Most job seekers are so happy to receive an invitation to an interview they seldom think beyond going in to answer a few questions. The truth is you need a strategy.
It would help if you determined your desired outcome. You need to know what the company needs and how to present your value as the most viable candidate. Your mission is to help the interviewer visualize you in the job delivering services and products.
Start By Being Prepared
Arrive armed with intelligence about the company, its services, the industry, and specific needs or gaps. That alone allows you to have a relaxed, confident conversation. Next, know what you want to convey about your expertise that matches the needs of the company.
You probably think you only have to arrive on time with copies of your resume. However, you have glossed over some essential steps. Namely:
Get your body and mind in shape. Interviewing can be nerve-wracking. You will need your stamina to be at an optimal peak; meaning, proper nutrition, fully rested, and in good physical condition. Should you miss any of those points, your brain could be foggy, off its mental sharpness, and you could leave the interview wishing you had answered questions differently.
Let’s start in the parking lot. If the location is unfamiliar, do a dry run at the time of the day of your appointment. Traffic may be different at various times. Be aware that you are possibly being observed from the time you drive onto the lot. Arrive ready to walk in. Also, note that everyone, from the receptionist to the employee who gives you directions, might be asked their impression of you. Whatever you do plan to arrive just 15-minutes before your appointment, not 30-minutes or more. Of course, you have a couple of printed copies of your resume in hand, in case someone else joins in the interview. Turn off your cell phone – even better leave it in the car.
Look like you are from central casting. Dress like the organization’s culture. Look like you are already one of the employees with particular attention to grooming details. Everything about your appearance and hygiene should communicate your seriousness and professionalism at the appropriate level for the position.
For you, the mission is to make a favorable impression that educates the interviewer about your expertise and helps them visualize you fitting productively into their culture. The interviewer’s mission is to select the best candidate for the specific vacancy who could contribute to the profitability and delivery of services without risks. Both of you seek a mutual commitment. Both of you have a vested interest in making the right decision.
People make decisions when meeting new people in roughly 60 seconds. Give a firm handshake and good eye contact. Please smile and listen for names when introduced. The interviewer will lead the conversation. Pay attention to actively engage in the exchange. After the social amenities that allow you to establish rapport with the interviewer, express your enthusiasm for the position. Have a short story about your passion for the industry or the company and what intrigues you about the job.
Deliver your best presentation – your “Ted Talk.” Review your background first. Identify your accomplishments and successes that relate to the job. Talk about current or past contributions and competencies that show how you made a difference, in quantitative terms, if possible. Be succinct. Don’t ramble.
“In my current position, I manage 7 physical locations with 150 direct reports. Last year sales for my department increased by 45% due to new strategies I introduced in 3 previously untapped markets.”
Go with the Flow
Your goal is to make a memorable impression, get to the next phase of the selection process in pursuit of an offer. Of course, you have questions about the company and the position; focus on discovering any specific needs or skills that will ensure success in the job. Remember, this is a comfortable yet stimulating exchange that allows you to share your abilities and personality.
The wrap-up. Think about summarizing what you have learned in the interview, if there are information gaps – ask questions. Get a business card if you need contact information to follow up. Be sure you have the correct spelling of names and titles. In the end, express your sincere interest in the job, if that is true. Thank the interviewer for their time. Ask about the next step in the selection process. Give a firm handshake and direct eye contact.
I’m happy to have a conversation about helping you prepare for your next interview or discuss how my career management services can help you “market your brilliance.” You can contact me or set up a free 15-minute telephone consultation.
Download this free checklist to help you remember these recommendations when getting ready for your next in-person interview.