The resume is perfect, cover letter stellar, and you passed the phone screen to land an interview! Now what? Here are a few basic tips to keep in mind.
Be presentable – wear appropriate clothing. A suit or stylish dress are generally the rule, with polished shoes and matching socks/hose. But if the industry is unique (or the employer sells a specific clothing line), this might be the exception. Pay attention to hair, make-up, nails, etc. and don’t wear jewelry that might distract the interviewer. Use perfume or cologne sparingly. Turn off your phone!!!
Be early – whether the interview is on campus or at the employer’s site, be early. On campus, you’ll have time to think about what you’re going to say, to take a breath and just get mentally prepared. If you’re at an employer’s site, you’ll have time to absorb your surroundings. Look at the pictures on the wall – are they awards or framed news stories about the company? Is there an award case? Usually the waiting area is a place for companies to show off – pay attention to the message they may be sending and feel free to ask a question about it during the interview. It shows you’re paying attention! It also gives you some insight to the company culture and may tell you whether you’d fit in.
Use the interviewer’s name – and if you know the name in advance, do a little research to find out something about him/her. Do you have something in common? You may have an opportunity to bring that up, depending on the flow of the interview and how many interviewers there are. But having some background knowledge of your interviewer is almost as important as background info on the company. Use the interviewer’s name at the end as well – it shows you paid attention, and will help to personalize the meeting (as well as make you stand out).
Body language/eye contact – SMILE! Use “open” body language, no arms folded across your chest. Everyone’s nervous, sometimes even the interviewer. Smiling puts everyone at ease, and it makes you instantly more likable and appealing to a prospective employer. The interviewer will see that you are genuinely interested in what’s being said and that you’re interested in working for that company.
Be prepared for concrete examples of how you did something – you’ve thought about this for your resume, so you should have numerous examples at your fingertips. Have several examples for standard questions like “describe a time where you didn’t get the result you expected. How did you handle it?” and other standard questions. With several examples in mind, you’ll feel more confident going in, and you’ll be able to adjust your example to the specific question and company. Google “sample resume questions” for thousands of examples.
Follow up! Don’t just leave with a handshake, using the interviewer’s name. Send an email or a hand-written thank you as soon as possible, referencing something specific in your conversation, and providing concrete examples of why you’re excited about this position.