1. Be punctual. Arrive on time, or even better, arrive five to ten minutes early. Employers take notice of when you arrive for your interview. Arriving early is an indication of good organization; it shows that the individual plans ahead and allows extra time for preparation or unforeseeable events, such as traffic jams.
2. Be well groomed. Make sure hair is neat and nails are cut and clean. Business attire should be pressed and conservative. Avoid excessive jewelry, make-up, perfumes or colognes. Do not wear flamboyant colors or patterns and certainly do not show too much skin. The interview is not about your fashion sense (unless you are interviewing in the fashion industry!) but about how you will fit in with the corporate culture.
3. Speak in a tone that reflects confidence. Be assertive in your presentation.
4. Avoid using slang terms and inserting “like” and “um” in your statements. This is common and usually a result of nervousness. It’s important to be cognizant of this habit and curtail it, particularly if the position you are interviewing for requires public speaking.
5. Be direct and answer the question asked. Remain “on point” with your responses. Employers have little patience for rambling. If the interviewer wants more information, he/she will ask follow-up questions.
6. Don’t rush the interview. Speak at a moderate pace. You only get one shot at making a first impression so you want to make sure you cover all the relevant points as to why you are the right hire. If you speak too fast, you may forget to discuss important skills or experiences you bring to the table. Additionally, how you present yourself demonstrates how well you communicate in general (see #4 above).
7. Make sure you know the meaning of the words you use. Do not try to impress the interviewer by using overly technical or complicated terms. Keep it simple. As a human resources professional, I have interviewed many job applicants over the course of my career and it’s astounding the number of applicants who, in an attempt to impress, use words that either do not exist or do not have the correct meaning within the context of the interview. It’s a common occurrence and a common disqualifier.
8. Be engaged during the interview. Ask some questions about the company. The interview is not only the employer’s opportunity to learn more about you, but your opportunity to decide if you want to work for the employer. Some questions you may want to ask include, “How would you describe your management style?” and “What do you see as the biggest challenges for the company in the upcoming year?”
9. Never ask the interviewer “how did I do” or similar questions at the conclusion of the interview. Doing this shows poor etiquette and a lack of confidence. At the conclusion of the interview, thank the interviewer for his/her time and state that you enjoyed discussing the opportunity with them.
10. Send a follow-up thank you note. Never underestimate the power of thanking someone for their time. Many people fail to do this, and it can be the difference between a job offer or having your resume moved to the bottom of the pile. The thank you letter is also a great way to remind the employer that you are interested in the position and to restate (briefly) why you are the best candidate for the job.
Just remember, employers know that most applicants are nervous during the interview process. The interview should not be an intimidating or scary experience. Quite the opposite, the applicant should enjoy the opportunity to discuss with someone all their positive traits. Put the above tips into practice. Once you master the process, interviewing will be about as scary as having coffee with a friend.
Frank Giallorenzo is a human resources professional and operator of http://www.myresumexpress.com, a professional resume writing service. The author grants full reprint rights to this article. You may reprint and electronically distribute this article so long as its contents remain unchanged and the author’s byline remains in place. Copyright 2011 http://www.myresumexpress.com. All rights reserved.