Tips for a Successful Interview

Posted by Jeff Pelliccio on May 10, 2012 9:21:00 AM

In Interview Tips

Resumes and references are designed to distinguish you from other candidates and spark a prospective employer’s interest. Your interview will determine whether you get the job. While an impressive resume and excellent references will bring you one step closer to your dream position, ultimately, your interview will determine whether or not you receive a job offer. An interview is your opportunity to connect with your potential employer on a more personal level and provide context to your professional background. While there are plenty of variables you cannot control, following these three tips for a successful interview will help you transform the possibility of a position into a reality.

Research the company and the people you are meeting

There are three websites you should visit before every interview: the company’s official website, LinkedIn, and Google. The company’s official website will provide important information about the history of the company, its most notable achievements, and its mission statement. It provides a window to not only what the company is today but also what it aspires to be. It should also contain biographies of your interviewer(s) and key figures in the company who you should be familiar with even if it is unlikely you will have direct contact with them. Your next stop should be LinkedIn to look at the company’s page and the personal pages of the people you will encounter. This will provide another perspective into the identity and culture of the company and its employees. The third, but by no means final, destination is Google. Google the company and any people you are meeting and then click on those links. Go beyond the first ten search results and see what you can learn about the company. You want to cultivate a comprehensive, nuanced view of the company, which will enable you to articulate with ease why you would be a good fit, not only for this position, but also this employer specifically.

Dress for success

While dress codes can vary widely, you should dress as professionally as possible for your interview. Typically, this means a clean, freshly pressed suit for both men and women, even if the company’s culture is more business casual. You want to show that you can rise to the occasion and pull out all the stops when necessary. After all, most companies have at least one important meeting or event a year when everyone dresses to impress. Beyond the basics, such as a decent hair cut and being clean shaven, you want to make sure your shoes are shined, your clothes have been tailored to fit you, and you are carrying a clean, professional bag that contains multiple copies of your resume (and a portfolio, if applicable), any information that was sent to you in preparation for the meeting including directions, and items you may need to spiff yourself up when you arrive. Female candidates should wear daytime makeup and one or two pieces of appropriate jewelry, such as earrings and a pendant, as finishing touches. Male candidates should wear a tie, a belt that matches their shoes, and, if they wear a watch, the nicest one they own. When it comes to aftershave, cologne, and perfume, make sure it is not overpowering and is a light, neutral scent that is unlikely to spark someone’s allergies. You do not want you interviewer distracted by an itchy nose and irrepressible sneezing. Treat every interview as the most important meeting of your professional career, because it very well may be, and dress accordingly, your physical appearance will reflect the professional, well put-together person you are.

Send a thank you email within 24 hours

It is surprising how many people can overlook this simple but essential step. During the interview, make sure you collect business cards from everyone you meet. Immediately afterwards, jot down a few things about each person, so you can jog your memory later. If you have been interviewing a lot or encounter several people during your interview, it may be difficult to remember who is who when you sit down to compose your thank you emails. Your thank you emails should be brief, professional, and friendly. You want to thank your interviewers for their time and attention, express your enthusiasm about the position, and include one specific, personal detail that differentiates each email from each other. You do not want them to read like an automated message, but as genuine expressions of gratitude and interest. After you compose your email, do a spelling and grammar check and read it over more than once. If you make any changes, repeat the spelling and grammar check and reread it again, because you do not want any spelling errors, common grammar mistakes, or typos undermining the impression you have made thus far. The last thing you should do after writing your email is enter the email address in the “to” field. This prevents you from prematurely sending it or mixing up recipients. As for timing, you do not want to send the email immediately, nor do you want to wait too long. Within 24 hours is acceptable, but a few hours afterwards and no later than the next morning is probably ideal.

Remember looking good on paper is important, but the impression you make in person will be the deciding factor on whether or not you are offered a new job. If you do your research, dress to impress, and remember simple professional courtesies, you can proceed with confidence, knowing that you are being the best and most hireable version of yourself.