Maximizing Your Impact in Interviewing

by Stacie Garlieb, Successful Impressions

Preparation can make the interview process much less stressful and allow you to focus on explaining the benefits your skills can provide the employer.  Dress for the job that you want, being career and company specific.  Suits are always the safest choice – better to be more than less professionally dressed.  Be sure not to wear anything that you haven’t worn before.  If you have new clothes, wear them around the house a few days before to be completely comfortable in them. 

Before an interview, research the company via internet, personal contacts, employees and journals. You can also use social media sites such as Facebook and LinkedIn to look at the company’s updates. Find information about upcoming events, products, services, or other facts that you could use to answer the question, “What do you know about our company?”

A few additional things that should be on your ‘to do’ list to prepare for a face-to-face interview include:

· Drive to the location of the interview at least one day prior to determine time needed to arrive.

· Purchase any extra interview materials days in advance.

    - This includes resume paper, clothing or accessories, a portfolio with pad of paper, or other materials to use during the interview.

· Call the interviewer the prior day to confirm time and location.

    - Email confirmation is fine if you can’t reach the person directly, but a phone call would be the preferred method to confirm.

· Make multiple copies (at least 3) of your resume on resume paper.

     -  If you are a candidate that the interviewer feels should move forward in the process, they may have you meet with a colleague or someone in a supervisory role while you are at their office.  By having extra copies of your resume, you are prepared.

· Have a leather (or similar) portfolio with pen and pad of paper.

    - Use this to write down the questions you are going to ask at the end of the interview.

· Don’t carry purses or backpacks into interviews.  Briefcases or professional carriers are appropriate.

· Bring copies of supporting documentation (presentations etc.) showing specific skills that are relevant to that position for the interviewer.

Think about what types of questions you may be asked.  Review the job description – if ‘Excellent communication skills’ is listed as the top qualification, then you can expect that examples of how you effectively communicated with others will be asked in different ways during the interview.  Keeping the interviewer’s attention is much easier if you have practiced in advance and thought about the examples that show you are the best candidate for the job.

· Use varied examples showing your academic, work, and extracurricular experiences.

· Be specific (SMART) in describing examples of your skills and past experiences. (Specific, Measurable, Action-oriented, Result-based, Time bound)

· Discuss YOUR role in group projects, activities, and programs.  We don’t want to hear about the other people in the group – you are the one we want to possibly hire.

Practicing your answers in advance with a friend or family member will help you to be focused and less nervous when you meet with any interviewer. At the end of the interview, ask for a business card to follow up, if not available; get the interviewer’s information from the staff.

Stacie Garlieb is the President of Successful Impressions, LLC which assists students and working professionals with career search processes and skills. For more information about the resources her company provides including helpful books and resources to guide you through building your resume and your job search, go to www.successfulimpressions.net  and www.bestresumebuilder.com.