So you want join a great team at a great firm and you want to be the perfect person for the job, right? Let’s be honest, you have got to nail that interview. In a lot of cases, there’s more than one round and/or more than one person you need to impress and “click” with. We know this is stressful for the majority of job seekers, so we’re going to break it down to a simple science to take some of the pressure off of your shoulders. Part 1 of our interview segment discusses etiquette and what to do and not to do before you sit down with your interviewer.
Research, research, research! The internet offers so much today to help you prepare for your interview. Unfortunately job descriptions aren’t always as detailed as we’d like them to be, but before an interview there are two things you need to do. One: gain as much knowledge about the company and the person/people you will be interviewing with. Two: be able to verbalize clearly and concisely why you are the perfect fit for this job. Lacking knowledge about the company and the position only tells the interviewer one thing; you don’t really care about this opportunity or this firm.
Eternally important. It’s your first impression and, if you want the job, you do not want it to be your last impression. Every industry is different and we get that, but just because you know the advertising agency you’re speaking with tomorrow is uber casual doesn’t mean you need to be too. You want the interviewer to take you seriously and it’s a hard sell if you look like you just rolled out of bed; regardless of your perfect resume and gift of gab. So our cardinal rule is and always will be: overdress! Look sharp and odds are you’ll feel confident and it will transfer over into the way you communicate during the interview.
This rule will never change. Arrive 15 minutes early. So leave your home with ample time for train/bus/traffic delays. This leads me to an important side note: always research how long your commute will be beforehand, check for delays online and account for walking from public transportation to your final destination. For the ladies—we know nobody wants to travel in heels, but if you’re going to do a shoe change, try to do it a block away. You never know who is in the lobby as you balance and wobble into your pumps and stash away the flats. Lastly, if you leave too early and have 30 minutes to kill, don’t check in with reception and hope they will take you. Grab a coffee, prep more or make a phone call to pass time. Appointments are scheduled for a reason and arriving too early may make you seem too eager and inconsiderate of a manager’s calendar.
What to bring
Resumes. This seems fairly obvious, but over the years, you’d be shocked to know how many times people don’t bring their resumes. Even if your interview is for a temporary or contract position and you are 100% positive that your agency recruiter sent your resume to HR, it doesn’t matter. It doesn’t mean they printed it and it’s a common courtesy to offer a copy to them. While you should have your resume pretty much memorized, always have a copy for your reference should you find yourself blanking for words and beginning to panic. Fancy resume paper is lovely, but it’s expensive and not always feasible, so don’t worry about it! Regular printer paper is fine. Also, bring at least 5 copies with you. You never know who else you are going to meet! If you don’t have a folder to put your resumes in, try and bring a structured purse/suitcase that will ensure your resume copies don’t wrinkle. Don’t fold them in half to make them fit! Would you wear wrinkled clothing to an interview? (We hope not!) The resume is the paper extension of you, so keep it neat and tidy—which includes no formatting, grammar or spelling mistakes!
References. Always have a list of references on you. You don’t need to immediately present these upon meeting someone, but at the end of the interview, if they don’t ask for them, go ahead and offer it to them. It indicates you have nothing to hide regarding your prior employment and will save them time should they end up emailing you for them the following day. Your reference list should always be a previous supervisor from at least your last two places of employment (dependant on how long you’ve been in the work force). Giving coworkers as references can suggest your boss wasn’t your first choice and may raise red flags to a potential employer.
Portfolio. If you are interviewing for a position where they might want to see examples of your work, make sure you have it. If you need to pull it up on a lap top, make sure you have it easily accessible and that you have no inappropriate backgrounds on your computer!
Something to write with…and write on. Some recruiters are against candidates taking notes during an interview, so if you absolutely MUST do this, ask the interviewer if they mind. If notes aren’t your thing, just be sure to have a pad and pen handy just in case your interviewer wants to give you information for after you leave.
What not to bring
Excess baggage. Of course we understand that you might need to change shoes or that you want to hit the gym afterwards, but try and keep your luggage to a limit. It can be quite awkward taking a long stroll down a corridor towards an interview room while you try to juggle a purse, a shopping bag and a gym bag.
Drinks or Food. If the interview is impromptu and you offer to bring coffee up, great, go for it. But most of the time your interview will be pre-planned so, please, throw out your refreshments! We know you thought you would have time to finish that Starbucks latte, and as heart-breaking as it might be, you’ve got to toss it. Hide the snack bars or the half-eaten wrap. They are all distractions away from the most important thing—you!
Turn them off or switch to silent. Vibrations may not be as loud as a ring tone, but it’s most definitely distracting. Also, if you were listening to music, make sure you’ve turned it off. The dulled sound of your favorite Pandora station blaring from your headphones in your bag or pocket will suddenly become quite noticeable in your quiet interview space.
These guidelines are here to help you, but we know life throws curve balls. If you happen to “break” one of these rules, always acknowledge them and say sorry! A genuine apology can go a long way in shifting an interviewer’s first impression.
We’ll be following up with tips for during your interview, so check back soon! Want more advice, contact us today! Get in touch with one of our recruiters by submitting your resume to firstname.lastname@example.org or learn more about us at http://www.classicwestchester.com/.
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First Choice Staffing is a boutique staffing firm located in midtown Manhattan with another office in White Plains. With over 25 years in specialty recruiting, our areas of expertise span several disciplines. We recruit for positions on a temporary, temporary to permanent, and permanent basis. Over the years, our firm has proven to be a consistent leader in the staffing industry, providing exceptional talent to small, mid-sized and Fortune 500 companies in the tri-state area. So whether you are a company seeking a new addition to your team, or a job seeker ready to expand your professional horizon, make us your first choice!
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