Wednesday, January 2, 2013

The Perfect Position - Interview Do's and Don'ts

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You must have done an awesome job with your resume and cover letter, because you got the call - they want you to come in for an interview. How do you wow them in person after wowing them on paper? Follow these helpful hints for making the most of your first impression.
DO arrive on early
In fact, give yourself an extra 30 minutes of travel time, even more if you're not taking a high-traffic route. The last thing you want is to be sweating in a traffic jam, panicking as the minute hand on your watch creeps closer and closer to interview time. Arriving early not only shows your future employer that you respect their company and their time, but it gives you a few extra minutes to give yourself a once-over in the rearview mirror, to touch up your makeup or hair, and to fill out any pesky paperwork.
DON'T drive too fast on the way
Speeding tickets come at the most inopportune times. How well will you be able to concentrate after being pulled over and issued a pricey citation? Trust me, don't speed. Even if you've never gotten a speeding ticket before, today will be the day. It's almost guaranteed.
DO dress for success
If you have a nice, seasonally appropriate suit, wear it. If you don't have a decent suit but you do have the time and money to go shopping, buy one. When all else fails, slacks or a modest skirt paired with a button-down or a sweater set definitely works. Ideally you should lean toward the business side of business casual. Better to be overdressed and come off as professional and with good taste than to be underdressed and look like an amateur.
DON'T overdo it
Too much perfume, hairspray, makeup, jewelry. If you have to ask yourself, "Is this too much?" the answer is yes. Spritz a little fragrance in front of you and walk through it a few times for a light scent. Keep your hairstyle simple and professional. Twist it back in a clip if you're prone to playing with it while you talk - that's a no-no! When it comes to makeup, less is more. The same goes for jewelry: You want to accent your natural beauty and vibrance, not distract your interviewer.
DO initiate a handshake
Practice shaking hands with your best friend, your significant other, or your mom before your interview. You want a firm, straight handshake with a nice smile and solid eye contact - none of that "Ahh do de-clare" Scarlet O'Hara, kiss-my-hand-while-I-bat-my-eyes crap. Extend your arm with your thumb and pinkie, both parallel to the floor. Grasp the other person's hand about as hard as you held your dad's hand crossing the street when you were a kid. Pump twice and then make a clean break. Don't pull away if they're still holding on, though!
DON'T be the first to sit down or stand up
You'll probably sit in a reception area for a few minutes before being escorted to your interviewer's office or a meeting room, where someone will show you to a chair. It's good manners to let them sit first. An exception is if they ask you to sit down and then offer you a drink or something. Politely ask for water as you seat yourself with grace and poise. (Avoid coffee and soda, which can give you bad breath.) When the interview is over, let them initiate the goodbye by allowing them to stand first. You can initiate the farewell handshake.
DO know what you want to tell them before you get there
They're probably going to ask you why you're a good fit for their position, why you're leaving your old job, where you see yourself in five years, and what you're looking for in a job in general. Do your homework ahead of time and know what points you want to plug. Come up a few infobytes, short one- or two-sentence personal ads: "One of my favorite things about working in the fast-paced environment of my last job, at XYZ Company, is that I got to do such-and-such, which really helped me to develop my fill-in-the-blank skills." Even if they don't ask you the specific questions, you can use your infobytes to subtly sell yourself throughout the interview
DON'T get so wrapped up in your agenda that you ignore their questions
Interviewers expect you to come with something prepared, but they also expect you to respond honestly to their questions. If they ask you something you're not prepared to answer, respond with, "That's a really good question. Let me think about that for a moment." Then take a breath and a sip of water to give yourself a few seconds to formulate an answer. If they ask you something factual or even hypothetical that you just don't know the answer to, don't be afraid to say, "You know, I'm not really sure." If you can, try to liken it to a similar scenario that you can relate to so you can end on a positive note.
DO relax and be yourself
The bottom line is that you're looking for a job that's a good fit for you. It's better to not get the job because you were yourself than to get it because you acted like someone else - you can fake it for only so long before you and your employer both end up miserable. But if you get the job because you let your beautiful self shine through, you're destined for big things.


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