By Catherine Pistole
Securing a job interview is a big step in the right direction of a job search.
But, did you know that you can start to unravel your chances before the interview even gets started? Whether you’re looking for a job that’s new or newer, many focus and rehearse for the main interview, but part of this process is the pre and post interview. They can be just as important, if not more. You’ve got to be on the mark during all of these steps. Overlooking this fact can be costly.
If you’re light on job experience or self confidence, having some knowledge will empower you. Those that are informed will always have an edge over the competition.
Job candidates that focus in these areas will increase the odds at keeping the green lights on and the doors open to proceed.
Ten Best Things to do Before the Job Interview Starts
- Begin your job interview “in the parking lot”. Before you enter an organization’s inner space, you may be coming into contact with their employees as you enter the parking lot, building lobby or elevator. Be on your best behavior to all once you arrive at their address.
2. Make a superb first impression. Never underestimate the power of the first impression. It counts and is critical! Always has and always will. There are no second chances at this in business.
3. Offer a firm handshake. It shows enthusiasm and confidence. When it comes to a handshake, all men and women are created equal. A recent college grad can offer just as powerful a handshake as the Chairman of the Board. A weak handshake gives the perception of disinterest or low energy.
4. Make eye contact. This is complementary to the handshake and another area that gives you an opportunity to show your high level of interest and confidence (even if you’re feeling a bit shaky). Direct eye contact helps instill trust. Looking away or down can say you’d rather be doing something else or have something to hide.
5. Pay attention to your dress. Sticking to the basics here is correct. This is not the time to make a fashion statement. Go with something tasteful, classic and professional. What you carry your resume in is part of your dress. It also shows you are aware of the entire presentation you are making. No shabby folders here!
6. Treat the receptionist well. Speak clearly and give your full name and information about who you are there to see. Don’t be a needy guest while you’re waiting for your appointment. Be polite and respectful. Don’t ask for anything more than water or directions to the restrooms.
Learn how to make small talk. There is an art to doing this and you should be prepared with a few topics other than the weather.
7. Stay away from anything that expresses a strong opinion or is controversial (i.e., politics, headline news, sports teams and figures, religion). Safer topics are food, travel, art and music.
8. Have descriptive examples in mind. Make sure you have excellent examples to give during the interview of how you made a difference, achieved results and got along well with others. Despite a possible lack of experience, you’ve been on teams, completed projects, conducted research, performed volunteer work or had part time employment. Pull from these to explain how you add value.
9. Print up a business card and hand them out. Even if it’s your first time seeking a job in a professional field, print up a business card with your name and contact information on it, especially your email address. Offering a business card as you meet your interviewers is super professional and will show you have initiative. Besides, you’ll have them ready for possible contacts with job leads that come along. You can get 100 business cards printed up for about $9.95 plus S&H at www.overnightprints.com.
10. Plan your trip. Make a trial run to the interview location so you’re aware of any conditions that may exist or would cause a delay. Don’t get caught off guard and arrive late for your interview. Lateness will put a hurdle in your way with a prospective employer. Any travel issue will heighten your stress level and it will show.
Following these easy tips adds the polish that will help you shine and elevate the starting point of your interview. It shows you paid attention to the details. Often, it’s the small things and what you do behind the scenes that are very telling. Employers know that and are looking for all the ways they can learn more about you. They know that what they see before them at the interview table is only a portion of the picture, which includes what you do before the interview even starts. Be aware of that fact and you’re certainly headed for distinction in your job search.
Catherine Pistole holds a BS in Business Administration and has worked for over twenty years in human resources and management at various companies in sectors coast to coast. A native New Yorker, her career began in the U.S. Navy. She later entered the private sector and has worked in the legal, hospitality and entertainment industries. For the past eleven years, Catherine has worked in the financial services area of Wall Street and presently holds a position as Director of Human Resources at a private equity firm in Manhattan. She is also author of “The Temp Factor” book series dedicated to quality management and best practices in the temporary staffing arena. A passion for education and training in the business environment has always remained a special interest. Catherine currently resides on the south shore of Long Island. firstname.lastname@example.org www.catherinepistole.com