t Badmouth Anyone: Never badmouth a past employer or your former co-workers—regardless of how comfortable you feel while talking to someone interviewing you.
- Leave a Great Lasting Impression: No matter how good or bad you think the interview went, the show isn’t over until you’re out of the employer’s sight. Be as cordial and enthusiastic at the end of the interview as you were at the beginning. Communicate with the employer that you are genuinely interested in the position and that you’d very much like to work for the company. Make sure you shake the hand of everyone with whom you’ve interviewed. Take time to tell them how much you appreciate being interviewed, to find out when you should hear from them, and to wish them a great day.
Following Up After the Interview
Sending a thank-you note to your interviewer is a good practice. It shows courtesy, respect, and that you really want the job. Although you can and should send a formal note of thanks via email, doing so by mail as well will likely score you more bonus points because people rarely do that these days. Within a day after the interview, mail a typed letter on resume paper in a matching envelope. Thank the employer for the opportunity to interview for the position, and reiterate your interest in working for the company.
If the people who interviewed you have not contacted you when they said they would, then give them a call. Let them know that you’re calling to check on the status of their hiring process and that you’re still very interested in the position.
Sample Thank-You Letter
Dear Mr. Seymour Johnson,
It was a pleasure meeting you and your colleagues yesterday during my interview for the business analyst position within Perry International.
The interview strengthened my interest in the position and in working for such a dynamic, internationally recognized consultancy. I am confident that my qualifications and experience, particularly my familiarity with your current systems, fit well with the job requirements and I’m certain I could make a positive contribution to the company from day one. In addition, my strong analytical skills would benefit the new direction the company is taking.
I look forward to hearing from you regarding my candidacy for the position. Should you need further information from me, please don’t hesitate to call me at 657-462-3245.
Again, thank you for the interview and for your interest.