Due to the technology-driven world in which we live, many human resources processes have been digitized and automated. But when it comes to actually hiring someone, in-person interviews are still an important part of the process. There is no better way for employers to size you up to see if you have the right skills, personality, and experience, then by meeting you face to face. Likewise, there is no better way for you, as a potential employee, to size up the employer and see if the opportunity he or she is offering is truly right for you.
With so much depending on the interview, it can be a stressful time for candidates. From figuring out what to wear to preparing how to answer tough questions, here are the top ten do’s and don’ts for in-person interviews.
- Do take time to investigate. In other words, don’t hesitate to thoroughly do research on your potential employer. This could be the company that you spend the next one year or ten years of your life at. Doesn’t it make sense to learn as much as you can about it? You will also be more confident in answering questions if you dig deep and find out what the latest company news is, what awards the company has been recognized for, or what big projects the company is currently working on. Not only that, but your potential employer will be pretty impressed by how much knowledge you have about the company.
- Don’t dress to fail. Even if your interview takes place at a local coffee shop and not at the office, you still want to give a businesslike impression. Regardless of the position you’re being interviewed for and regardless of the type of industry the company is in, look professional. Make sure that your clothes are neat and clean. It may not be necessary to wear a suit, but you can rarely go wrong with business casual. Keep perfumes/cologne, jewelry, and other colorful accessories to a minimum to avoid it being a distraction.
- Do ask questions. The interview process is just as much about you getting to know your potential employer as it is about them getting to know you. After you have been asked a series of questions, feel free to ask some of your own. First, check to make sure that your potential employer has the time to answer them; and second, make sure that your questions are prepared beforehand by writing them out on a notebook or on a digital device. Get details about your job description, what the company culture is like, and what expectations come with your role, if you were to be hired. This shows that you are truly interested in the position you are being interviewed for.
- Don’t stress. To make a good impression on your potential employer, do your best to act like you already have been hired. Be confident, but not cocky. No matter what questions are thrown your way, maintain a cool composure and provide answers to the best of your ability. If you’re not quite sure how to answer, don’t hesitate to ask for the question to be rephrased or to say something like: “I’m sorry, I don’t know the answer, but I will figure it out and get back to you.” Research has shown that the ability to admit you don’t know the answer but show that you’re willing to find it is a common trait of highly intelligent people.
- Do prepare to answer general questions. It’s understandable if you’re stumped by an unexpected hard question, but if you have a tough time answering basic interview questions, then your potential employer might be hard pressed to find a reason to hire you. If you’re requested to tell more about yourself, to share your greatest weakness or strength, to describe your hobbies, or to tell why you want to work at the company, you should readily have responses to such queries.
- Don’t forget to practice. As the popular saying goes, “Practice makes perfect.” Whether this is true is still up for debate, but even if practice doesn’t make perfect, it certainly helps more than it hurts. Rehearse your responses. Practice your posture. You can get help with this mock audition by enlisting a trusted family member or friend to help you by playing the role of the interviewer. When it comes time for the real thing, you will be much more prepared and self-assured.
- Do say thank you. From the secretary who greeted you when you walked in to the office to the person who interviewed you, send a brief note to everyone you met within twenty-four hours of the process. It can be by e-mail, paper letter, or even by text message. Restate your interest in the position, answer any questions you may not have been able to answer during the interview, and, of course, say thank you for the opportunity. This is a memorable way to get your potential employer to think about you even after the interview is over.
- Don’t neglect your social accounts. Due to the significant role that the Internet plays in people’s lives, many employers check out potential employees for red flags before interviewing them. Surveying your Facebook, Twitter, and other social profiles is an easy way for your potential employer to get a good (or bad) impression of you before he or she even meets you in person. A few days before your interview, it’s a good idea to go through your social profiles and make sure that nothing potentially “suspicious” or “scandalous” has been posted there. You don’t want to be rejected because of something your potential employer might have found on one of your social platforms.
- Do go to sleep. The night before your interview, be sure to go to bed early and get plenty of rest. Nothing will send a bad message to your employer like giving an unexpected yawn mid-sentence or nodding off during a question. Additionally, your mind will not be as alert or prepared to readily answer questions, if you are suffering from sleep deprivation.
- Don’t arrive late. This seems obvious, but arriving ten to fifteen minutes ahead of time is a good way to show that you’re interested and invested in the position and company that is interviewing you. Whatever you do, avoid being late as this will make you potential employer think that if you’re late to your interview, you will be late to the job if hired. Arriving a few minutes early not only leaves your potential employer with a good impression, but also gives you time to compose yourself after fighting traffic, complete any necessary paperwork, and consider the environment that you may be working in.