Prepare for your In-Person Interview
Preparing for an interview – the very thought of it can be intimidating or nerve-wracking. Even very experienced, senior executives feel a little insecurity when they have to meet brand new people and convince them of their abilities.
A certain amount of preparation will help cinch that job while making an excellent first impression. Here are some tips to help you to prepare for a face-to-face interview and nail that job.
If possible, before your interview find out some details about the interviewing process. Ask how many rounds of interview you will have to attend and prepare accordingly. Most companies conduct 2 or 3 separate rounds of interviews. For instance, the first round might be a ‘get to know each other’ round where your hiring manager might want to discuss your career thus far and your skills and experience. The second round might be a technical round, if that’s the nature of your job, or a more intense version of the first round they’ll dig deeper into your background and approach. The final round is often where the HR manager shares information or a senior-level person gets involved. When you get to this level, you know things are weighing in your favor. Use caution though and never assume it’s a done deal or become complacent. Treat each interview as though the job is yours to lose because, in reality, it is.
Tips to make a great first impression:
- Ask your recruiter for an itinerary. Especially for higher-level positions, it’s common to receive a list of who you’ll be speaking with and their titles.
- Ask your recruiter to get you an itinerary of the interview. Know your interviewers’ names in advance, along with their designations and which departments they represent. Look up their profile on LinkedIn or elsewhere to determine how they fit into the company.
- Ask about the company’s preferred dress code beforehand and dress accordingly. A tip for men: If the interview specifically requests ‘business casual’ that means simply that if you were to add a tie, you would be ‘business’.
- Do some homework about the company online before the interview. You should know when the company started, by whom, what are the names of the senior executives, what is the objective of the company, and what products or services they are associated with. Don’t go overboard by showing how much you know, but you can interject your knowledge and interest as it’s appropriate.
- Create some questions ahead of time that you can bring up when the time is right.
- Make sure you have directions complete with instructions on where to park, where to enter the building, and who to ask for.
- Arrive 5 – 10 minutes early. Never be late.
- Keep introductions friendly, smile, and use a firm handshake if it is proffered. Keep in mind, post-Covid, some people still prefer to maintain a distance, so read the room and mimic others. Be friendly to everyone you meet – EVERYONE.
- If you are offered a drink, take it. You never know how much talking you’ll do and if your throat gets dry, you’ll be grateful you didn’t turn it down.
- They may already have your resume, but bring several hard copies of your resume just in case. Bring copies of all relevant certificates, letters of appreciation, previous performance reviews, or any other documents or supportive work projects.
- Have a notepad so you can take notes, jot down questions as they arise, and you’ll want that paper on hand just in case you need to illustrate something.
- Keep your resume visible to glance at for dates or reminders of relevant accomplishments, just in case you get nervous or blank out.
- Let them lead the interview, don’t take over and start talking about things that weren’t specifically asked. Keep your answers to one or two minutes each and verify you have answered their question if unsure.
- When they ask you if you have any questions, ask them some questions. You should have something you want clarity on as that shows you are interested. However, one topic to avoid is compensation, don’t bring it up unless they do first. Typically, compensation questions will be handled through your recruiter, but if asked, don’t avoid answering them.
- Collect business cards and send a “thank you” email immediately following the interview. If you don’t have everyone’s email, ask your recruiter to forward them on your behalf.
- Leave them with the clear impression that you want the job (if you do), ask them when you should hear back from someone.
- Call your recruiter and debrief them directly after the interview.
- Usually, your recruiter will reach out as soon as they have the client’s decision, but if they don’t, be proactive and follow up.
Preparing for your interview goes a long way towards clinching that job and making a great first impression.
Have you ever been unprepared for an interview and it cost you the job? What do you wish you’d done differently?