You’ve heard lots of tips for tackling difficult interview questions and advice on how to make a strong final impression with great questions, but what should you do before that important meeting? It can be tricky to figure out how to prepare for an interview, but it's worth your while spend some time on preparation so you'll wow the employer and feel confident once the conversation is over. After all, a first impression is made long before you walk into a meeting, so take some time to consider these steps before you even make it to the face-to-face interview.
Take these six steps to ensure your interviewing skills are sharp enough to impress any interviewer or hiring manager.
1. Phone Etiquette
You never know who is on the other end of the phone — it could be a future boss or colleague. Answer phone calls with a kind word and your name. For example, ‘Hello, this is Maria,’ or ‘Good afternoon, Maria speaking.’ This will create ease with the caller right away.
Try not to answer the phone if you are unable to talk or access your calendar to schedule a meeting. You do not want to leave the impression of being harried or disorganized. If you are tied up when the call comes in, it is much better to have your voicemail receive the call. This way you can call back when you are in a position to talk and put your best foot forward. Ensure that you have a professional voicemail message and a mailbox that is not full.
Whether you have a phone interview, informational interview or in-person job interview, take the time to research a company, the job for which you're applying, and those interviewing you. Learning about company history, company mission and company culture will go a long way; if you're well-informed about the potential employer's company mission and reputation, you'll come off as a knoweldgable, enthusiastic candidate, and you'll be better prepared to ask a thought-provoking question as the interview comes to a close.
This means going beyond the company website to sites such as LinkedIn, Glassdoor, and Indeed, as well as social media and news outlets. You don't want to be caught off guard — even duing an informational interview — when someone asks you what you know about the company.
"Tell me about yourself." "Why are you looking for a new job?" "What are your greatest strengths?" "What are you working to improve?" "What motivates you?" These are just a few common interview questions. Take some time to prepare stories to answer these questions as well as other questions that might be applicable to your new role.
It isn’t necessary to memorize your answers, but organize them into bullet points so that you can easily recall the information during the job interview. You might also have a friend conduct a mock interview with you so that you can practice your answers...and even your eye contact! The last thing you want is to be kicking yourself because you got flustered while answering a common interview question.
Like your resume, your answers should include numbers, percentages and the results you achieved, as well as your most valuable skills. Also, remember to prepare a list of questions to ask your interviewer at the end of the interview.
On the day of your interview, be sure that you have all necessary items easily accessible to you. Interviewers may print out your resume themselves, but to be safe, pack at least four copies of your resume, a list of references, two pens and a notebook. Consider buying a portfolio to keep these items neat and organized. Having to look for a pen, or worse, not having one, can make you appear disorganized and cause you to feel rattled before the interview even begins.
5. Arrival Time
Plan to arrive at the location 30 minutes before your scheduled interview and enter the offices 10 to 15 minutes before your interview. Arriving more than 15 minutes before your interview can make interviewers feel pressure to start the meeting early, so have a cup of coffee or get a breath of fresh air while you wait. This ensures that even if traffic or other circumstances delay your arrival, you’ll still be on time for the meeting.
6. Empowerment Exercise
Since you’ve arrived with plenty of time to spare, take a moment to ensure that you are feeling your most confident. Use this time to write down your proudest accomplishments and biggest achievements. This will put you in a positive frame of mind when the interview starts. You could also take a cue from Amy Cuddy and strike a high-power pose to signal that you’re ready to take on anything!
These tips will allow you to put your best foot forward from the first interaction you have with a prospective employer so you enter the interview with confidence.
Alyson Garrido is passionate about helping people advance their careers and find jobs they will enjoy. As a career coach, she partners with her clients to identify their strengths and create a path toward a more fulfilling career. Learn more at www.alysongarrido.com.
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