Although these interview tips might seem obvious, you’d be amazed by what we’ve seen in our 20 years of recruiting coaching – one should never assume anything! (Next week we’ll be sharing some of our biggest Interview Fails.)

In our ultra-cool culture, formalities that were once standard, are hard to find these days. It’s become common practice to bring a cup of coffee into church or sit in a restaurant with your BlueTooth attached to your ear or your dog in your lap. Texting during class, meetings, or even at a funeral is the “norm”. It’s important to remember, however, that what might be socially acceptable in casual settings, is definitely not appropriate in a professional situation such as an interview. Remember: The goal of the first interview is to secure a second one!

4 Things You Can’t Forget if You Want to Land the Job

Dress the Part

One of the most common questions our candidates ask is “What should I wear to the interview?” Although company culture drives the decision about what to wear as an employee, it should not influence a first interview. The company’s first impression of you begins with how you look… So dress accordingly. Men should be in a suit and tie. For women, a blouse and skirt or pant suit is appropriate. Be aware of your shoes, hair, perfume/cologne and jewelry, as well. Your appearance also includes what you do and don’t have with you. Take a portfolio for notes and leave your coffee, water and cell phone in the car!

Sell your brand from minute one

 An interview is more than simply determining your qualifications. Hiring managers are assessing your “fit.” They are watching to see whether they “clicked” with or established rapport with you. Remembering a few key items will greatly improve your chances. From the moment your car enters the parking lot, you are selling your brand. Project a professional and respectful image while you’re waiting for the interview; engage the receptionist in polite conversation; don’t smoke or chew gum; breathe deeply to calm yourself down; accept a glass of water if offered but do not ask for something to drink. Never underestimate the power of a firm handshake, continuous eye contact and self-confidence.

It’s not just what you say, but how you say it

Nailing those interview questions is about more than the content of your answer. Don’t forget the importance of how and when you answer. Effective communication is a two-way street. Listen actively as the interviewer speaks – lean toward her to show you’re paying attention, take notes, and ask follow on questions as appropriate. Don’t be so quick to answer that you forget to listen to all of the question!

When it’s time to answer a question, make eye contact and take a moment to formulate your response before answering. If you’re unsure how to answer, ask clarifying questions. “I’m not sure I understand your question completely. Did you mean…” or “That’s a great question. Let me take a moment to collect my thoughts.” Try to think of the interview as a conversation, not an interrogation; and remember, you’re interviewing them just as they’re interviewing you. End the interview with a handshake, thank the interviewer for his/her time, and let him know you want the job. For example: “I’d like to thank you for taking the time to meet with me. I hope you’ll strongly consider me for this position.” or “Is there anything about my background you’d like me to expand on?”

P.S It is perfectly acceptable to ask about next the steps and their timing. In fact, it shows just how proactive and interested you are.

Follow up!

Some candidates do not feel comfortable following up with a phone call or email. Here’s what we tell candidates: immediately send a hand written thank you after the interview is complete, followed by an email the next day. If you interview with several people, send a thank you note to each one. You can use essentially the same letter, but vary a sentence or two to individualize each one in case the recipients compare notes. The rule of thumb is to send your note within 24 hours of the interview. Remember to personalize the note and consider including an interesting and relevant article.

While creating an impactful resume is the first step to landing the new job you want, mastering an interview, takes a bit more finesse. Following these simple tips will help you put your best foot forward and greatly increase the likelihood of landing your ideal job.

Download your copy of “Interview Etiquette: 4 Things You Can’t Forget if You Want to Get the Job”

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