I am frequently surprised at how many candidates are ill prepared for their interviews. I have heard it all – from an attorney interviewing in a pink suit and hot pink nails (true story), to candidates failing to ask any questions during the interview, or even candidates forgetting to conduct their due diligence on their interviewers (including forgetting their interviewers name), and even the occasional candidate who forgets or mispronounces the name of the firm they are interviewing with. The job market is simply too competitive for qualified candidates to be missing out on job opportunities because of their poor interview etiquette and preparation. Thus, I have created the following interview tips that I like to share with my candidates prior to an interview – I encourage you to peruse these suggestions and to incorporate them into your own interviewing strategy. Remember, interviewing is an art form and can always be improved upon!
Stating the obvious:
- Please wear a suit – Preferably pick a black or gray suit and err on the conservative side when it comes to style.
- Start off with a firm handshake.
- Always make good eye contact.
- Thank each person for taking time out of their schedule to meet with you – Do this at the beginning AND the end of the interview.
- Have extra copies of your resume, a writing sample, and a list of references on hand. Even if you are not asked to produce them, volunteer to provide these materials as it will make you appear well prepared.
Be prepared to articulate why you might be interested in making a job transition, what interests you about that employer specifically and the particular position for which you are interviewing, and what transferable skills you have for said role. Make sure to do your due diligence on the interviewers – this includes becoming thoroughly acquainted with their bios and backgrounds (don’t forget to look on LinkedIn).
Personality and enthusiasm are the two most important things during the interview process! Make sure you let everyone you meet with know how excited you are about this opportunity. Actually say to them “This position is exactly what I am looking for.” At the end of the day, employers often chose the candidate that they “like” the most; that person is often the one who exhibits the most enthusiasm during the process and is the easiest to connect with from a personality standpoint.
Things you should NEVER do on an interview:
- NEVER discuss salary, work hours, benefits or commute (unless of course the employer brings it up) – When candidates bring up these topics it makes them look like you are not focused on the actual opportunity at hand.
- NEVER speak negatively about your current or previous employer.
- NEVER be late – If you are running late please contact the firm directly to let them know you are delayed and do this before the start of the interview.
- Also, please refrain from contacting the potential employer via LinkedIn until after the interview process has been completed and the employer has made a final decision regarding your candidacy. Everyone has a different idea about appropriate social media etiquette and I have seen candidates lose out on potential opportunities because of perceived social media faux pas.
Good interview questions:
- What is the most challenging part of this job?
- What qualities are you looking for in the candidate that will fill this job? – Then articulate how you possess these qualities and give concrete examples of these qualities in action.
- What do I need to do to get this position?
- Is there anything about my background that would make you think that I am NOT qualified for this position? – Ask this as your last question AND rebut the concerns they may have about your candidacy. Remember you want to turn a negative into a positive!
Finally, try to get a business card from each person you meet so you can send / e-mail a thank you note.
While this list of tips is not all-encompassing, it will definitely elevate your interview game and will hopefully optimize the impression you make — and maximize your chances of a positive result.