Your goal in an interview is to land the job or at least be moved forward in the process. For the employer the goal is finding the best candidate for the job. While several candidates may have the appropriate skills to succeed in the position, employers use the interview process to identify and assess the best fit. You want to make the best possible impression with everyone you meet in the process and you do not want to give them an easy reason to eliminate you from future consideration. If there is a strong pool of candidates, they are often looking for small reasons to cut the pool. Don’t make it easy to cut you.
Attire and Professional Presence
For interviews you want to always put your best foot forward. While it is not likely you will get the job simply because you have the best suit, you can be easily eliminated if you do not make a good professional impression. You want to project a confident, professional presence. Always wear a suit and be sure it is clean, pressed and that it fits well. Ladies, pants suits are fine but if you wear a skirt, be sure it is not too short. Have a blouse that tucks in and is not low cut. Men, the shirt should be pressed and the tie should coordinate. Socks should match the trousers. Be sure to polish your shoes. When in doubt, err on the side of being conservative. Be sure your hands are clean since you will be shaking hands. Hair should be clean and well groomed. Deodorant is critical but go easy or eliminate cologne since it can easily overpower an interview room. Go easy on jewelry to ensure that it is not a distraction during the interview.
Demonstrate Your Interest Through Your Preparation
Be well prepared, it shows interest and professionalism. Have questions prepared in advance that you want to ask. You should have your references available in case you are asked. Be sure you have verified and confirmed the contact information.
Be Someone They Want as a Colleague
Even if you are nervous, it is important to smile. It demonstrates your interest. While you are onsite for your interview, be pleasant to everyone you meet. It is not unusual for a hiring manager to ask the administrative assistant or receptionist for feedback on candidates. Arrive a few minutes early. Ask if you can take notes as appropriate. Give it your best shot – focusing on how you can meet their needs not on what you want.
Say Thank You
A handwritten thank you note should be sent to every person you interview with at a company. Each note should be customized to the individual, referencing something that you discussed. This is an opportunity to demonstrate your writing skills, your professionalism and your enthusiasm for the opportunity. Each note should be unique since they will likely compare notes. Thank them for their time. Let them know what you are excited about regarding this job. Let them know you want to be on the team. If you know the process is moving quickly you can send a very professional email thank you note but should still follow-up with a handwritten note. It is a differentiator. So few people write handwritten notes anymore they are memorable. Always get your notes in the mail within 24 hours of the interview. In a tough decision between two finalists the decision may come down to who sent a thank you note.