You got the phone call for an interview. Your preparation for that interview starts with that call. Get the name of who you are talking to and find out if that is the person you will interview with. If not, get the name of the person you will. Make a note of it and use their name when greeting them (“Carol, it’s so nice to meet you.”) as well as throughout the interview. People like to hear their name, and if you use it while greeting them, they’ll be delighted that you remembered their name.
As soon as you hang up the phone, begin your research. What are you researching? The company itself. You’ll want to look up their website, social media, and check for any recent news articles. On their website, check out their mission and vision statements. If they have them on the site, look for their goals, some of their history, their blog and just get an overall familiarity with them. If you see something that you could bring up or ask a question about, make a note. With their social media, you’ll get an idea of the company’s “personality”. Is the personality quirky and fun or pretty straightforward? You can reflect some of this personality in your interview to show that you can fit in. Lastly, recent new articles will tell about what is going on currently with the company. If it’s good news, you can show your excitement over the development and/or how you can contribute to that growth. Bad news can be an opportunity to show how you can help turn that situation around. Both will show that you are on top of what is going on with the business.
You should prepare some answers to common interview questions (Google them. We’ll also have posts about them). Also be prepared for a behavioral interview, which is a possibility. Behavioral interviews, if you’ve never experienced one, is an interview in which the interviewer will ask about a candidate's past experiences by asking candidates to provide specific examples of how they have demonstrated certain behaviors, knowledge, skills and abilities. For more about behavioral interviews, visit our blog article on them. Be prepared for both possibilities and practice. Know what you want to convey; there’s no need to memorize each answer to every potential question. You’ll not only drive yourself crazy, but you may come off sounding robotic rather than conversational.
Speaking of conversational, an interview is just that: a conversation. You should have some questions for the interviewer ready to go. Those questions should not be about salary or benefits; you’ll appear to only care about money and perks rather than the job or company. Rather ask questions about the company’s goal and where you might fit into those goals, for example. Ask about the career path for someone in the position you’re interviewing for is another example. Your questions should express your interest in the company and position. Make a note of questions you may want to ask and make sure you bring them with you to the interview.
If you can, visit the business or at least drive there. You can time your drive to make sure you arrive in plenty of time, and you’ll know where to find it and parking possibilities. If you can walk in the building and observe without disruption, find out what people are wearing so you can plan accordingly. If you can’t go in the building, then check their website pictures and see how people are dressed.
Once you’ve made a visit, plan your outfit. A good rule of thumb is to wear something slightly better than what is normally worn. For example, if it’s a jeans and T-shirt place (or a uniform), wear a polo shirt and khakis or some other nice shirt and pants. Also wear an outfit that makes you feel confident, but make sure it’s still interview appropriate. That leopard print mini-dress might make you feel like a million bucks but does it send the right impression? Most importantly, ensure that your outfit is clean, pressed, and in good repair. And don’t forget the shoes. Leave the sneakers at home and wear a clean pair of shoes. Another thing to leave at home is your ball cap or any other super casual hat.
On the day of the interview, shower, use deodorant (you’re going to be nervous), avoid cologne or perfume. Do your hair and makeup in a professional, understated manner. Granted, all this should go without saying, but after having done many interviews in the past, it needs to be said.
Also on the day of the interview, show up on time which means at least 15 minute before your appointment. It’s better to be early than late. Do not trust that traffic is clear, parking is available close by, etc. The minute you arrive, shut off your phone. You don’t want it going off in the middle of your interview.
Bring with you extra resumes, your references, your questions for the interviewer as well as paper and pen to take notes. You’ll want to take notes of any other people that join the meeting and/or something of interest that you can use later in your thank you note.
That thank you note? It should be sent within 24 hours of your interview. It can be emailed or sent by regular mail. If sent by regular mail, it should be handwritten in your best, legible handwriting. Keep it brief: a thanks for their time, mention something discussed, express your interest, and invite additional contact.
Acing an interview ultimately requires preparation and follow up. The more groundwork you do the better off you will be in the interview and the more confident you will feel.