The Interview: Part One

By: Marie Donlon

Image credit: Alex France / CC BY-SA 2.0

Surely you have seen a number of articles all over the internet about helpful tips for job interviews. Although the topic may seem redundant, it almost always bears repeating. The following are some of the most interesting and, hopefully, helpful tips about interviewing as culled from the internet.

The Details

You have waited patiently, but it finally came. The call. Company x likes you, or your resume, so much that they want to interview you. Now what should you do?

The first thing is to ask as many questions about the impending interview as possible. Ask about the format of the interview, i.e., how many people will be interviewing you and their details, names, departments, etc. This attention to detail will serve you well when you set out to research the company and those people who are attending the interview. Find common links with them if possible and know what their positions entail.

Similarly, and possibly more important, make sure you know about the company and the position you are interviewing for. In addition to seeking out information online, you can conduct timely research when you sign up for Google Alerts with that company’s name as a keyword. Anything newsworthy concerning that company will not get past you. Another valuable resource: Twitter. Make sure to look at the company’s Twitter account before your interview to get a sense of what the language or culture of the company might be. Is there a tone to the tweets? If so, adopt a similar tone for the interview.

An unusual finding, but, interesting nonetheless: If you have a say in when to meet with your potential employers, avoid Monday and Friday interview slots. The idea behind this tip is that, much like car manufacturing (i.e., don’t ever buy a car that was built on a Monday or Friday), people are usually distracted on these days either coming off a weekend or preparing for one. The same ideology applies to the first and last interviews of any weekday and interviews that bookend meal times.

According to Forbes magazine, the ideal time for a job interview is at 10:30 a.m. on a Tuesday, citing that people have adjusted to a new work-week and that they are likely to be fully alert for the interview at this time.

Practice

Thanks to the internet, there are hundreds of thousands of available job interviewing tips, hints and resources. Among them are bound to be sample questions of what might be asked during an interview. Grab a friend and ask them to role play with you in the days leading up to the interview. Try out as many of the questions as your "scene partner" will allow, taken from more than one site, if possible. Practice, practice, practice!

You might also consider creating a cheat sheet with bullet points to act as helpful cues to some of the possible answers to potential questions. Don’t create pages upon pages of a novel and read directly from that. Much of an interview is meant to assess how you respond to unexpected questions.

Relax…A Little

While this tip might be more appropriate in the Attire section, its function is two-fold. Whatever it is that gives you confidence—getting a haircut, getting your nails done, getting a massage, shining your shoes—may go a long way in helping you to feel and look your best. Attention to these seemingly subtle details is noticed.

Sleep

You need to sleep the night before the interview. Avoid staying up late and agonizing over the upcoming interview. Instead, relax and aim for an uninterrupted sleep. Also, try to avoid drinking or doing anything that might shape how you feel the next day. It is important to be clear-headed and awake when meeting your potential employers for the first time.

Organize

Before you pack it in for the night, make sure you are physically prepared: laying out an outfit for the interview, making sure to include resumes (take extras), a list of references, and any samples of your work. There is no harm in over-preparing. There is, however, significant harm in underpreparing.

Attire

A good rule of thumb for dressing for an interview is to always overdress. Even if the interviewer or hiring manager has told you that the workplace is casual or relaxed, make sure to look your best.

In addition to your appearance, you might also want to consider some internal tips. If you smoke, avoid smoking in the minutes before your interview. You want to avoid leaving a smell instead of an impression. Similarly, if you overdo it on the perfume, consider applying less before the interview as well. A fragrance that you find enticing might make someone else nauseous. In fact, take stock of anything you consume in the moments before an interview. You don’t want a potential employer to be able to guess at what you have been up to leading into an interview.

Arrive Early

Experts and hiring managers recommend arriving 15 minutes early for an interview. With that extra time, you can consider last-minute preparations, such as organizing your resumes and work samples, or turning off your cell phone (more on this below). Also use this time to dispose of anything you may be chewing (gum, fingernails, etc.) and dump out any coffee or other beverages you might have with you. Not only does it look unprofessional to bring unnecessary items into the interview with you, you are also opening the door to the possibility of spills, embarrassing if you spill on yourself; catastrophic if you spill on the interviewer.

You would think that it is common sense to turn off your phone for an interview, but it is safe to assume that if people don’t know enough to turn their phone off in a movie theater or restaurant that they would likely forget to do it in these surroundings as well. Leave. Your. Phone. In. The. Car.

Check back to read The Interview: Part 2