Welcome to the third part of our three-part series on interviews – On Their Turf. As you guessed, this is about the face-to-face interview.
We are often are asked how many candidates make it to the face-to-face stage of the hiring process. While it varies by industry, company and role, Carl Sweet of Marketo developed a company ratio of 80 candidates: 8 interviews: 1 hire. If you succeed in getting to the in-person interview, you’re being taken very seriously, and you should double-down on your preparation.
• Dress appropriately. In most situations a business suit is appropriate unless otherwise stated. It should be neat, natural and not attention-grabbing. Your recruiter should know the dress code and help you with this.
• Use jewelry sparingly. Don’t wear anything that makes noise, or can be perceived as too flashy.
• Perfume or cologne should be used sparingly.
• Carry a portfolio and a nice pen. Briefcases can look to cumbersome.
• Always turn off your cell phone.
• Bring business cards.
Prepare Your Portfolio/Presentation Materials
• Bring relevant, current work examples.
• Think carefully about showing work done much earlier in your career; for too many potential employers, older work or work philosophies can be perceived as dated, and this may work against you.
Get Directions and Travel Specifics
• Ask your recruiter for driving or any other travel directions if necessary, even if you will be taking a taxi.
• Find out who you should ask for when you get to the front desk and have phone numbers available so you may call the person if you get lost or run into problems.
• If flying to an interview, make sure that the recruiter has your name spelled exactly the way it looks on your Photo ID. You will need a Photo ID to board a plane. If extreme weather is in the forecast, make sure you prepare your schedule accordingly.
• Plan to arrive at your appointment 15-30 minutes before the scheduled time.
• Planes and trains can be late and traffic can be unpredictable. You may have difficulty finding the address or the particular office once you are in the building or complex.
Use Waiting Time Wisely
• If you must wait, use the time wisely by refreshing your memory. Read your resume and the materials the company provides about themselves in the waiting area.
• Be interested in your surroundings.
• Knowing your resume by heart and not having to refer to it is extremely important.
Mind Your Manners
• Be nice to everyone, even the receptionist and parking lot attendants.
• Make as many friends as you can throughout the interviewing process.
• Say “please” and “thank you” more frequently than usual.
• Be mindful that you are being interviewed by simply everyone – even through lunch or tours.
Setup a “Give and Take” Situation
• Establish a balance between talking and listening.
• Do not try to dominate the conversation.
• Do not over-explain, or lecture to the people that are interviewing you.
• Be a good listener. Take good notes.
• The more information you can learn about the company and their needs, the easier it will be for you to explain how you can add value.
Be Genuine, Interested, and Enthusiastic
• Get comfortable with the people you are interviewing with as soon as you can.
• Be lively and expressive. Never speak in a monotone.
• Don’t be afraid to laugh and smile.
• Make eye contact continually.
• Ask questions, especially about the position and the performance objectives.
• Be enthusiastic about your skills or no one else will be. (Passion is good!) But, do not act overconfident or cocky.
• Never reveal confidential information about your past or present employers.
• Never, never, never speak poorly about a past employer.
• Always use simple language that is easy to understand.
• Speak slowly and clearly but in a natural manner to ensure that you are understood.
Ask About Next Steps
• Be enthusiastic about the position that you are interviewing for if you are interested in it. Say that you are interested!
• Ask for feedback on how well you fit their criteria. One of the most important criteria that you will be evaluated on is whether or not you will fit in the group.
• Be prepared to discuss a variety of subjects other than work – music, sports, travel, etc., especially if you are spending the entire day with a potential employer or having a lunch or dinner interview.
After the Interview
• Immediately upon exiting the interview, make notes of everything you can remember that took place in the interview, including your reactions to various topics and the person or people with whom you interviewed.
Don’t Forget to Call Your Friendly Recruiter
• Remember, while the information is fresh, call you recruiter to de-brief about the interview, so your recruiter can follow-up with the interviewer while the thoughts are still fresh.
It’s a Wrap
You may be the best candidate for the job; however, in the interview, that probably doesn’t matter. Why? Because what does matter is how well you present your capabilities, experiences, accomplishments and yourself in general. If you have made it to the face-to-face hiring stage, you are viable, so get prepared, and convince the hiring team that you are the very best candidate for the position.