I used to think that interviewing protocol was common knowledge. I’ve seen too many disasters of late, and am now forced to reconsider. Obviously, job interviews vary from company to company but if you follow these rules you’ll have a better chance of setting yourself apart.
1. The first rule happens pre-interview in writing your resume. Your resume must have correct spelling and sentence structure. If it doesn’t, you will not be asked to start the interview process. Have a few people proofread your resume and make changes as needed. Also, don’t have gaps in your work history or be prepared to explain why they exist.
2. Be 10 minutes early to your interview. Make whatever allowances you must; because being late for your first impression is an automatic disqualifier.
3. Dress at least one level above the dress code of the company you are interviewing for. You don’t need a tuxedo for a lifeguard interview but in most instances: a suit or professional attire will be appreciated, and you’ll be deemed more interested in the role by dressing well. Under NO CIRCUMSTANCES should you wear jeans, t-shirts, flip-flops or casual wear to an interview! If you are the best software developer in the world you may get away with wearing your pajamas to an interview (maybe) and still get hired… for the rest of us: dress like you want the job.
4. While we are talking about your attire personal hygiene is just as, if not more important, than attire. Body odor, unkept hair, and dirt on your clothes or person are an instant deal breaker.
5. When you meet the interviewer look them in the eye and shake hands firmly. There is no substitute for confidence.
6. Bring an additional copy of your resume to the interview. Yes, I know you already emailed them a copy, but bring another one. Often interviewers make notes on your resume during the interview and even if they don’t you’ll look prepared and gain credibility.
7. If you have a current business card, bring it to the interview. I realize this is becoming a nostalgic practice, but it shows professionalism and is another reminder of who you are and that you should be taken seriously.
8. Many companies utilize Behavioral Job Questions. You can find examples of commonly asked questions online. Spend a little time in the days leading up to your interview and review them. Don’t just think about how you’d answer them but verbalize your response. When you hear yourself talking you’ll have a better idea of whether your answer sounds credible. There will likely be a question about how you handle challenges or overcome mistakes you’ve made. You should have an answer prepared beforehand for this. Use a real example of how you’ve resolved the issue they present you with.
9. Before you interview with a company get online and do research on them. Having some background on their history, company culture, products or specialties will set you apart from other interviewees.
10. Have a few questions prepared to ask the interviewer. You can relate a question to something you saw on their website or ask them what they like best about their job. But, always have a few questions in your back packet to position yourself in a positive light.
11. Finally, thank the interviewer for their time once the meeting is complete. Ask at that point about the timeframe and next possible steps. This shows interest in the role and eagerness to move forward in the process.