Your interview suit is clean, you just got a haircut, and you’re ready to walk out the door. Do you have everything you need to make your first job interview a success?
Paper Copies of Your Resume
Even if you sent your resume electronically and you know the employer has seen it already, your interviewer may not be 100% prepared for your meeting. Perhaps she was running late and didn’t have time to print it out. Maybe he’s not the person who was originally supposed to interview you. Avoid these problems and show your prospective employer your preparation. Bring several hard copies with you and make sure they’re clean and wrinkle-free.
An Inquisitive Brain, a Plain Notebook, and Pens
You’ve already spent time on the company website to learn more about the company you’re considering. Don’t let that careful preparation go unnoticed. Pay close attention during the interviews, and ask plenty of questions that demonstrate your interest and smarts. Keep your notebook and pens businesslike — never bring a childish or outlandish-looking notebook to an interview. Just like you brought extra resumes, make sure you bring extra pens so your interviewer doesn’t have to scramble.
Don’t forget that you’ll probably have to answer some tough interview questions. If you really want the job, you’ll spend time researching what they’re likely to ask. Think carefully about how you’ll respond to common questions, and aim for a truthful answer that references your abilities and experiences. You might find your interviewer asking you hypothetical questions about how you would handle a work problem typical in that environment. If you can respond confidently by describing experiences of your own, you’ll get a leg up on the competition.
Show Your Best Self
Bring a big smile, plenty of eye contact, and a professional appearance to your interview. Avoid hairstyles that are too messy or too dressy, and keep makeup professional — it’s not the time to break out your new sparkly eyeshadow. For men, keep yourselves clean-shaven or your beard neatly trimmed. Candidates of all genders should wear clean and neatly pressed clothes, and clean shoes. Avoid eating anything garlicky before your appointment, and brush your teeth. Neatly trim and shape your nails. One briefcase or messenger bag can also demonstrate your streamlined, professional image to your prospective employer.
You know you’re the right candidate for the job, but your interviewer doesn’t right now. If you get asked for your references, that’s a great sign that the company is interested in hiring you. Don’t slow momentum by stalling on the reference question. Instead, have professional and personal references ready to provide at a moment’s notice. It’s easy to prepare this in advance, but make sure you ask your references if it’s acceptable to include them. Ideally, you’ll need a superior, a peer, and a personal reference. In some cases, you should also be prepared to undergo a credit check and background check.
<h2Practical Essentials and Tips
Don’t forget to include the essential items in your bag that can help you solve pesky problems quickly. This can include a bottle of water, breath mints, and tissues. It might also include examples of your work. Make sure you turn off your cell phone during the interview. If you’re interviewing at an industrial or research facility, wear comfortable walking shoes. Part of the interview process might mean touring the building. You might also find the office is a long walk from the parking lot, and you picked the wrong day to break in your new shoes.
Finally, make sure you know where you’re going and give yourself plenty of time to get there. If you follow some of these tips and approach the interview with confidence, you’re likely to make a positive impression on the interviewer.
CC Photo by Samuel Mann.