You’ve got one shot to make a good first impression. Here are some ways to make it count and set yourself up for a successful interview. While many of these are common sense, you’d be surprised how many times these basic steps are overlooked, undermining what could have been a successful interview.
Plan your route
Google it. Map it. Waze it. Whatever it takes, have a bullet-proof plan to arrive early (at least 5-10 minutes). Account for traffic for that time of day. If you’re unfamiliar with the location or route and don’t have time to pre-drive it, err on the side of caution and give yourself plenty of extra time. Being late may not be a deal-breaker, but being late sends the wrong signal right off the bat that you may not be a good planner. You just don’t need the added stress of being late; you’ll arrive frazzled and not at your best.
Planning to drive? don’t let parking derail an otherwise on-time arrival. Know in advance where you can reliably find a parking spot — or take public transportation (and allow extra time for cancelled trains!)
Resume & Work Samples
You know you need copies of your resume handy – but don’t forgot to bring relevant work samples. Be able to easily show your projects which relate most directly to your potential employer’s projects and the position you’re applying for. You may even want to thin out or eliminate non-essential work samples from your portfolio.
Do your Homework
Have at least a basic understanding of the firm, their work, who the principals / interviewers are (thank you LinkedIn), and the role for which you are applying. Find out if you know anyone who currently works for the firm.
It’s good to know the office culture beforehand and know the dress code. If in doubt, less casual is best.
During the Interview
Present your skills honestly and confidently – don’t over-promise and under-deliver. Remember the basics – make good eye contact, be able to elaborate on your experience when asked, and have a few questions for them about the company and projects.
After the Interview
Email a thank you and convey your interest in the position. Not mandatory but certainly a nice gesture and another way to let them know you want the job.
Despite our best intentions, sometimes things just go wrong. Your boss moves a deadline which conflicts with the interview; family crises pop up; cars break down. It’s OK! Just be pro-active and notify the company and/or recruiter as soon as you know you can’t make it. Whatever you do, don’t be a no-show — communicate what’s happening, even if you’ve just had a change of heart and don’t want to go through with the interview. Nothing burns a bridge faster with recruiters and employers than flaking on an interview and then breaking off all communication.
With a little planning you’ll make a great first impression on potential employers and avoid unnecessary stress!