Many interviews start with: “Tell me about yourself”. Be ready by creating a personal commercial, also known as your elevator speech. An elevator speech communicates who you are, your experience and the benefits you bring to the company all delivered in about one minute’s time or the time you might have in an elevator with someone. Write your speech out and practice your delivery with a friend until it sounds conversational and not over rehearsed.
Try to find out information about the company and who may be interviewing you. Understanding the company’s line of business, their client base, their revenue and any specialties will go a long way in an interview. Check social media sites like Linkedin, Facebook or Twitter and read a little about their culture and history. You may even find that some of their employees are from your alma mater or have mutual connections. This may give you the opportunity to speak about content you may have read online, it may even spark some questions to ask toward the end of your interview.
Location, location, location! Review online maps, and if your appointment is local take the time to go there and be aware of heavy traffic patterns, travel time, parking or public transportation access. Ideally you should arrive about 15 minutes early. On the day of your appointment, have a contact person’s name and phone number for the company in case you get lost or run late. Remember, you only get one chance to make a first impression!
Know the dress code. Is it formal business attire, business casual, or just casual? Making a good impression starts with the first handshake! Be sure and wear clothes that are not wrinkled, or if interviewing at a casual company you might want to wear jeans but not the distressed type. It’s always better to dress a notch up and present a professional appearance. If you’ve researched the company and you’re still not sure what to wear, call the company’s HR department and ask about their office dress code. Heavy perfume/cologne, distracting jewelry, messy hair, scuffed up shoes and poor hygiene can also contribute to leaving a negative impression.
The Million Dollar Questions
Okay, so maybe we’re not talking millions, but there are common questions asked that could land you the opportunity if answered confidently. There’s lots of information online about common interview questions. Take the time to prepare answers. Reading up on what to expect will also calm your nerves and present you as a solid candidate. Questions about your marital status, religion, sexual orientation, etc. are not only in bad taste, they are illegal. If one comes up, simply reiterate your ability to do the job proficiently. They’ll get the hint.
Moving Onto the Next Level
It’s natural to want to push and find out if you’ve landed the contract opportunity. But don’t be over anxious and too aggressive! Politely ask when they may be making a decision or when you can expect to hear back from the company. Collecting business cards from anyone who you’ve interviewed with will make it easy to follow up with a thank you email or a mailed thank you note.
Remember, that if you don’t get the offer, think about what you might have done differently and keep notes for your next interview. The opportunity you didn’t get may just have been “practice” for the one that’s actually the perfect fit!