Interviewing Basics

It’s exciting to interview for a job you are interested in doing; however, simple things send subtle signals that you may or may not be so excited about the job. Here are some tips to help you put your best foot forward and improve your chances of getting hired. Little things mean a lot.

  1. Show up on time. The idea of what “on time” means varies from culture to culture. if you’re interviewing to be an interpreter, teacher, or anyone else who needs to be punctual because others will be waiting for you, then showing up on time might actually mean showing up at least fifteen minutes early in the parking lot of the place you’re going to so you have enough time to gather your thoughts, look in the mirror, and then walk in the door. Showing up late tends to signal that you don’t care about the job or that you are presumptuous about getting hired. Life happens. If you must be late, call as soon as possible.

  2. Smile. You are preparing to interview somewhere you would like to work. You may be nervous, but people like to be around people who have a pleasant demeanor. This is especially true if you are interviewing for a job that requires you to be around other people. No one wants to hire a sourpuss.

  3. Avoid complaining. I once interviewed an interpreter I will never call on simply because she tossed her purse on the interview table, complained about the landscaping in front of the building, and then complained about how difficult it was to come to my office. People tend to hire people who are going to represent their company well and not cause embarrassment or a negative work environment. (See number 2.)

  4. Avoid wearing heavy cologne, after shave, or other perfumed products. Less is more. Some people are allergic to heavy scents and also prone to migraines. Deodorant is fine (and encouraged), but anything else may be too much.

  5. Dress the part. Think of what you would expect someone to wear if they were doing the job you are applying for. Dress shoes, slacks, a button-up shirt, dress, conservative top, and skirts are fitting for most interviews. Assume a more formal atmosphere and discuss the dress code after you get the interview. Conversely, if you get a second interview, don’t assume that you can wear casual clothing. It is better to be overdressed than under-dressed.

  6. Read about the company before the interview. This is an opportunity for you to learn more about what you may be doing and how you might contribute in other ways to the company.

  7. Ask not what the company can do for you, but ask what you can do for the company. In other words, don’t start discussing salary and benefits until you have shared how you would be an asset to the company.

The above tips also hold true even after you’ve been hired. Ask yourself how you can add value to the company. This may open doors to you even after you’ve been hired and can lead to greater responsibility and pay within the company.