We have discussed being prepared for the interview with a killer resume and your head full of information about the company and its philosophies. Getting an interview is half the battle, but now you must step things up even more for the actual face-to-face with the person or people who can change your future. You want to stand out from the crowd of applicants that likely want the position as much as you do. When I say, “stand out,” I don’t mean be goofy, sexy, or dress inappropriately. The way to win over an employer is with excellent qualifications, a great personality, and the ability to hold your own in the interview. The following suggestions are from my personal experience. I hope you have much success in your job search as I have in the past.
Being late is one of the worst things you can do if you’re trying to make a good first impression. I remember walking in to an interview five minutes late because of a traffic problem. Of course, I felt horrible but I decided not to say anything about it and just greet him normally. Well, that turned out to be the wrong thing to do. The manager actually scolded me for not apologizing to him. I was mortified to say the least. So, for god sakes don’t be late! In fact, be 15 minutes early. Get explicit directions before you leave the house, that way you know exactly where you are going. Map Quest is good, but it won’t give you any specifics about road construction or directions for a tricky building or parking lot. Make a quick call to the company and ask for any additional information you might need.
Dress to Win
Dressing properly for an interview has a way of saying, without words, that you will fit in with the company. Whether you like it or not, that person sitting across the desk will judge you on your clothing, make-up, shoes, and even your brief case or lack of one. This doesn’t mean that you should always dress up for the meeting; it has more to do with wearing what is appropriate for whatever position you are applying. For example, for an office job-from president to office clerk-wear a suit or dress (not a cocktail dress or pants suit). For a technical or production job, clothing that is more casual may be worn. Never wear loud, distracting clothing or lots of jewelry. One ring per hand is a good rule to follow.
If you don’t own the proper attire for your interview, there are organizations that will provide women with job hunting essentials. “Dress for Success is an international charity that operates in 90 cities across seven countries. It provides a free service to disadvantaged women which includes quality suits and accessories for job interviews, advice on hair and makeup, as well as seminars on various topics including interview skills, professional development, mentoring and career advice. It caters for women of all ages, ethnicity and background including single moms, widows, victims of domestic violence, homeless women, refugees and asylum seekers. The charity has been operating since 1997 and so far has been a huge success, helping over 450,000 women. It aims to provide physical, practical and emotional support to help women develop economic independence and make the best of themselves.”
The funky, hip style in which you wear your hair while out on the town to express your delightful, free spirit may not be good for the interview unless you are in a creative field like hair designing or art sales. That doesn’t mean you have to be boring; just tone it down a bit for the first meeting. Light, flattering make up and cologne is always best as is trimmed nails with neutral shades of polish. That way if you accidentally chip one on the way it won’t be as noticeable.
It’s a good idea to carry an emergency kit that contains the following: hairspray, the nail polish you are wearing, a nail file, Tide to go pen, extra pair of pantyhose, tissues, lint brush, comb or brush, and a needle and thread in the colors of your garments. I say be prepared for the stupid little things that almost inevitably happen when you have an important meeting.
Eye contact, eye contact, and then there is eye contact! I can’t stress this important point any stronger. If you can’t look the interviewer in the eye, you are seen as someone who might be hiding something, has no self-confidence, or is ill prepared. This is your moment to shine. A warm smile, a firm handshake, and an intelligent verbal greeting that instantly says you are the perfect match for the position will impress any hiring agent. I suggest that you even practice your opening words in front of a mirror or family member.
The Two Way Street
Keep in mind that the interviewer may not be experienced at asking the questions that will bring out your best answers. I’ve had interviews that were downright boring from the standpoint of the company’s representative. In this case, you have to know how to talk about yourself and your experience with a positive flow that will keep the conversation going. You must be in control if you want it to go in the direction that will win you the position. On the other hand, you have to listen carefully to the questions and statements of your interviewer. Intelligence shows when you speak with authority and understanding. Don’t be afraid to ask complex questions about the company, the job, and even the future goals of the business.
Quick Communication Tips
- Be expressive (alive, animated speech).
- Be articulate (pronounce words clearly).
- Be concise (not too wordy or rambling).
- Be focused (to the point).
- Be direct (straightforward).
- Don’t use words like um, like, and you know.
Make sure to practice these skills before you need them. In the next part of this series, I will focus on damage control and turning negatives into positives. Until then, be well.