Dressing for Success
Think about the image you want to project during your interview and then choose an appropriate outfit that will create a positive perception and is appropriate. You do not get a second chance at a first impression. It is extremely important to make it a good one.
- Use the Internet to research the company, industry and competitors to determine suitable interview outfits.
- When in doubt, err on the side of being slightly over dressed, rather than show up looking too casual.
- If you don’t have an appropriate outfit, visit a large department store and ask for help. If you borrow clothing from a family member or friend, make sure to try it on beforehand to ensure proper fit.
- Make sure that your clothes are cleaned and pressed.
As a general rule of thumb:
- Suit or subdued sports jacket or blazer with dress slacks
- Long-sleeved, buttoned, shirt with collar (tucked in)
- Tie for business positions or more formal cultures
- Business shoes (no sneakers) with dress socks
- Trimmed fingernails and adult haircut
- Minimal cologne
- Pants suit or dress suit (skirt must not be above the knee)
- Basic flats or pumps no taller than 3” (no strappy sandals, no open-toed shoes, and no platforms/wedges)
- Minimal makeup/neutral nail color
- Neat, well-groomed hairstyle
- Minimal perfume and simple accessories
What to Do
Become familiar with the company through its website, particularly the “About Us” section and their mission statement. If you know the name(s) of your interviewer(s), search LinkedIn and read up on their background. Find out who the competition and major players in the market are.
Remember who interviewed you
Before you leave, ask for business cards from those who interviewed you. If you have a business card, be sure to hand it to your interviewer after shaking hands.
Practice speaking in front of a mirror, or ask a friend or family member to interview you. There are also online mock interview tools that allow you to choose your questions or have them randomly chosen for you. The webcam feature records you and lets you playback to see how you did: http://business.fiu.interviewstream.com/
Use positive body language
Eye contact, good posture, a smile, cheerful demeanor, and firm handshake will get you a long way in an interview.
Take your time
Take time to think before you answer questions and avoid bumbling to an uncomfortable halt. Be sure to speak clearly.
Employers want to see you’re interested enough to hear more about the post or company and will look kindly on any well-placed questions. Take some time before the interview to write down some questions you have thought of and bring them with you to the interview to ask when the time is appropriate.
Bring proper materials
Bring a pad of paper, a pen, and multiple copies of your resume. If you’re unsure how many people will be interviewing you, bring along surplus copies. It will show that you’re highly prepared.
What Not to Do
Unless you have a very good excuse and ring ahead to rearrange, turning up late for an appointment is a costly mistake. For any business meeting or interview, it is important to arrive AT LEAST 15 MINUTES BEFORE THE SCHEDULED START TIME. Anything later is considered late. Always take traffic and parking into account and consider making a “test run” the day before if you are unfamiliar with the area.
Fidget with unnecessary props
This can include mobile phones, nail files and chewing gum. TURN OFF your cellphone. Under NO circumstance should you check your cell phone at any point in the interview.
Speak negatively about your current employer
Never complain about your current employer – it won’t reflect well on you.
Get personal or too familiar
Avoid giving sob stories about how much you need the job due to the mountain of debt you’ve accrued. Also, don’t appear over-confident, overly familiar, or flirty. Show the best side of yourself.
Using foul and inappropriate language is generally not acceptable at any time in the workplace, so at an interview it won’t win you any accolades.
How to Handle Sensitive Issues
Money and time off are examples of sensitive issues that may be on your mind. It IS appropriate to ask what the offering salary is for the position if it has not been disclosed by the end of your interview. It is NOT appropriate to negotiate that salary during the interview. Leave negotiations for a later time once you have received an official offer. Similarly, if you already know you would have to miss some time at work (for a hopefully very important reason that cannot be changed!), the interview is not the appropriate time to discuss this. Wait until you receive an official offer, then make sure you let the company know right away.
After Your Interview
It is extremely important to send a thank you email to those who interviewed you. It is best to do this the same day or next day, at the latest. If you forgot to get business cards for those who interviewed you, try an internet search for their name, or call the company’s HR department.
An individual thank you email should be written to each person you interviewed with. Your emails should thank them for taking the time to meet with you, reiterate your interest in the company and the position, and emphasize your excitement to hear back from them.
You might not think you’ve performed well in an interview, but a simple email reiterating your interest is a courtesy that might just pay off in the long run.