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How to make a lasting impression in an interview

Jul 24, 2014

How to Gain an Interviewing Advantage

The job interview can be both exciting and scary at the same time. As a candidate, it’s your time to shine. But it’s also nerve wracking because your being judged on everything from the moment you walk in the door, including what you wear, do and say. Making the wrong impression during an interview can be detrimental because, as the old saying goes, you only get one chance to make a first impression. When you’re interviewing, you want to make a memorable one. Here are some interview tips on how to make a positive lasting impression during an interview:

Interview DO’s:

  • Arrive on time. Know where you’re going prior to leaving, add in some additional time for traffic or other delays, and have alternate routes in mind in case of a major delay. Make sure you’re there within 5 to 10 minutes of your interview time. Research the interviewer prior to going into the interview. Spend a few minutes on LinkedIn or see if they have a profile on the company page. Have a feel for who they are as a person and what they do.
  • Be polite. From the first phone call until the offer, your behavior is being watched closely. In my office, our receptionist will let me know her impression of a candidate’s behavior. If someone is particularly nice, she makes sure to tell me. On the flip side, if someone is not so nice, she lets me know that as well.
  • Dress appropriately. If you’re applying for a professional position, professional dress is a must. If you’re applying for a job that’s more of an industrial position, a suit isn’t always required, but you should still dress in neat, clean clothing that’s appropriate for the job.
  • Research the company and the job. Make it your mission to find out as much about the company as possible prior to going in. Look up their website, see if they have a Facebook or LinkedIn page. Have an understanding of what the company does. Pay close attention to any clues about the company’s culture. Also, researching the job helps you be prepared to answer questions about how you’ll perform if you’re offered the position. Know the requirements and be prepared to show- not just tell- how you fit those requirements.
  • Be prepared to discuss salary requirements. By fully researching the job, you should have an idea of the salary range that is average for a similar position in your area. With that information, you will be prepared to discuss your salary needs knowing that you’re not asking for too much or too little.
  • Be upbeat and enthusiastic. Show your enthusiasm in your answers. Be prepared in case the interviewer asks why you’re interested in the job or the company. As a recruiter, I can’t tell you how often applicants come off as aloof and uninterested during interviews. It doesn’t give me high hopes that their attitudes will change if they are offered a position. If you are truly excited about the job, show it. If not, it’s likely not the job for you.
  • Ask questions. Don’t be afraid to ask about what sets great employees apart from average ones. Ask specific questions about goals and job requirements so that you get a good feel for the job. Ask why the position is open in the first place. Remember, you’re not the only one being interviewed. You have to make the decision about whether the company is a fit for you, just like the interviewer has to make a decision about whether you’re a fit for the company.
  • Ask the interviewer about the next steps. Find out whether or not they have a tentative timeline. This will help you be prepared for what’s next and give you a feel for how urgently they need to fill the position. It will also provide you with an appropriate time to follow up to see if a decision has been made.

Interview DON’Ts:

  • Discuss your plans for a family. If you’re asked where you see yourself in X years, keep the topic on a professional level. When this question is asked, discuss your career goals, both for the short and long term. This, nor any other time during an interview, is the time to mention your plans for a spouse or future children.
  • Discuss any special accommodations. There’s always time to mention accommodations for disability or pregnancy, but this is not it. Save those discussions for when the offer is made.
  • Ask about salary, PTO, benefits, etc. Wait until this topic comes up and be prepared to discuss it if/ when it does.
  • Forget to silence your cell phone. Honestly, I recommend leaving it in the car so that it’s not a problem. But if you do take it in, make sure it’s on silent and don’t have it out during the interview. If you forget to silence it and it rings, turn it off and apologize for the interruption immediately.
  • Ask for the job or ask when you can start. No good interviewer is going to make a hasty decision. You shouldn’t either. Don’t put the interviewer or yourself on the spot. Give them and yourself time to digest the things you learned during the interview so that you both can make a good decision about whether you’re a fit for the job.

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