Congratulations! You got an interview!!
Believe it or not, the hard part is done. Your carefully crafted resume targeting your most significant achievements and qualifications has launched your name near the top of the candidate list. The fact that you’ve successfully secured an interview means the hiring manager is interested and wants to know more. At this point, the job is yours to lose!
Preparation is key. Looking prepared sends a signal to the interviewer that you take the job seriously and you are excited about the position. I recommend that you start preparing during your job search. You should already have questions you’d like to ask, and you should have a list of possible questions you’ll be asked from a simple search on the Internet. You should have researched the company and ensured you have a basic understanding of their overall mission and you should have prepared a succinct statement describing what skills or experience you will use to help the company achieve their mission. You’re ready! Here are five things you should do the day before your interview to increase your chances of securing a job offer.
Don’t just know what you’re wearing, know that what you’re wearing is appropriate!
Since I was a kid, my mother established my habit of setting out my clothes the night before an important event. Before church, every component of my outfit was meticulously placed on a chair in my room to ensure my quixotic quest for my left dress shoe wouldn’t cause us to be late for church.
Not only does gathering all of the articles of clothing you will wear to your interview eliminates the stress of looking for a missing belt or sock, it also allows you to examine your outfit to ensure it is free of imperfections that will kidnap your focus and hold it for ransom.
Physically seeing what you will wear has the added benefit of ensuring that you are dressing appropriately for the job you are trying to secure. Although a suit and tie may seem like a staple for job interviews, you may send the wrong message to a company with a more progressive and creative culture. A good idea is to conduct research by visiting the company’s website or the company’s profile on LinkedIn. Look for images of employees engaged in work activities and make note of their dress. Your goal should be to dress one style up from the company’s day-to-day work attire. That means if most of the employees appear to be business casual, then you should shoot for business professional. If the environment looks casual, then business casual should be your goal. A more effective tip is to send a quick note to the recruiter or your point of contact and ask if there is a specific style of dress that is preferred for interviews.
Remember, first impressions are key. As someone who has conducted interviews, I’ll admit when I couldn’t remember a candidate’s name I’ve referred to the candidate by their style of dress (i.e. the guy in the blue suit or the lady in the khakis and polo). You don’t want to make a bad impression or be “the mustard stain guy” or “the lady with the ripped Jimi Hendrix t-shirt”.
Don’t just know where you’re going. Know how long it will take to get there using the best route!
I can remember traversing my city, state, or even the country with a large map that stubbornly refused to fold back into its original state after being spread out. The static map provided only one piece of information – the route from my location to my destination.
Today, technology has provided us amazing tools that facilitate travel management including planned stops, route alternatives, and warnings for possible delays. One of my favorite features of an app I use quite often, Waze, is that I can schedule my trip based on my desired arrival time.
Arriving late to a job interview has two very significant consequences:
Negative perceptions about your enthusiasm, dependability, and commitment.
Increased anxiety and nervousness that could negatively impact your performance during the interview.
My military career taught me that arriving on time is arriving late. I’ve maintained a standard of being 15 minutes early to appointments. I find that 15 minutes gives me plenty of time to take a mental breather and prepare myself for the meeting. It’s always better for you to wait on the interviewer than it is for the interviewer to wait on you!
Don’t just know what you’re going to say. Write down your thoughts, questions, and ideas!
Memory doesn’t impress me. It never has. I find it extremely frustrating when I go to a restaurant with a large group and a member of the waitstaff takes mental notes of the table’s order, especially when I’m dining with picky eaters who make modifications to the menu. The more I hear members of my party deviate from the written description of a menu item, the more anxious I get about my own food. I sit and wait, angrily anticipating that something will be wrong with my meal when it arrives. I’m also milling over the persistent question in my head: “why didn’t he just write it down?!?!”
The day before, create printed, easy to read, notes that you will use during your job interview. A list of prepared questions communicate your interests and your initiative. By asking well-thought-out questions, the interviewer is given a glimpse of your mindset and your expectations. Don’t use canned questions from the Internet. Even if you do find a great question on the web, customize it so that the question is relevant to the job you are seeking and the interview you are participating in.
As the interviewer speaks, take notes when you hear something that you feel requires clarification or follow-up. It’s a good rule of thumb to always ask the interviewer if taking notes is okay. This is a great way of showing your interest and avoiding giving the impression that you aren’t actively listening.
This is not the time to show off your incredible memory skills. Write everything down and refer to your notes to ensure you are accurately conveying your thoughts and ideas. Even in jobs where thinking on your feet is an expectation, no one is impressed with your ability to “shoot from the hip” during a planned event.