PROFESSIONAL INTERVIEW TIPS (Face-to-Face Interviews)
You have finally done it….you received a call that you have a face-to-face interviews. Now what? What are the necessary steps you should take to prepare to give a good interview? When you are preparing for your interview, think about how you can help the company – instead of the other way around. Think of your accomplishments and /or strengths and give specific examples. Keep reading for information about professional interview tips.
During an interview, there are definitely some things you should do:
1. Company research
As soon as you have an interview scheduled, do your homework. The first thing is conduct some company research. Why? Because one of the interview questions asked may be “what do you know about our organization”? So, don’t be caught off guard if that question comes up in your interview.
To find out about the company, below are some places you can go:
> Company website
> Social media sites (Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn)
> A current employee
When doing your research, try to find out as much as possible about their:
> Mission and vision statements
> Company’s strengths
> Company culture
2. Prepare your attire
If you aren’t sure what to wear during your interview, part of your company research could be contacting the recruiter to find out appropriate attire for the interview. Over dressing could make you feel out of place during the interview, adding to your stress. It can also send a message you didn’t do your homework.
Your appearance during your interview says everything about you. It’s the first impression you will give those interviewing you as soon as you walk through the door. Whatever you wear, make sure it looks nice and neat.
There are also other aspects to keep in mind about your appearance:
> Have neatly trimmed and styled hair (no wildly colored hair)
> Clean hands and nails
> No cologne or perfume (some people have allergies)
> Nicely fitted clothing (remember modesty is essential)
3. Prepare an elevator pitch
Many times the first question asked in an interview is “tell me about yourself”. In answering that question, there are some things to keep in mind. Therefore, prepare and practice your elevator pitch before the day of your interview.
The premise behind the elevator pitch is if you are on an elevator with a top executive, what compelling things would you tell him or her in that 30 second elevator ride to intrigue them to find out more about you?
For information about how to construct your elevator pitch, watch the below video:
4. Bring copies of your resume
Even though you may have sent your resume in electronically, bring extra copies of your resume with you on quality resume paper. It looks like you have well-prepared for the interview and it’s professional.
Also, having your resume flat in a padfolio keeps your resume intact and professional looking. In case you do have more than one page of your resume, don’t staple or paper clip it.
5. Arrive 10 – 15 minutes early
While you NEVER want to be late for an interview, you don’t want to arrive too early either. Arriving late shows lack of interest and disrespect for other’s time. Arriving too early may make your interviewer feel rushed. Therefore, shoot for 10 – 15 minutes so it gives you an opportunity to catch your breath and relax while not rushing anyone.
6. Do a practice run
You may not be familiar with the area you are traveling to for your interview. Therefore, do a practice run to see where you need to go. Scope out the parking situation so that you are prepared. Get an idea of how long it will take you to get there and allow extra time to account for traffic problems like accidents or congestion.
7. Greet the interviewer(s) professionally
As the interview begins and upon initially meeting your interviewers, greet them pleasantly using their last name, give a firm handshake, and have good eye contact.
8. Prepare a few questions to ask
Almost always you are asked if you have any questions at the end of an interview. Always ask at least one relative question. Remember the research you did for the company? Now is a great time to let the interviewers know you did your research and ask a question around that. For example, you may say “When I was on your website, I see your company opened an international branch in Asia. Are you planning on opening additional offices in that area?”
One thing to keep in mind is that you should not ask questions about salary or benefits. If you talk about those topics at this point of the interview process, it could throw up a red flag to the interviewer and it may be felt you only want the job for a paycheck and not to be a team player. If the interviewer mentions the salary and benefits, then, certainly have the discussion. Once you are offered the position, that is the time to ask about the salary and benefits because you will have a decision to make about accepting the job.
9. Practice answering interview questions. You won’t know all the questions the interviewers will ask you. However, there are many questions to research to practice. Chances are the interviewer(s) will ask you behavior-based interview questions. These type of questions are looking at your past behavior to determine future behavior. A behavior-based question example is: “Tell me/us about a time when you took initiative to solve a problem”. The interviewer is looking for the situation, task, action and result of that particular scenario.
