By Eric Thorn, Esq.
The Front End
A great interview starts well before you get there. Of course you want to dress well, present a clean and crisp professional image, and arrive on time. Some say that if you get there on time you are already ten minutes late. You may also want to Google your name and look at cleaning up any ill-considered social media posts that an employer may have access to if they check you out on the web. And today, most do. As you can imagine most employers won’t consider posts of photos of you passed out in the bushes right after winning a big chugging contest, or pictures of you reclining at the beach with the caption “I should call in sick more often” as a big plus.
You should also anticipate some of the more common questions; your biggest strengths and weaknesses, product or service knowledge, your previous successes, etc.
A Little Research Goes a Long Way
Before the interview, try to learn a bit about the company that you are applying with. Check out their website and other web sources to learn a little about their history, mission statement, goals, recent awards, and other notable company info. If you know the name of the person you are interviewing with, definitely do some research on them as well. Seeing a picture of them in advance will help you recognize them during the introduction and knowing a little bit about them can make the interview a little more comfortable experience. Being able to recall a company award or professional accolade of your interviewer shows them that you are motivated and believe in preparation.
The Interview – A Good Start
When you walk into the room and meet your interviewer stand straight, look them in the eye and give them a firm hand shake. No knuckle rollers or dead fish. Also say your name in a clear strong voice. If your name is unusual or hard to pronounce help them by enunciating clearly and giving them something that it rhymes with or you can invite them to use your first name or a shortened version you often use. You only get one chance to make that first impression and you don’t want to spend half your time overcoming a bad one. A good impression will leave the interviewer more open to what you are trying to share with them.
Tips and Tools
Make sure you understand the questions they ask you. It’s ok to ask them to explain the question a little bit, if needed. Be prepared with some facts and figures that you can use where appropriate, such as GPA, relevant experience and accomplishments, sales numbers or growth stats from your last company. If applicable, it’s ok to have an information sheet or some figures to hand out if asked about something you are particularly proud of. It’s good to have a bottle or glass of water handy. That way if you are asked a question that you need a quick moment to think about you can say, “that’s an excellent question, excuse me” and then take a sip of water while you formulate your great answer.
The biggest mistake that I see people make during a job interview is when the candidate focuses most of their time telling me how valuable the work experience will be to them and how the job fits in to their long-term career goals.
Knowing what the company’s goals are will allow you to employ a much more successful approach of describing how the set of skills and traits that you bring will help you to excel in achieving the company’s goals for increased sales, happier clients or customers, solving problems, etc.
Most interviewers will ask you if you have any questions so be prepared with a few questions of your own. You may wish to ask what they believe is most important for someone to be successful in the position you are applying for, how they came to be in their current position with the company, or what they like most or least about their current job and working with the company.
When the interview is over thank them, and then just like at the beginning of the interview, stand straight, look them in the eye and give them a firm hand shake. After the interview, make sure to send a well written follow up email or hand written note thanking them and expressing your willingness to answer any other questions.