As a Certified Career Management Coach, I often find that my clients are more than happy to have me create their professional resumes, but not at all interested in having me help prepare them for their interviews (at least initially). When I ask them if they feel prepared, I ususally hear, “Oh, I can talk to anyone. I don’t need any help with that.”
Since they are sitting in my office things typically haven’t worked out that well for them in their job searches and they are now asking for help, particularly with their interviews. Here are the top 5 tips I share with them before we begin the process of videotaped interviewing practice.
1. Know Thy Self. Know your resume inside out. Be able to recall and describe in depth your key accomplishments and key strengths and how they relate to the goals of the company you are interviewing with. Practice, practice, practice. Here’s an example: if you had a golf match scheduled and you hadn’t played in a couple of years, would you just got out and whack away or would you go to the practice tee/green to get reacquainted with your swing and get more comfortable?
2. Be prepared – know where you are going – exactly where you are going, which building, which floor, etc; who you are going to be meeting and their titles. Be sure to take several copies of your resume with you to the interview. Not everyone will have had an opportunity to review it beforehand (believe it or not).
3. Dress one step above the level you are interviewing for. This is the best you will ever look on the job and you will be making many first impressions on the people who have the power to hire you, so do it right. Remember it is one step above what YOU WOULD NORMALLY WEAR ON THE JOB. Look sharp!
4. Know the 4 stages of the interview:
Stage 1 is your introduction, which includes a cool, crisp handshake with good eye contact. Be pleasant, be yourself – your best self. This is a time to be professional, not to tell jokes.
Stage 2 is when they ask questions – typically it feels like an interrogation, but it really is just them gathering information about you so that they can decide if you are the right fit for the job and the company. Be prepared by knowing what types of questions they might ask and practicing your answers to them.
Stage 3 is your turn to ask questions. Carry a portfolio and have 7-10 questions already written down. When it is time to ask a questions, just open your portfolio and begin asking. This shows your level of preparation. Not only will they see that you prepared questions, but also that you have extra resumes as well.
Stage 4 takes place as you are leaving. You need to ‘hook’ them. Let them know that you are very interested in the job and that you would like to know how/when you will be contacted regarding the next step. You may offer to call, if appropriate. Remember to look them in the eyes and thank them.
5. Always send a thank you note/letter. I advise using snail mail as opposed to an email. I think it carries more weight. And over the years, this simple gesture has earned my clients second interviews and lots of compliments.
Those are today’s top interview tips. There is so much more I could say about interviewing, but I will save that for a later time. If anyone has any particular questions please send them my way. I will do my best to answer them.