Interview preparation guides and blogs are not exactly a fresh idea, but a fresh reminder and perhaps a few new ideas never hurt. I’ve got some do’s and don’ts that are part of my regular interview prep coaching. Some ideas are as old as time (or myself) and some are updated a bit for the 21st century.
SOME OBVIOUS BUT OFT-OVERLOOKED ESSENTIALS.
DRESS FOR SUCCESS. It is almost impossible to be overdressed for an interview. Standard fare for men is a business suit, gray or blue, no periwinkle, brown, purple or garish patterns. White or blue dress shirt – please make sure it is clean and ironed. A red, gold, or blue tie, perhaps spiced a little for personality but try and avoid cartoons, messages and the like. If you don’t own a suit, a blazer and dressy slacks or chinos can work for many occasions. Don’t forget the shirt and tie.
For women, a business suit, skirt or slacks type, with a pressed shirt or blouse. Pants/skirt and a blouse can work if they are ‘professional’. A dress, not too short nor too long/formal, can also be appropriate.
Polish your shoes. Avoid extra jewelry, perfume, cologne, hats, unless any of these things are part of your cultural/religious needs.
If you’re looking for restaurant work, retail, trades, you can probably get away with nice pants and a polo or button down….There are always exceptions.
BE ON TIME. Arrive 15 minutes before your interview, NEVER late. Never too early, you are imposing. Take traffic and weather into account – Perhaps plan on arriving 30 minutes ahead but DO NOT go in until 15 minutes before
GOOD HYGIENE. Enough said!
PREPARE FOR YOUR INTERVIEW
Take time to research the company – Understand their history, what the do/make/service. Employers want someone who has taken the time and show interest. Ask for an itinerary.
Research the interviewers on LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter. Understand their careers.
Go over the job description in detail.
- Prepare answers to establish your strengths vis-à-vis the requirements
- Be prepared to answer your weaknesses as well – If you don’t have a particular skill you can relate to a time that you previously conquered the unknown.
- Give thought to why you want THIS job. Where you see your career headed.
- Explain any movement you’ve had in the past. If your career has previously included more robust positions be ready to explain why you would consider ‘a step back’.
TO THY OWN SELF BE TRUE – AND TO YOUR INTERVIEWER AS WELL
Do not embellish (lie). Don’t add duties, titles, degrees or responsibilities that you don’t have.
Bring a couple copies of your resume.
Write down some thoughtful questions. These should be questions about duties, culture, career path, management style – about the job and the company. Do not ask about income, benefits, time off, etc. on the first interview.
Bring a nice portfolio or a legal pad and a working pen, maybe two. Take notes when appropriate. Not EVERYTHING – just what is reasonable.
Listen well, let the interviewer finish their question. Pause. Make sure you understand the intent of their question - If you don’t, ask for clarity. Don’t prepare your answer while they are speaking – If you have a brilliant idea make a note so it’s not taking space in your head and you can listen.
Answer questions with detail but do not ramble nor get tangential.
DO NOT try and figure out what answers you THINK they want. Be genuine and honest and thoughtful with your answers.
Ask how you did.
Ask what additional information or detail they need.
Ask about next steps.
Ask for the job if you want it.
Try and relax and enjoy yourself!