Almost all job seekers recognize the importance of preparing for a job interview. And that means more than just showing up with your resume in hand and a smile on your face. You probably know at least some of the things you should do to get ready. However, have you also thought about what you should not do - before, during and after an interview?
We've compiled a "Top 10-12" list of Do's and Dont's for the before, during and after stages of any job interview. Follow these and you can be assured you'll be ready to make a success of that interview - and confidently and quickly move to the top of the Hiring Manager's "hiring" list.
Before the job interview - before you arrive at the company
1. Do research the company (and the interviewers, if possible) to learn as much as you can. Don't act cocky during the interview to show off your research
2. Do realize that there are different types of job interviews and find out which type you will be having. Don't walk into a surprise!
3. Do review possible interview questions and prepare your responses. Don't memorize your answers or over rehearse so you won't sound rehearsed at the interview.
4. Do role-play if possible with a family member or friend and ask for feedback on your presentation. Don't ask someone who can't be objective, however.
5. Do take a practice run to the interview location to be sure you know exactly where it is and how long it may take you to arrive. Don't get lost (and if for some crazy reason you do get lost on the way, don't say that to the interviewer).
6. Do plan to arrive 5-10 minutes early. Don't arrive any earlier or you may appear desperate. And if you unexpectedly are running late, Do call the interviewer or other company representative to let them know your expected arrival time.
7. Do understand that your interview begins way before you greet the interviewer(s). It actually begins the moment you begin the trip to that interview. Be alert and courteous at all times. You never know who you may interact with as you head to the interview. Don't lose your cool. Be alert and courteous to everyone!
8. Do ask what a company's dress code is and dress the part. Don't assume you automatically know even if the company is similar to a previous employer.
9. Do focus on hygiene. Brush your teeth prior to the interview. Use a mouthwash or have a breath mint. Don't smoke before - or during - the interview, even if the interviewer smokes and offers you a cigarette, etc.
10. Do turn off your cell phone or pager (or put it in silent vibration) and don't turn it back on until the interview is completed.
During the interview - from the moment you arrive until you leave
1. Do greet the receptionist with respect. Here is where you can make a great first impression. Don't assume they won't be asked for their input after you leave.
2. Do complete a job application without comment, if you are given one. Don't balk and say your resume has everything on it.
3. Do bring additional resumes and or job skills "sales brochures" and offer to all interviewers. Don't expect everyone to already have a copy.
4. Do greet interviewer(s) by title; e.g., Mr., Mrs., Ms., Dr., and last name. Don't assume you know the pronunciation of a last name. If the least unsure, ask the receptionist before going into the interview.
5. Do shake hands with anyone who offers their hand. Shake their hand firmly. Don't have a limp or clammy handshake; and wait until you are offered a seat before sitting down. And remember that body language often speaks louder than words. Sit upright; be alert and look interested at all times. Make good eye contact with the interview. Don't slouch, fidget, become distracted or stare at the interviewer.
6. Do demonstrate enthusiasm for the company and job; and a high level of energy and confidence. Don't be soft-spoken, overly assertive or appear anxious or desperate to get the job (or just any job to become employed), however.
7. Do sell yourself. Make certain that your accomplishments come across to the interviewer(s) in a way that sincerely speaks directly to their company's needs. Show how you can benefit their company. Don't expect your application or resume to do the sales job for you, and don't offer any negative information about yourself.
8. Do take advantage of your time with the interviewer to evaluate them and their company as a potential employer and your mutual "fit". Don't overlook an opportunity to ask questions as you may appear as though you are not interested.
9. Do answer questions completely. Answer truthfully and succinctly but no "yes" or "no" answers. Offer examples, explanations; showcase your talents, skills, and accomplishments. Don't over-answer, however. Know when to stop.
10. Do be ready for the unexpected questions. To give yourself time to think, repeat the question or ask the interviewer to repeat it. A brief 1-2 second pause is OK. Don't however, fall back on long, uncomfortable pauses or statements such as, "Wow, that's a good one!" which make you appear unprepared.
11. Do attempt to delay any discussion about salary, vacations, bonuses, etc., until after you have an offer. Be prepared for a question about your salary requirements with a generic response. If you know the salary range the company is offering and it is acceptable to you say, "I'm sure we can find agreement within your salary range." Don't initiate the discussion.
12. Do constantly act as if you are determined to get the job and never close the door on an opportunity until you are positive it is not for you. Don't shoot yourself in the foot if you want the opportunity by bringing us personal issues, controversial topics, anything negative about former colleagues and employers, telling jokes, using poor language, chewing gum
Closing the interview and afterwards - your work is not done just because the interview is
1. Do close the interview by expressing your interest in the job. Ask what the next steps are, and when the company will make a hiring decision. If appropriate based on how the interview has gone, close the sale - ask for the job. Don't jump the gun, however.
2. Do ask for business cards from each person you interviewed with. Don't make assumptions about even simple names; get the spelling if you can't get the card.
3. Do capture the highpoints of the interview immediately after. Don't forget crucial details.
4. Do have an action plan in place based on a strong, well-thought out interview follow-up strategy. This can give you a huge competitive advantage over others who interviewed for the job and don't follow-up. Don't let this be a haphazard activity with no structure; just a letter here, a call there. There's no better way to lose an opportunity than to give follow-up little importance. And there's no better tool to use to reinforce the benefits you can bring a company than recognizing and using the real value of follow-up.
5. Do write thank you letters within 24 hours to each person who interviewed you to continue to show your interest and enthusiasm for the company and job, without sounding desperate. Don't fail to send a thank you, even if the job is not a good fit for you.
6. Do focus on the content of the thank you letters, not so much on whether it's hand-written or typed. Show appreciation for the company's interest in you and remind those receiving your thank you letter why you are the uniquely qualified candidate for the position. Don't send the thank you letter through the incorrect medium, however; make sure you know the best way to reach those interviewers - regular mail, email, fax, a phone call., etc. And don't have any errors in your thank you notes.
7. Do alert your references, if you haven't already, that they may receive a call from your prospective employer. Don't forget to brief them on what was said - by you and the interviewers - during the interview.
8. Do continue to follow-up, especially if requested by interviewer(s). Don't go overboard however. There's a huge difference between a squeaky wheel getting the oil, and an annoying pest getting the flyswatter.
9. Do be patient. You must work with the company's timeline. Don't however, stop your job search - even if you're confident you'll get the job. Continue to seek out other opportunities and interview. This can benefit you in at least two ways:
a. Should you get the job, you can leverage other offers in your job offer negotiations
b. Should you not get the job, you'll have other opportunities to pursue
10. Do turn a negative situation (not getting the job) into a positive (getting a referral). Add the interviewers to your job search network. Nurture this budding relationship so that you can ask them to refer you to other contacts. Don't, in other words, ever burn any of the bridges you build in your job search. Always think of ways to use them - and to reciprocate. Doing so, can benefit you now and in the future - for any other job search needs as well as growing your career.
There you have it, the top Do's and Don'ts for acing your interview.
By Pat Andrew