Interview Basics

February 2013

From the time you arrive (a little bit early) until long after you leave (and your follow-up email or note has been received), your actions and words are being noted by the prospective employer. Here are some tips that will help separate you from the average interviewee:

  1. Arrive at the interview no more than 10-15 minutes early. You do not want to get there too early, as it is inconsiderate to the interviewer. But – never be late!
  2. The first part of your interview is always the receptionist. Most companies will ask their receptionist if the candidate was polite, if they were professional, or if they would fit into the culture of the company.
  3. Look directly into the person’s eyes, smile, and use their name. Remember they are not “mind readers”-the only way the interviewer can judge you is based on your external reactions.
  4. Always speak positively about your company and others with whom you work. Never make derogatory remarks about previous or present employers.  Even when asked directly what you like least about your company, always preface it with a positive.  Explain how you benefited from your experience there, give a short reason for your departure and move on.
  5. Be passionate (without being phony) about your current or previous job and how you can contribute to this firm. A good way not to be nervous is to focus on what you can do for them and how you can make an impact on the firm if given the opportunity.
  6. Do not concern yourself with salary, commission, bonuses or vacation on the initial interview.
  7. Never answer questions with a simple “yes” or “no”.  Use specific examples of what you’ve done or what you would do.
  8. Stress your achievements, records and accomplishments.
  9. The more you prepare, the better you perform.  By taking time to reflect on all you’ve accomplished, you realize that there is a tremendous amount you can bring to the table.  Be eager to share this!
  10. Practice, practice, practice! You should be prepared to answer any question that they ask of you. If you are finding yourself needing to come up with answers on the spot, you haven’t prepared enough! Speak clearly and slowly, and if necessary take notes throughout the interview.
  11. Get as many business cards as you can, so you can follow up after the interview is completed. Always send at least an email after the interview, if not a thank note in the mail. Thank them for their time and consideration, and confirm again your passion and interest in the position.