In Part One, we covered what you needed to do to prepare for your interview in advance. Who knew there are so many things to focus on while you are actually on-site interviewing! Follow the tips below for continued success in your interview process.
Early Bird Gets the Worm!
Account for unexpected delays. If you arrive late, you have already made a first impression that you may be someone who does not properly plan for the worst. In advance, be sure you are clear as to where you should park. Ask if there are any specific restrictions you should know about accessing the building. Remember to bring your ID in case it is needed by building security.
Be Nice to the Receptionist
When I interview someone – sometimes even before the interview – I stop by my receptionist’s desk to ask what she thought of the candidate. Were they cordial and respectful? If the answer is “no”, so is my decision to hire. Everyone should be treated with respect. Moral of the story: you may not realize that there are people who are part of the interview process even though they are not asking you questions. Think of it as a secret shopper.
Know What You Want and Why
Clearly articulate the reason you are looking to leave your current employer. Shy away from vague statements such as “looking for a more challenging opportunity”, “want to make a bigger impact on an organization” or “want to grow”. Give clear, specific and tangible reasons why you are leaving and what you are looking for in your next position. Always avoid disparaging comments about past employers — one of the quickest ways not to get the job. If you cannot find a way to express your concerns without bashing an employer, future employers may see you as less than articulate or a potential bad apple.
Know Your Value
Do your research on regional salary information. There are numerous sources that publish salary guides, including free ones like salary.com. Be able to substantiate the reason you would be looking for a particular salary. An example may be: “I am looking for $62,000. My research indicates that salary for someone with my level of experience and skill is reasonable. That equates to a “X”% increase over my current salary. I am flexible if I could telecommute one day per week.”
Have two or three questions prepared for each interviewer. These can be general questions like, “What made you join the organization? What keeps you coming back? How will you know when you have identified the right person for the position?” Or you can be very detailed relative to a particular technology/practice/methodology that they may use. Every interviewer expects at least a couple of questions.
Smile — It Gives Your Face Something To Do!
Virtually every position has some aspect that requires you to interact with others. People like to work with upbeat and friendly people. Smiling encourages open communication.
Make sure you thank each interviewer for the time each has taken from his or her day to speak with you about the position. Point out any specific highlights about the company they shared with you that you may not have known — it shows you were listening. Ask the interviewer if you successfully answered all of their questions and if there is anything you should elaborate upon or clarify for them. Ask if there is any particular documentation or prior work samples or portfolio work that you could provide that would be helpful for them to measure your capabilities (do not send proprietary documents). If you feel the position is something you would like, ask for the job. Ask what next steps are and when you can expect those next steps to be decided.
Follow Up: The Lost Art of the Interview
You would be amazed at how often candidates DO NOT do this. Get business cards from everyone you meet. Send a thank you message to each including a particular piece of the interview you found went well. Address something you may have learned about the company that you did not know. This may also be an opportunity to expand on a topic you may have felt you did not answer as thoroughly as you would have liked to. If there is an appropriate sample of work you want to share, send it. If you failed to obtain a business card, a quick call back to the receptionist or recruiter should get you the information you need. A thank you note, whether by email or snail mail, is an easy way to stand out from the rest!
So – that’s it — a simple formula for landing the job of your dreams. On one final note — keep in mind that not only do you want the potential employer to like you, but you need to be impressed by them as well. Take notice and take notes. Be sure you take the time to get a feel for the culture while you are there, pay attention to the commute, and make sure the job “feels right”. Good Luck!