By David Pacheco

Congratulations, you got an interview!  Way to go!  You might be thinking, great, what do I do now? Prepare for the interview of course!  How are you going to convince them you’re the best person for the job?

Clearly, they were impressed by your application or resume. How prepared you are before you walk in the door for the interview will determine if you get the job or not. They already know you’re nervous; everybody is when they’re being interviewed. But you can still present yourself as a confident and capable candidate.

  • Be on time! I highly recommend that you get there 10 minutes early. If you’re late it will give them an impression that you really didn’t care enough to be there on time. They may also think you’ll always be late to work. By being late you may have already talked them out of hiring you, and you haven’t even shown up yet.
  • Appearance. Clean clothes is a must. This may seem like a no-brainer, but I can’t tell you how many times people show up for an interview looking like a mess. Nothing with tears, stains and wrinkles. No heavy perfume, tank tops, short skirts or sandals. Do you look like you’re ready for the beach or work? Dress like you want to work there, which might have to be a bit more conservative. You are in a job interview, not on a date.
  • Etiquette. When you arrive make sure you smile and introduce yourself. Hint: right before you walk in, take a deep breath and put on that smile. Give them the impression you are happy they are taking the time out of their busy schedule to talk to you. After all, they could have chosen someone else to be there instead of you. Give a firm handshake (not too hard, not to soft).
    • Put away your phone! Make sure your volume is turned down in case a call comes in. Your future employer needs to feel confident that you will take the interview and job seriously. Checking messages or being distracted by your phone during the interview could spell disaster.
    • Take something to write on. I recommend a small notepad with a cover. You’ll want to take notes, but you may also have some questions written down.
  • Attitude. When I hire people, I am looking for specific skills needed to do the job. But more important, I am looking for someone with the right enthusiastic attitude. So, be cheerful and positive in your interview.  When you respond to the interviewer’s questions, look the interviewer in the eye. Remember to speak clearly and firmly. If there is more than one interviewer in the room, make sure you include them in the conversation. You might want to practice this in front of a mirror.
  • Questions and Answers. You should have already done your homework about the company when you were applying so now you can take that knowledge with you into the interview. Just as a reminder, learning all you can about the company will help you get that job.
    • When you are looking at their website, pay attention to what the company says they do. This way when you’re asked why you think you are the best candidate you can apply your answer to the company’s needs.For example, if you see words like dependable or reliable on their site,provide them with examples of how dependable and trustworthy you are.   If you are applying for a job that involves working with the public, you might be asked questions about your ability to work with people.   For example, “Are you able to greet customers and deal with some that might be a bit demanding?”  Your answer should be more than “yes”.  It could be something like, “Yes, for example, I volunteer at my church to help with weddings and holiday events.  Sometimes people are anxious and I am able to assist them and help make the event successful. “
  • Closing. Sometimes your interviewer will ask you if you have any questions. This is where your notepad may come in handy so you can refer to questions you have. Asking them questions shows interest and you were paying attention to what they were saying. This also helps to clarify anything you are unsure of.  Remember, you are interviewing them at the same time they are talking to you.
    • Be mindful of their time. Your interview is just a small portion of their busy day. When the interview is over, shake their hand again and thank them for taking the time to meet with you. You might be thinking “OK Boomer”, but professionalism still goes a long way.
  • Follow Up. After your interview immediately send an email which once again thanks them for their time and opportunity to meet, emphasize your desire to work there and availability to discuss further your potential employment with their company. They are probably interviewing multiple applicants so every step of the way you need to outshine your competition. You can do this!

You only have one chance to make a first impression, what will yours be?