So you got your foot in the door and were selected for an interview on the strength of your resume. Now the real work begins. You have to impress the interviewer not just with your skills, experience and qualifications as stated in your resume but with the overall package that is you. It has happened many times that a candidate who was considered to be highly desirable based on his/her resume, ended up falling out of favour with the interviewer before the interview even began based on their poor appearance and body language. Whether it’s your first job or you are a seasoned professional with confidence to share, it is always a good idea to brush up on interview etiquette.
Here are 10 tips to improve your chances before, during and after the interview.
1. Better to overdress than under-dress. Remember your aim is to make a good impression and the first impression is the one created by your physical appearance. The image you present is vitally important. Make sure you are dressed appropriately in business attire. Even if the job is for a more casual environment such as a store or a restaurant it is still important to be neat, tidy and well-groomed.
2. Arrive 10-15 minutes early. Consider on time to be late. Give yourself enough time to get there unrushed, with a few extra minutes to freshen up in the restroom and/or calm yourself before the interview begins.
3. Greet interviewers as Mr. or Ms. As a show of respect. Make eye contact and smile. Eye contact builds trust and smiling naturally, with relaxed lips makes you appear confident, approachable and friendly, that you are someone who can get along with other employees and woo clients. Give a firm, but not overbearing handshake.
4. Stand when someone enters the room as a sign of respect and do not sit unless invited to. It would be impolite and uncomfortable if you take a seat while your interviewer is still on his feet unless, of course, he tells you to take a seat.
5. Cell phone off or on silent but not on vibrate. You and those in the room can still hear your phone ringing if it is on vibrate and this can be very distracting, even annoying.
6. Be aware of posture and body language. Did you know that 80% of our communication is non-verbal? Crossed arms is a defensive posture that makes you look closed off and aloof. Hands in your lap for the entire interview can signal a lack of self-confidence. Playing with your hair or jewelry can make you look nervous or juvenile. Don’t slouch. Sit up straight and lean slightly forward. This says ‘I’m listening and I’m interested’.
7. Let the interviewer take the lead and to set the pace of the interview, do not interrupt. Resist the urge to over explain or to ramble to fill silences.
8. Ask questions. The interview is a two-way street. It is an opportunity for you to sell yourself as well as to learn more about the workplace to see if the position and environment are a good fit for you. Prepare a few questions such as details about the time of work, the corporate culture, and the typical career path of someone holding the position. Not asking questions may signal that you are uninformed or uninterested.
9. Stay professional from the time you arrive until you have left the building, and even the vicinity. Interviewers have been known to observe candidates as they arrive and after they leave. You wouldn’t want to have aced the interview only to commit an unforgivable faux pas in the parking lot.
10. Send a thank you note/email. Not only does it demonstrate courtesy and good manners but it shows you appreciated the interview opportunity and you can also reiterate your interest in the position.