Don't leave anything to chance. Remember: you can't be too prepared!
Congratulations! You have passed through the first screening and have an interview scheduled. By the time you get to this stage, you have already outlined your experience in your résumé and described your relevant work experience in your cover letter. Now it is time for the interview, which, as everyone knows, is a way for the employer to evaluate whether you are the right person for a job. In other words, will you “fit” in with the company's staff, values and goals? Of course, your objective is to show the employer that the answers to these questions are yes, yes and yes! But the interview is also a way for to find out more about the company and determine whether or not it is a right fit for you. Use this meeting as a chance to see if this atmosphere is one in which you would want to work.
To help you prepare for your big day, we have some interview tips for you. Read the suggestions below for helpful advice on making the most of this opportunity…
The Day Before the Interview...
- Make your travel plans for getting to the interview; know exactly where you are going and to whom you will be speaking. Allow for extra time to get to your interview to ensure you are on time. Do not forget to account for rush hour or weather or traffic delays.
- Buy your bus or train ticket, fill your car with gas or re-confirm other transportation plans.
- Decide what you will wear and check that it is clean, pressed, has no missing buttons, etc.
- Check that you have at least two pair of new or as-good-as-new hosiery - sheer, off black or nude.
- Confirm child care plans and any others that leave you depending on someone else. Have a back up in mind in case you need it.
- Learn as much as you can about the company at which you are interviewing. Review its Web site thoroughly and ask friends if they know anything about the job for which you applied.
The night before the interview…
- Check the weather forecast! Will you need an umbrella? Should you wear a coat?
- Plan how you will wear your hair and make-up. (You shouldn't try anything new in the morning.) Make-up should be appropriate for daytime, not Saturday night. Keep eye makeup to a minimum or wear none at all.
- Check your nails! They should be conservative in length and color; no chipped polish.
- Do as much of your morning preparation for both yourself and your family as you can.
- Do something to relax: take a warm bath, exercise, etc.
- Pack your bag for the morning. Remember to bring:
- Directions to the interview and the exact address, including floor and suite numbers.
- The name and phone number of the interviewer, in case something extreme happens and you have to call and say you're going to be late.
- A few copies of your résumé and cover letter.
- A pad and pen.
- Samples of your work if this applies to your job and if you have been asked to bring them or think you might have an opportunity to show them.
- The questions you have prepared to ask your interviewer. Yes, you may bring a list of questions with you!
- Have a light dinner (no alcohol) and go to bed early.
The day of the interview…
- Avoid too much coffee or sugar at breakfast.
- Brush your teeth and put on deodorant!
- Remember to take directions to the interview, the name of the person you are meeting, copies of your résumé and other relevant items with you.
- Give yourself plenty of time to get there, get comfortable and find the restroom.
- If you arrive at the location of your interview more than 20 minutes early, then take a walk or wait outside. You do not want to show up too early.
- If you feel nervous, try breathing in to the count of ten and then exhale to the same count slowly.
- Observe your surroundings; get a feel for the workplace.
- Turn off your cell phone, pager…or anything else that beeps. The interview is too important to be interrupted.
- DO tell yourself you deserve the job. (That doesn't mean they owe it to you. You must convince them.)
- DO introduce yourself by name first. ”Hello, my name is ________.” Use your first and last name. Look the person in the eye and speak clearly.
- DO take out your pen and notebook to take down notes—or just to look prepared.
- DO be friendly. Give a firm handshake, make eye contact, smile and speak up. A little small talk to start is fine. For example, comment on the nice surroundings or a book you notice on the shelf.
- DO keep your temper no matter what happens.
- DO define your strengths and weaknesses.
- DO be prepared to talk about your professional goals or where you see yourself in a few years.
- DO be enthusiastic, courteous and alert throughout the entire interview.
- DO sit calmly. If you tend to gesture a lot when you talk, try clasping your hands in your lap.
- DO feel free to explain how well your special skills match up with the employer's needs.
- DO ask for a business card so that you can send a short and prompt thank-you note.
- DON'T bring a friend or child along.
- DON'T be insincere. Fake flattery shows.
- DON'T wear flashy jewelry (keep it simple and small) or a facial piercing.
- DON'T flirt, even if the interviewer flirts with you. Be friendly but business-like.
- DON'T use the word “fired” or mention that you didn't get along with a past supervisor.
- DON'T be afraid to ask why this company would be a better employer than its competitors.
- DON'T start with questions about your salary or time off—such as, ”How much vacation do I get?”
- DON'T be afraid to say, ”I really want this job; I know I could make a real contribution to the company.”
- DON'T slump, yawn, chew your nails or gum during a job interview.
- DON'T panic if you trip, knock something over or drop something. Show how cool you are under pressure.
You made a great first impression during your interview; your hard work and preparation paid off and you got the job! Although you have your foot in the door now, there are still some important things to keep in mind as you begin your new job and acquaint yourself with co-workers, supervisors and your office environment.
The first day on the job...
- Show both your supervisor and co-workers that you are polished, professional and take your new position seriously.
- Remember the time you took to prepare your professional appearance for your interview? Do the same thing again. Make sure that your clothing is clean and pressed.
- Be punctual and arrive early (but not more than 15 minutes early). As with your interview, leave yourself plenty of time to account for traffic or unexpected circumstances.
- Before going to work your first day, learn as much as you can about your new company—visit their Web site and review annual reports or brochures (if available).
- During your orientation, take notes and do not be afraid to ask questions. Show how interested and motivated you are to do a good job. You are not the first employee who has gone through training! If you do not have a written job description, make your own. Write down your daily, weekly, monthly and yearly responsibilities.
- Do not share key cards, office keys, disks and passwords
- Write down and commit to memory the mailing address, phone and fax numbers of your new company.
- When you record your personal phone message, be upbeat and clear. Remember to say your name and your company’s name.
The first week on the job...
- Get to know your co-workers but avoid office politics. Be inquisitive, listen and be open-minded.
- Do not complain or gossip about your old company or boss. A negative attitude is seen as very unprofessional.
- Pay attention to the office schedule and expectations of what hours to keep. Leaving work earlier than other people, especially when there is a big deadline or project, could give the impression that you are not willing to make an effort. Whereas, staying late every night may not be best either; it could become something that’s expected.
- Make sure you are familiar with all the office equipment and how to use it.
- Educate your children on phone etiquette and appropriate times to call, especially if you work in a cubicle or share a phone line with other people.
- Always turn off your cell phone when you are in a meeting. If you forget, quickly apologize and silence the phone.