You Only Get One Chance to Make a First Impression!

Basic preparation for a job interview is fairly easy.  You need an error-free, updated resume noting your accomplishments rather than a laundry list of job responsibilities.  It should be no longer than two pages.  You must dress and act professionally, and show up on time.  Sounds pretty easy - right?  We find, however, that the intangibles can become very challenging and sometimes one small mistake can mean the difference between an offer and a rejection letter.

Really get your head in the game with these tips:

Research, Research, Research is the best thing you can do to leave a lasting impression on a potential employer.  The resources are at your fingertips and you have no excuse for going into an interview unprepared. 

Go to the company's website and read about the company.  It will always impress an interviewer if, for example, you can say something like, "In researching your firm, I find that sales increased by XX percent year over year.  Is that attributable to A, B, and C?"  This will show the interviewer that you did your homework and are well prepared. 

Go to your interviewer's LinkedIn page to find any connection you may have with him/her.  We recently sent two candidates to interview for the same position.  Both candidates were similarly qualified, but one candidate went to the same college as the interviewer and that candidate got the job. 

Did your interviewer ever work for a company that you worked for?  Did you ever live in the same state? Do you like the same sports?  It could be anything - anything that will create a comfortable, and therefore memorable, conversation between you and your interviewer.

Do a Dry Run to ensure you know exactly where the office is located, how you need to negotiate the parking situation, and give yourself extra time to get through security. The last thing you want is to arrive at an interview flustered in any way.  Do your preparation and homework in advance, then all you have to concentrate on the day of the interview is the interview itself!

Arrive Early and possession-free on the day of the interview. Too many people arrive at an interview with a supersized Starbuck's and cellphone in hand.  Never make the mistake of having your phone out or the ringer on during an interview.  Bring as little as possible to your interview: multiple copies of your resume, a portfolio with notes and questions, and possibly business cards if applicable to your position.  That's all you really need. 

Body Language tells an interviewer a lot about you without a word being spoken. How you are feeling can be seen through your posture, hand gestures, eye contact, etc.  Someone who sits up and maintains a strong posture displays confidence.  Do not fidget or play with your hair.  Concentrate on the task at hand and do not let that concentration wane.

Eye Contact is important. Make sure that you're looking at the person you're meeting with, and engage with them.  Make sure that you speak clearly and concisely, and that you notice their body language.  If you're taking too long to get to the point, you'll notice that the interviewer will start to lose interest and that their eyes will wander.  Oftentimes, a busy interviewer will interrupt you.  Remember, stay focused.

Never Argue With or Demean the receptionist or any other employee you meet in an interview setting. You must be prepared to do whatever is asked of you, including completing an application or forms, or testing of any sort.  Never comment negatively or have an adverse reaction, as this will always get back to your interviewer. 

Typical First Interview Questions Prepare yourself with responses to questions your interviewer will likely ask.  Typical questions can include:

  • What is your most significant career accomplishment to date?
  • What unique qualifications do you bring to the position that other candidates don't?
  • Where can you add value to our firm?
  • What is your most admirable quality?
  • On what quality might you improve?

Be Prepared With Questions of Your Own prior to any interview. Nothing turns off an interviewer more than a candidate who, when prompted, asks no questions at the end of an interview.  On that portfolio you took into the interview, jot down several questions you might ask which will show that you did your homework, are interested in the job and are knowledgeable about the firm.  Questions you might consider include:

  • If you could create the ideal candidate for this position, what would that candidate look like?  (This will give you a good idea of how you compare to the type of person the interviewer has in mind, therefore giving you a good idea if you're a fit or not.)
  • Based on your research, ask a question related to the company or its performance. For example, you might say something like, "I see that you increased your sales by XX percent.  Was that due to the introduction of new products like A, B and C?"
  • I noticed when reviewing your Linked-In profile that you worked at ABC corporation prior to joining this firm. What attracted you to join this firm and how has this experience differed from ABC?
  • I am very interested in this position and feel that this firm is the perfect fit with my background.  What are the next steps in the interview process?  Is there anything else you need from me?

It Might Be Obvious But Merits Repeating:

  • Do not chew anything
  • Do not suck on candy
  • Do not smoke (even prior to the interview)
  • Do not wear excessive cologne or perfume
  • Do not wear excessive jewelry
  • Cover tattoos
  • Remove any obvious body piercings

Thank Your Interviewer with a handwritten note or email. These personal gestures, though they may seem old fashioned, go a long way in the business community.  They show that you are respectful of people's time and reflect on how you might treat co-workers or customers should you be offered the job.  Proofread your note and have others do so, too.  Never rush a thank you note!  If there are typos in the note, you could immediately be eliminated from the interview process.  Take your time, read it carefully, have another set of eyes check it before sending it off! 

Remember...you only get one chance to make a first impression!