Whether you’re a first time job seeker or deep into your career, it helps to “refresh” our brains of the basics when it comes to interviewing for a job. Some tips?
Arrival: Show up to your interview 5-10 minutes early. Anything more or less than this is running the risk of looking too eager or unorganized.
Cell Phone/Pager/Laptop: Doesn’t matter if you’re in your interview or sitting in the lobby, you are not to pay attention to any technology. Silence (better yet, turn off) all of your gadgets before you even enter the building. You can be unconnected from the outside world and commit your time to your interviewer…they are doing the same for you!
Beverage in Hand: Do not (I repeat, do not) bring your morning java into an interview. First off, it’s distracting and second, If you can’t part with your daily jolt for an interview, what does that say about your priorities? Actions speak louder than words…food for thought.
Eye Contact: Be confident, but not cocky. Maintaining eye contact with your interviewer is key to showing that you’re engaged in your conversation and interested in what they have to tell you. Looking down or off into the distance can give off an indifferent vibe and can potentially insult your interviewer.
Reference the Company: Yes, researching the company is a fantastic idea. You should know exactly what you’re walking into, otherwise, how do you know if this is a company you want to be a part of? When referencing the company, don’t be on the surface; mention something deep within your research that really caught your eye.
Closing Argument: “Thank you for your time and I look forward to hearing from you” – This is something that everyone is going to say. What is the point of an interview? To stand out and beat your competition to the finishing line of “you’re hired.” Think of something else to say - Make it short, sweet, to the point and something you really mean. No I won’t give you a line; you have to think of it!
What else? What helps? What have you done, or seen others do, that has stuck out?
Recruiters: What do you think?
I am amazed at how many high level candidates bring in their coffee... and I RARELY schedule an interview before 9 or even 10 am. Seriously?
As far as interview dress code - I've always told candidates dress one level above the normal day to day dress code for the interview. Example: a buyer or other mid level procurement will wear business casual, so a suit is appropriate (w/ or w/out tie for guys). Warehouse worker, right on with the khaki / polo suggestion. Management? Suit. Every time.
Wear a suit and tie or at very least slacks and jacket. Take the attitude that you may never wear one again but let's let them know that in the event they ever needed to pick an employee to represent the company any place or they are looking for someone whom they might want to promote in the future, they at least know you own a suit and know how to wear it. I have never had anybody rejected because they were too professionally dressed, but I have had a lot of people turned down because they looked like a slob or dressed too casually
To clarify. I do not think you should bring a bottle of water. And if offered a beverage it is best to decline unless it is an all day interview. In which case accepting a bottle of water is the best option.
I appreciate the factors you mention relative to the job interview experience and will add:
Arrive with time to spare. Getting there early can often offset the unexpected delays due to unforeseen construction delays in traffic; bad directions (Google maps can send you down the wrong road); car accidents, Acts of God, etc. And there is nothing wrong with looking “eager”. That energy is positive and contagious. Interviewers love that in a job candidate and notice it when it’s missing
Cell Phone/Pager/Laptop need to be silenced—unless you’re advised that your first interview will be delayed due to the fact that your first interviewer is stuck in traffic; won the Mega Millions Lotto; has been called out to the CEO’s office; or an Act of God, like a flood, twister or Brahma Bull has caused the delay.
Beverage in Hand is not okay going into an interview—unless it is tea, coffee, water or soda—and was offered by the receptionist due to the fact that there is a delay in your interview schedule--or is offered during a break between interviews by your last interviewer or interview coordinator. Getting dry in the throat is common in long question and answer interview sessions. BTW if you need a potty break ask for one before you explode from all the coffee and water you had while waiting for your interview schedule to kick-off or get back on track.
It is sound advice to maintain good eye contact with the interviewer to show you’re fully engaged, carefully listening and responding as best you can to the questions posed.
However, interview protocol also applies to the interviewer(s) in the interview setting, as well. There will be the occasion(s) when the interviewee has a cultural background were making direct eye contact is considered “aggressive, rude, or a show of disrespect. Other cultures, and some religious groups, consider eye contact between men and women inappropriate and either as threatening or flirtatious. In many Asian cultures, avoiding eye contact with a member of the opposite sex or a superior is seen as a show of respect.”
Reference the Company, based on research of its products, services and people, when appropriate and genuine, do compliment and share your “likes” with the interviewer. Flattery done right is universally appreciated by company reps (recruiters and hiring managers).
A Closing Argument or statement should actually close the deal in the sense that if you don’t ask for the job it can be assumed you do not want the job. So express an interest in the job in question if there is indeed interest in the job and employer.
I personally recall conversations with hiring managers who wondered if their recently interviewed candidate, some I highly recommended, really wanted the job opportunity—simply because they seemed a bit passive and never asked for the job.
So, if you want to standout among other interviewees for a particular job with a particular employer—do your HOMEWORK. Research the employer, employees, news articles, patents, locations, etc. And do make it clear that you are excited about the proposition of working for them. ASK FOR THE JOB--otherwise they may assume you are not interested.
Finally, I would also caution interviewees to understand that interviewers are only human too and sometimes they seem to be unprepared, insensitive (rushed) and/or abrupt. It often happens when a last minute substitution is made in an interview schedule and it seems the newly inserted interviewer is clearly discombobulated because they are.
Amy & Sandra - Thank you for your comments and I couldn't agree more with your thoughts! It's amazing how much volume the "little things"have when representing yourself in an interview. From wardrobe to what we have in our hands carry a lot of weight...so I'm glad we are all reminding ourselves and, hopefully, our candidates as well! Many thanks.
Valentino - Thank you for your comment and I appreciate the depth you went into on each point; another great way to look at each part of the process! It's a great reality to realize that interviewers are humans too and sometimes, they can be just as new to the interview/situation as you are!
I like the rule of thumb of dressing a notch above the position or rest of the office. So if you would be wearing dirty t-shirt and grungy jeans on the job due to work roles that get you dirty then at the least wear pressed jeans and a crisp shirt.
In my opinion refusing all beverages might not be the best way to develop a relationship. If the interviewer is drinking coffee then I think it is OK for the interviewee to accept a cup as well. Part of developing a relationship typically involves consuming something. It helps with bonding on a more subconcious level to accept a beverage. That is sort of a human ritual to eat or drink together. So I would say the idea of not accepting any beverage might make relationship building more difficult.
I think the rule of thumb is if the manager conducting the interview is also partaking of a beverage then it is acceptable to accept a similar beverage as well. But keep the beverage similar. If the manager is drinking water, then just drink water yourself. If the manager is drinking a simple cup of coffee then that is fine for you also, don't go for a soy cappuchino with honey.
I agree that stumbling into an appointment of any kind carrying around a paper Starbucks cup with coffee stains running down the side is sloppy.
I get this very rarely but I did used to have some clients from Mexico City who typically drank wine at lunchtime. In my opinion it is always safer to eschew any alchoholic beverage regardless of what the interviewee might be drinking or the time of day the interview is taking place. Just because it is happy hour somewhere does not mean you need to drink booze.
Elise - I didn't think about the alternative if your interview offered you a beverage while they were having something too..good point! So true, it's automatic to get to know someone during "drinks" or "dinner". Good call. I also agree on the booze part...lets get to know each other a lot more before the alcohol flows at lunch! Thank you for your comments!