Interview Prep

The Basics and Beyond

Dress for Success

Consider the corporate culture carefully. Dress to make a positive, professional impression – not as conservative as an IRS audit, but more like a visit with your banker. That generally means coat and tie or a conservative business suit. Above all, make a neat appearance, keeping visible dirt, tears, and wrinkles to a minimum.

Make a Smooth Entrance and Exit

Arrive right on time. Don’t be late or early. Both can inconvenience the hiring manager. Keep coats and bags you must carry to a minimum. If you bring samples of your work, enclose them in a briefcase or attractive folder. Juggling multiple items can make you appear clumsy and awkward, especially when you are going for that firm handshake.

Sell yourself

Don’t be shy. Tout your accomplishments without coming off too cocky. Ask the hiring manager early in the conversation what s/he wants a person like you to do. Relate all responses to your singular ability to perform the tasks s/he describes. Emphasize your past successes and talk about why you enjoy your work.

Be positive

Emphasize the positive impact you have made. Try not to dwell on past negative experiences. You will appear whiny and unprofessional. Plus, the hiring manager will associate negativity with you and your background.

Prepare Thoroughly

Ask yourself the toughest questions you can conjure about your resume and your job history. Prepare savvy answers in your mind before the interview so that you won’t be caught off guard or appear flustered. For interview prep, consider questions such as:

  • Why are you leaving your current position?
  • Why did you leave your last position?
  • What is your most significant career accomplishment? Why?
  • What would your last supervisor say if asked about your strengths? Weaknesses?
  • What do you expect to be in 5-10 years?
  • What features of your most recent job did you like most? Least?
  • What interests you most about this opportunity?

Differentiate Yourself

Show the hiring manager you bring skills to the job that others cannot. Emphasize your team orientation. Companies want to hire team players, so talk about specific ways you contribute to team effectiveness. Show initiative. Discuss examples of your distinctive competencies and the clever ways you have applied them.

Ask Good Questions

At the end of the interview, the hiring manager may say, “ Do you have any questions?” This can make or break an interview. The caliber of your questions demonstrates to the hiring manager your interest level by showing that you have truly done your homework. Use your recruiter as a resource. Prepare a good list of insightful questions about the position, the company, and the industry.

Send or E-mail a Thank You Note

Whether or not you are working with a recruiter, it is always a good idea to send a hand-written note or a “thank-you e-mail” after an interview. Besides basic politeness, this breaks through the clutter and sends another positive message to the hiring manager about you. Ask for a business card for everyone who meets with you, and jot them all short notes. What a memorable impression you will make on the manager as a team player.