Candidates interviewing with a company for the first time often ask if I have any basic pointers for them. I’ve put together this quick overview that you can read the night before the interview to maximize your chances of getting an offer.
First of all, MAKE SURE YOU ARE PREPARED. That means read the job description, research the company, make sure you are well groomed and dressed your best going into the interview. Arrive 20 minutes early in case there’s unexpected traffic, walk in exactly 10 minutes early in case you want to do a “once over” in the mirror, and bring a portfolio with copies of your resume and any questions you want to ask that you are worried you’ll forget. If you are nervous, practice smiling and introducing yourself in the mirror at home until you can do it naturally.
YOUR GENERAL APPROACH is to (1) SMILE AND RELAX, (2) be enthusiastic and excited about the role and opportunity, (3) “sell yourself” by speaking in terms of what you can do for them, not the other way around, (4) keep a very positive attitude (i.e., don’t say anything negative about current or past bosses or employers), and (5) build a rapport with each interviewer.
WHEN ASKING QUESTIONS, keep in mind that there are 2 objectives. One is to find out for yourself exactly what kind of company, role, culture, and situation you are getting yourself into. The other objective is to convey to the interviewer(s) that you know exactly what you are getting yourself into. If your interviewers believe you are qualified, they know you are fully aware of what you are expected to do, and you tell them you want the job and are excited about it, they are going to be more confident that you are a match and that they aren’t going to have any problems motivating you to perform.
MAKE SURE YOU ARE PREPARED FOR THE DREADED BEHAVIORAL QUESTIONS before you go into the interview. Behavioral questions are tough not because they are tough questions, but because our brains are not designed to retrieve information that way. It’s like when someone asks you where you want to go for dinner or what movie you want to see and you either can’t think of anything or it takes you 20 minutes to come up with something acceptable. It’s the same with behavioral questions so make sure you are armed with answers to a few scenarios in advance.
MAKE SURE YOU ARE PREPARED TO ANSWER SALARY QUESTIONS. Talk to your recruiter and make sure you are on the same page going into the interview in case they ask you the question.
At the end of the interview, get business cards and EXPRESS GRATITUDE for their time and consideration and follow up with each interviewer by sending a THANK YOU NOTE. It is best to put a hand-written note in the mail that same day so it arrives the day after the interview. If you don’t have time to send a hand-written note, an email will suffice.