While getting ready for an interview, we tend to focus on the tough questions and the appropriate responses to these, rehearsing often in our minds the anecdotes and stories that we should tell. But before you even get the chance to deliver these answers remember, a job interview does not start with the first question. Your interviewer will probably see you before they hear you and if you turn up looking a mess or with a frown on your face, that’s definitely not the start you are hoping for.
Self-Audit Your Online Profiles
Critically review your various online and social media accounts – executive recruiters, both in-house and those from external firms, will check your presence online and will pick up anything that could potentially negatively impact the corporate brand. Make sure your LinkedIn profile is up-to-date and is aligned with and reflective of your resume; and make sure you have some great endorsements and recommendations on your profile about your work. Check your other profiles to make sure there is no content that could cause embarrassment. Having a well cultivated personal brand as an executive is important for enhancing your credibility as a thought leader, but maintaining and protecting your repuatation online is even more critical.
Show Up On Time
We all know: “If you’re early, you’re on time; if you’re on time, you’re late.” Being punctual is a must. If you are worried that you will get delayed give the journey a trial run before the interview. This will hopefully highlight any potential travel issues or unexpected diversions. Just in case you are still delayed, inform everyone as early as possible. Not ideal, but no amount of excuses later can make up for not informing. On the flip side, if you arrive more than 15 minutes early, wait in your car or at a local coffee shop before going into the company building. There is such thing as being too early for an interview.
Create an Impact
Put on your charming, smiling face at the door. Even before you get to the interview room, be courteous and positive with anyone you encounter. You could be an employee in a few weeks' time. This is a great opportunity to exercise those vocal chords and build up confidence before the interview starts.
Appearance may not be the basis of the final decision – but it can play a part. Dress "one step above the position." While suits are a preferred option, local business practices and company culture will influence how you dress for the interview. That said, it is better to be overdressed than underdressed. While it is important to allow your personality to shine through, the rule of thumb is to avoid too much hair colour, loud colours, jewelry…you get the drift.
Know your CV like the back of your hand. Keep hard copies of your resume handy. Do your homework on the company, the kind of people that work there, the culture and any recent news articles or business deals. Knowing a thing or two about your potential employer will assist you in the interview. It will help you to tailor your responses, show you are keen and that you are truly interested in the position and the company.
Research will enable you to ask relevant and informed questions about the company that can directly relate to your position. Questions around company structure, any strategic, operational and business changes that have recently occurred, reporting lines, reasons why the position has become available and employer expectations of the new employee are great questions for you to ask to guage the culture of company and ascertain if your skills and competences will be of value to them. This extra preparation will help you standout from the other candidates who are also interviewing for the position. Nowadays we all have access to LinkedIn, Facebook, Xing, Twitter, Instagram, and numerous other social networks. If you know who is likely to interview you, spend those extra few minutes researching their background, colleges, interests, hobbies. You might just find something that connects both of you.
Put the Phone Away
Switch it off. At least put it on silent and stow it away in your jacket or briefcase; ideally before you enter the venue. Then, when your interviewer makes his or her appearance, you won’t be caught off guard, shutting down Candy Crush and stuffing your phone back into your briefcase.
You’re probably waiting for them to make the first move on this. Go on, extend your hand first for that introductory handshake. With just that small gesture, you’re demonstrating your confidence, eagerness and self-assurance. Don’t assume people remember who you are. There is a good chance your interviewer has met with many people in the day and will be trying to remember the name on their calendar reminder when you step into their office.
The Art of the Small Talk
It doesn’t have to be something big—just something that will get your foot in the door and provide the right impetus to the interview. Your preparation will help in this. Common topics like interests, schools and weather are always a great way to start. If you are meeting someone from the business, any recent news on them could be a wonderful starting point, showing that you took the initiative to research the company.
An interview is a two-way conversation. You have demonstrated your eagerness; you have asked your questions and provided some articulate responses to those “oh-so-tough” questions. Now, demonstrate that you care and are interested in learning more about this company in order to help solve their problems. Take notes. It will help you clarify your own thoughts and give you the opportunity to provide insightful responses.
Send a Thank you Note
Don’t wait. Make sure this is the very first thing you do after completing the interview. Sending a thank you note over email is fine – make sure you have the email address of the interviewer handy before you leave. Thank your interviewer(s) for their time, mention something specific about your conversation, reaffirm your interest in the role/company and conclude with a succinct link between your skills and competencies and the need they will fulfill at the company (but be mindful of your tone – don’t boast or be arrogant but don’t also be too humble or self-deprecating).
These are some of the simple ways in which you can create a great impression when you go for any job interview. It is important to make sure that you do not try to be someone you are not. Have faith in your abilities and put your best foot forward.