Guide to Putting Your Best Foot Forward
Human Resource industry experts estimate that an interviewer decides whether or not to seriously consider you as a candidate during the first two minutes of the interview. How well you are dressed, how polite you are, and how confident your handshake is will all be assessed upon meeting a potential employer. Your interviewer will draw all kinds of conclusions about what kind of worker you will be based on the initial introduction. That first impression influences heavily how well-received you will be during the interview and whether you’ll get a second interview or — better yet — an offer. Here are a few tips to help you make a good impression at your next interview.
Be On Time
Whether you’re going by car, bus, train or plane, do not be late to your interview. Give yourself ample time to find the interview site if you have never been there. If possible, plan a scouting trip a few days before the interview, and plan your route accordingly. If you are late, do not make excuses. No one wants to hear about traffic or parking problems. Apologize and offer to reschedule at the interviewer’s convenience if your tardiness has thrown her day into disarray. Take responsibility by coming up with ways to make the disruption to her schedule better.
If the initial impression you give the interviewer is one of nervous awkwardness, it is likely that will extend to how she sees you professionally. As soon as you meet the interviewer for the first time, shake her hand, make eye contact, and thank her right away for taking the time to meet with you. Let her know you are very interested in the opportunity right off the bat. Potential employers want to know you are excited about the possibility of working for their company and grateful for the chance to have a shot at a job with them.
Nothing is worse than complaining during an interview. Whether it is about a current employer, the current job market, an opportunity you did not receive, or your personal life, negativity is something your would-be boss will remember and associate with you even after the interview. Employers want to think they are hiring someone who is upbeat and energetic, not a Debbie Downer.
When the interviewer asks if you have any questions about the company or position, be ready with a few insightful and employer-specific questions that you have prepared in advance. When you do not ask anything, you come across as not being interested in the position, unprepared, or — worse — as though you lack intellectual curiosity.
At the end of the interview, thank your interviewer for her time. Within 24 hours of the interview, send a quick thank you e-mail or note. It keeps you on the interviewer’s mind and helps you stand out since many candidates skip this step in the job-seeking process. Your thank you note can be very brief, and need not go into a lot of detail, but whatever you do, make absolutely certain that it contains no typos, grammar problems, or other careless errors!