Pair that information with the unstable job market due, in part, to the rise in the number entering the job market and employees taking later retirement, you must work harder to convince interviewers you are the best for the job. Unless you have a guaranteed foot-in-the-door, then you must ensure that your interviewing skills are honed to perfection. This article offers to help you toward that goal.
First, the interviewer has formed her impression of you in the first thirty seconds of the interview, obversely; it takes twenty-nine good meetings to correct a bad first impression. Very few interviewees have the opportunity to correct that bad first impression. It is imperative that you take the interview process seriously and conservatively. For example, regardless of the age of the interviewer or how liberal the company seems, do not expose tattoos or wear multiple piercings. It is surprising how many interviewers are turned off by multiple piercings and tattoos. Women should limit earring wearing to the traditional pair worn in the earlobes, and men to a small, tasteful gold stud worn in the earlobe. If you feel that this compromises your personal identity then you may need to reconsider your employment choices. Of course, if you are interviewing for a tattooing artist position or a piercing specialist then displaying your abilities might be appropriate. The same is true regarding your choice of clothing.
All clothing should be clean and pressed. This shows the interviewer that you not only take pride in self but you respecting the interviewing process as well. This is not the time to show neither your hip-and-happening style nor how gorgeous your figure is. If you are female that doesn't mean that you have to be covered from neck to ankle to wrist but it does mean that you want to keep the interview focused on your professional qualifications, this is not the time nor place for anything tight, plunging, split, or high. Regarding make-up, less is better than more and some is better than none. The object of make-up is to enhance features not provide a mask. Daytime make-up is supposed to be light and, like your clothing, should not distract. Color is another consideration, women should wear grey, tan, or navy. Though black is considered conservative it presents too harsh an image. For the men you don't have to show up in a three piece suit, unless that is the standard office attire, however, it should reflect a conservative air. No matter how clean they are, or how starched and pressed, jeans are never appropriate, the same is true with t-shirts. Men should think slacks and a dress shirt with matching belt and shoes. Men should consider black, navy, or brown. Both men and women may wear other colors, of course, but keep to a subdued shade once again avoiding distracting from your goal. When you find an outfit you like, look and feel comfortable in, use that as your interviewing outfit. You certainly don't want to show up in something that makes you feel uncomfortable and spend your interview time fidgeting or worried about how you look.
Secondly, this goes hand in hand, as it were, with the first: shake hands upon meeting the interviewer. It is amazing how powerful this simply acts is. The correct handshake is very simple: the web, the skin between your forefinger and thumb, of your hand completely touches the web of the interviewers, wrap your fingers around the other hand, squeeze firmly (not tight enough to cause discomfort, this is an interview not a wrestling match), pump twice slightly (you aren't pumping water), look the interviewer in the eyes and say, "Hello, I'm _____, nice to meet you." This sets an excellent tone for the interview and shows your willingness to take charge of a situation; initiative is a very desirable trait in all jobs. Women have developed a weak finger or half palm handshake that interprets as submissive and indecisive. Women can have firm handshakes and still appear feminine, or well mannered. Practice the handshake and greeting until it becomes second nature to you.
Next, research the company. You need to do this for two reasons: a) to see if the company fits your professional goals and style, b) by sharing your knowledge of the company with the interviewer you show that you, once again, to the initiative to research the company and come prepared. This may be the one thing that separates you from the other candidates. If possible, visit the company during work hours and get a feel of the working environment, how the employees relate to one another, or how they relate to customers. Which leads us to the fourth point, prepare for the interview.
Every interviewer wants to know what you can offer the company. Ask yourself, "Why should they hire me?", then prepare, and practice the response. Compose a list of your strong suits and talents, not just your qualifications. What are you bringing to the table? Remember you aren't the only interview of the day, week, or month. In some cases, a job is held open until it's filled; make sure they fill the position with you. Actively listen to the interview so that you can make sure your questions and concerns are addressed.
When asked about previous employment, do not get into boss-bashing or office gossip. Any negative comments can be construed as sour grapes and unprofessional since the person or persons can't defend themselves. If you did leave your previous employ with bad feelings rehearse a neutral response, "The company's goals and mine were no longer in sync," "There were few opportunities for professional growth," etc. The idea is to keep the focus on your positive attributes and not water cooler talk.
Most interviewers want to know if you have any questions, have some. Do not ask about pay scale or benefits until you have been offered the position. This is taboo and can end the interview. Do ask the interviewer how long she's been with the company, where did she start, and where do she see herself in five years. This gives you an opportunity to find out how the company views long-term employees and if they promote from within. It also give the interviewer an opportunity to talk about herself, everyone loves to talk about themselves. Most importantly, it takes the pressure off you so that you can gather your thoughts. Ask the interviewer what she likes about her job and the company. Once again, this gives you a more personal insight into the company. It is proper to ask how and when you will be notified that the position has been filled.
If the interview involves a meal, do not drink alcohol even if the interviewer asks or if the interviewer has a drink. Often this is a test to see if you can control you're drinking. If you are not familiar with eating etiquette then take the time to learn the basics: which utensil to use when, how to drape your napkin properly. Oh, and your mother was right, elbows off the table when eating. All libraries and bookstores have books on etiquette. If the interview is an entry-level executive position then often the executive will have to take a client out for a meal, companies do not like to be embarrassed by inappropriate behavior.
Be honest about availability dates and any scheduling concerns. If you are the perfect fit for a position then most companies will work with any scheduling problems, within reason. In addition, most companies understand that plans made before the interview can't be changed, but few companies tolerate lying or orchestrated dishonesty and that includes saying, "Technically, I didn't lie," failure to disclose is lying. If plans can be changed then change them but if you can't then list, or tell, all conflicts and be willing to compromise.
Prepare a resume, even if you've filled out an application and if it only has a few entries, remember volunteer work shows leadership abilities and other real world experiences that translate well in the workplace. Do not use overly decorated stationery or colored ink, these only distract from your qualifications and often come across, to the interviewer as childish. When the interviewer concludes the interview, present the resume saying, "I'd like to leave my resume with you, it gives a more complete picture of my experience," for example and conclude with a handshake.
Two days after the interview send the interviewer a thank you card. This shows your knowledge of etiquette, often needed in the professional world, and keeps your name in the forefront of the interviewer's mind. It may be the one thing that separates you from another equally qualified applicant.