There are also some things you should not do:
1. Bring people with you
Even though you may feel there is strength in numbers, an interview is not the time to bring your family or friends with you. This is the time to come alone.
Keep this in mind if you attend job fairs as well. A job fair is not the time to bring your child with you. It is very distracting to try to balance handling your child and holding a conversation with an employer. If you are having problems with
2. Chew gum
Even though it may be tempting to chew gum to freshen your breath before an interview, restrain from doing so. If you want to freshen your breath, do so before the interview then throw the gum away.
3. Wear cologne/perfume
It may be tempting to wear cologne or perfume before the interview to smell nice. However, be aware that people may have allergic reactions to it. Because of that, it is best to refrain from wearing colognes and perfumes.
4. Bring your cell phone
It is not a good idea to bring a cell phone to an interview and risk the possibility of it ringing during your interview. It is best to leave the phone behind. If a family emergency is occurring at the time and you must have your phone, it is best to let the interviewer know at the beginning of the interview that you are expecting a call and the reason why. That way if the call comes in, you have already explained the situation and it won’t be deemed being rude if you receive and take a call.
5. Speak negatively about your current boss
It is never a good idea to speak badly about your current boss. You never know the situation or if the person knows your boss. If that is the case, whatever you convey can get back to your boss. If that happens, you could find yourself in a bad situation at work.
If you are asked why you are looking for a job, think about how you will answer that question before getting to the interview that reflects a positive answer.
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WHEN DOES THE INTERVIEW START?
If your answer is “as soon as you walk through the company door”…you’re correct! It starts as soon as you get to the company. Some people may think it starts as soon as you sit down and receive your first question. However, don’t think you’re not being observed as you sit and wait in the lobby to be called for your interview. Trust me – the receptionist is watching to see how you represent yourself. Are you talking loudly on your cell phone about how much you partied the night before? Are you slouched down in your chair constantly texting?
Instead of doing those things while you wait, notice who is walking by. Smile and say hello to them. You never know – one of them could be your interviewer. Instead of spending time on your cell phone, quietly run through your elevator pitch or practice answering questions that could be asked during your interview.
BE AWARE OF POSTURE AND BODY LANGUAGE
During an interview, be aware of your posture and body language. Sit up straight and maintain poise. Listen intently with a pleasant expression and good eye contact. Doing this will show you are professional and attentive.
Remember the elements of communication:
> Eye contact
> Body Language
WILL THE COMPANY BE A GOOD FIT FOR YOU?
While keeping all the above tips in mind, also remember you need to access whether the company is a good fit for you as well. One reason to ask questions of the interviewer(s) is to let them know how interested you are. However, you need to find out information to determine if this is a company that you’d want to be a part of as well.
There are many great questions to ask interviewers, but a few are listed below:
1. What are the day-to-day responsibilities of this role?
2. What is your favorite part about working for this company?
3. How does the company measure success?
4. Are there opportunities for growth within the department/company?
5. What are the most challenging aspects of this job?
Now is the best time to engage with the interviewers and ask those questions to make sure you know more specifically about the company as well as the position. Once you know the answers to your questions, you will be able to make the decision if you’d accept the job if given the offer.
ENDING THE INTERVIEW
At the conclusion of the interview, give a firm handshake, have good eye contact and let them know you look forward to hearing from them. Also, ask for business cards of each interviewer. Why? Because within 48 hours, you should send a thank you to each interviewer. What better way to ensure you are spelling their name(s) correctly than with their business card in hand?
Sending an email thank you is fine. However, following up with a nice thank you note card is even better. Since people don’t obtain hand delivered mail much anymore, it would make you stand out in the crowd.
Obtaining a face-to-face interview is an accomplishment. However, there are key professional interview tips to keep in mind. You want to convey you can make a positive contribution to the organization and that you will be a compatible member of their team. By being prepared, you can come across as being professional and give a great first impression.
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