When you were a kid, did your parents ask you to put out your school clothes the night before? Or, if you had an early test, did you pack your backpack before you went to bed?
Then why don’t you do it for one of the most important events in your career…the interview?
A major frustration for job seekers right now is their inability to convert applications into interviews. So if you “win” an interview, particularly a face-to-face interview, don’t blow it!
Bring the Right Stuff
Save this checklist and use it before every interview. I guarantee that the day you don’t check your list, you will forget something important. What to take:
- Portfolio or pad holder with plenty of paper and two pens.
- Multiple copies of your résumé.
- A copy of the job description with your notes and questions.
- Multiple copies of your complete application, including cover letter and résumé.
- Multiple copies of your list of references (although this is rarely requested during an interview).
- Work samples, if relevant. Check with your prior employer(s) to make sure these don’t contain any proprietary information.
- Breath mints – use before you enter the building and in between interviews.
- Small bottle of water, protein bar, or snack.
- Briefcase to hold all of the above. For ladies, it can be a larger purse. Don’t walk in with your arms full, unable to shake hands, or looking disorganized.
What not to bring to an interview:
- Cellphone, smartphone, tablet, or any electronic device
- Music player
- Soda or coffee
- Laptop or tablet – not even to take notes with – unless it is requested
Look and Sound the Part
Interview Attire. Dressing formally and appropriately sends a signal to the interviewer that you care enough to want to make a good first impression. And the inverse – not being dressed appropriately – will hurt you.
Job Search Is All About First Impressions. You want your appearance to convey a confident, respectful, professional, and prepared job seeker. Remember, you are “on stage”…and this interview day is your BEST day.
You want the interviewer to concentrate on your skills, qualifications, and fit with their job specifications. If you look disheveled or too casual, you may be remembered for all the wrong reasons. Interviewers know that what you wear is not your normal day-to-day attire, and it may not even be the everyday style of their office.
Be sure you understand the product or service of the company. Applying for a position with a law firm requires a different “attitude” in dressing than for an Internet or manufacturing company. However, during my 30 years as a hiring manager and job candidate, I have never heard an interviewer complain that, “The candidate came in dressed too nicely.”
I know the above points may seem “basic.” But if they are so basic, why do so many candidates still show up with so many bloopers?