Interviews remain one of the most anxiety-inducing aspects of the job search. Once the resume is in order and applications completed and submitted, the interview, or more specifically, the interviewer, is the last bastion between a job seeker and the position.
Even before a job seeker arrives, a million decisions need to be made. What should I wear? Should I bring a resume? Multiple copies? Should I show up early or right on time? How firm should my handshake be? Should I chew gum? A mint? Where will I dispose of the mint? Should I bring coffee? Reading materials? A list of questions? Should I ask questions? Should I bring up salary?
The answers are not always so obvious. You should bring a resume in a folder. In fact, bring a few. It can help you during interview questions. You should show up ten minutes early; early enough that you have time to get your bearings, but not too early that you are a bother to the hiring authority. You should approach with a smile and a firm handshake. You should not chew gum.
DRESS Dress professionally: not too casually, and not as if you are going to a wedding or gala. Don’t wear jeans or flip flops. Avoid loud or garish prints. Lay off the cologne or perfume; the hiring manager doesn’t want to smell you before they see you. A business suit almost always works, for both men and women. Tasteful accessories can help show your personality without negatively impacting the interviewer, but keep it simple and streamlined. Present your most polished self.
BEFORE When you arrive for the interview, if you need to wait, sit quietly and review your resume. You could also take this time to go over a list of your accomplishments and career goals, strengths and weaknesses. How can you benefit this company? Avoid fidgeting or rifling through your belongings. Appear collected, calm, and confident. You never know who may be watching, and if you strike the interviewer’s colleagues as strange or anxious, it may hurt your chances.
DURING While you should know generally about the company for which you would like to work, you don’t want to overburden the interview with operational questions, especially if the interviewer may not know the answers. Keep questions specifically about the position for which you are interviewing. A few examples: “What would a typical day look like in this position? What tasks would I be responsible for?” These lead to further discussion where you can interject experiences from your own career. Discuss past experiences and employers in a positive light, even if they weren’t so positive. Always display how you can help the company. You should only discuss salary after you have obtained the offer. If the interviewer asks for salary, the best course is to say you would like to receive compensation commensurate with the position and your experiences.
FOLLOW UP Hiring authorities and recruiters are constantly barraged with applications. They may tell you they’ll let you know next week, but the truth is, they may not have even contacted all the candidates yet. If you haven’t heard anything by the appointed time, call and ask if you are still being considered. Also, don’t forget the power of the thank you note. If you send a note to the hiring manager thanking them for their time and consideration, it could go a long way.