You got the job interview. Well done! You have managed to stand out from the crowd. Pat yourself on the back and start preparing for your next task. Aside from the obvious rules like iron your shirt, don’t bring up politics, curb your dark sense of humor, and never badmouth anyone, these top recommendations from veteran hiring managers will help smooth out the interview process so you can walk in with confidence and walk out with a job.
Prepare your outfit
A hiring manager told us that she recently wrote off a candidate who was wearing a very short dress.
“She looked nice and it wasn’t offensive, but I feel that if you’re not even making the effort to appear extra professional at a job interview, you’re probably not going to care once you get the job”.
To be safe, always dress a little more formal than the company’s dress code suggests. Some creative jobs such as graphic designer or art director have more casual dress codes, but hiring managers still expect candidates to look professional for the interview. If you are a job seeker who has tattoos, for most corporate job interviews, the prevailing recommendation is to cover up visible tattoos as much as possible. For careers in Tech, you might want to consider wearing something that is more business casual, like cotton chinos and a polo shirt or button-down. Fortunately, if you are applying for a job as an investment analyst, the dress code is obvious: go for the business suit and tie, and opt for colors like black, navy blue, and gray.
Give yourself an extra 30 minutes
Be on time. Plan for every disaster and you will be fine. We surveyed recent interviewees for all the things that went wrong on their way to a job interview and here’s what they shared:
- My train stopped between stations and there was no way to get out and walk to the interview.
- The entrance to the building requires a code which no-one at the company mentioned. It took 5 calls to different extensions to get someone to buzz me in. When I got inside the person doing the interview didn’t apologize or suggest it was their responsibility to make sure I could get in.
- In large office buildings, it can take up to 10 minutes to receive your visitor’s badge. (Also, bring your ID).
- Waze/Google Maps says you only need 15 minutes to get there, and it takes twice that.
It never looks good to be late to a job interview and barring universal bad news such as an earthquake or the like, you will have a hard time bouncing back from this misstep. Arriving with time to spare will ensure that you look organized, considerate, and it will give you time to take a deep breath and relax.
Prepare for the role
Pretend you already got the job and now you need to deliver. Research the company, browse their competitors’ websites, and brush up on the industry. Also, practice interview questions. Recruiters want to know you’re able to anticipate issues, solve problems, and are familiar with the challenges faced by their business. Competitors, barriers for entry, and big name customers are excellent points to discuss as they provide tangible proof of your know-how. Plus, they’ll be flattered, which will always help you create a good impression.
It’s also wise to prepare for some more unique questions: Some of the larger companies are known to posit off-the-beaten-track inquiries. At Dell, for example, candidates may be asked which songs best describe their work ethic. At Zappos, you may be asked to answer this one: “Which superhero would you be and would you dress up at work given the chance”? When it comes to interview questions, it’s best to prepare for the unexpected. Your reaction and ability to think on your feet during the interview will be taken into consideration.
Bring extra copies of your resume
Most recruiters like to have a copy of your resume in front of them during the job interview. They’re likely interviewing many candidates, so a printed resume will help them keep track of your achievements and work history. This will also give you some control over the topics discussed in the meeting. It’s possible other members of the team will join during the interview, and they may not be familiar with your background. Having extra copies ready will make you seem prepared and add to a positive atmosphere. Remember to go through your resume right before the interview, so you’re completely aligned with the written description your interviewer has of you.
Turn off your phone.
Keep it in your bag. That’s it.
Shake hands. Be cool
Shake hands with everyone you meet at the interview. If someone joins in the middle of the interview: if it’s the CEO or the head of the hiring department, finish what you were saying, then stand up and introduce yourself. Otherwise, it’s OK to stay seated. If you’re interested in the position, tell them. You’re not committing to anything yet, but it will show that you’re serious and know what you want, which employers like in candidates. It may even give them that extra push to stop looking through resumes and lock you down.
After the interview
Do send individual thank you emails within the 2 days following the interview. One account executive at an ad firm included a link to a blog post she just had published. It was topical and provided objective evidence of her professional cred. Everyone was impressed and she received an offer shortly after.
Remember, you were chosen for this interview for a reason. This is a chance for both parties to find out more. You both want this to work, so breathe. You got this.
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