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How to Impress: Interviewing Skills 101

April 17, 2009

Below are some basic "interviewing skills 101", to impress the interviewer and to guarantee you will be remembered (if not hired.)

1. Dress to Impress: Wear a suit. If you are not sure if it's too casual, then it probably is too casual. Always err on the side of caution. It's better to be overdressed than too casual.

2. Arrive 10 to 15 minutes early. It shows you mean business. Plus, always, always, always - be polite to the receptionist. Most companies ask for their first impression of the prospective candidates. Also, bring something professional (i.e. trade journal, Wall Street Journal, etc.) to read. They may not have anything to read in their lobby and, if your interviewer is running late, you don't want to appear bored or imposed upon.

3. Do your homework. If you are using a recruiter, we should have provided you with information on the company. Do yourself a huge favor - READ IT. If you were not provided with information, check out their website. Google them. If they are a public company, read their annual report. In other words, make sure you know something about the company other than their name. It shows them that you are thorough and that you mean business.

4. Make sure that you shake the interviewer's hand, or for that matter, shake the hand of everyone you meet. Also, make sure it's a "real" handshake and not some "dead fish", limp, clammy handshake.

5. Maintain eye contact with whomever is speaking. It shows that you are interested.

6. Bring a couple (at least 2) printed copies of your resume. Make sure it's laser printed on nice paper - you can do this at Kinko's or Staples for little cost (under a dollar, in most cases.) Most people are probably asking themselves, "Why? They already have a copy of my resume?" Good question. I know that when I send resumes, I email them. Some recruiters fax them. You want to make sure that they have a good copy of your resume.

7. Be confident, not cocky. Don't be afraid to talk about your accomplishments, just don't be arrogant.

8. Ask the interviewer what they are looking for in an employee. Ask about the position. Just ASK. You would be amazed at how many people are afraid to ask questions during interviews. Trust me, the interviewer WANTS you to ask questions.

9. Follow up. Ask the interviewer what is the next step. Do they anticipate a second interview? Do they have a hiring timetable? Again, this shows your interest.

10. Ask for their business card. You can do this at the beginning or the end of the interview, provided they didn't already give you one.

11. Send a thank you note. It can be something as simple as a quick email or as elaborate as a handwritten note (you can get packages of blank note cards at any office supply or stationery store). Just make sure you thank them for their time and, again, express your interest in the position for which you interviewed. I suggest you do this within 24 to 48 hours of your interview - it keeps your name "fresh" in the interviewer's mind. Plus, as most people don't send a note, it shows you as being more thorough and professional than your competition.

Most of these are basic "common sense," but you would be amazed the number of people (both entry-level and more experienced professionals) who don't put any of these to use while interviewing. Then again, these are the same people who complain about interviewing because "it never works out right."

If you take the time to follow these steps, it should make your interviewing process smoother and *hopefully* successful.

Happy job searching!