All the savvy preparation in the world will come to nothing if a candidate fails to use common sense at the most critical point in the process -- the actual job interview.
Vicki Walch, owner of Impress Them! Resumes, and Matthew Rothenberg, editor-in-chief of job search service TheLadders, review the best ways to prepare for any type of interview. Come interview day, these tips will help you feel relaxed and confident.
1) The Phone Interview
For candidates facing these pre-screening phone interviews, Walch suggests the following for acing this initial test:
- Remember your manners.
- Sit in a quiet location, keep your resume nearby and have key points listed out about yourself that you want to get across.
- Don't take a phone interview while driving.
- Don't just read your answers. You will sound too rehearsed.
- Smile when you talk.
"Human beings are motivated by the animation in human faces, even their own," agrees Rothenberg. "If you set up a small hand mirror by the phone and talk to that, the vibrancy in your voice will come through in the interview."
Rothenberg offers advice on another interviewing twist. As video conference interviews become more common, "It's a good idea to test out any camera equipment with a friend exactly 24 hours before the time of the interview to make sure the lighting conditions are right."
2) The First-Thing-in-the-Morning Interview
Got a morning interview scheduled? Walch recommends several pointers for smoothing the process.
- Get enough sleep the night before and don't yawn.
- Don't be late and don't complain about the bad traffic. The hiring manager drives it every day and he won't feel sorry for you.
- Don't think the interview will be short and that you can go back to your other job. Some interviews last all day.
3) The Lunch Interview
Possibly the most difficult is the dreaded lunch interview where candidates are expected to both eat and talk. When this happens, Walch offers several pointers to keep in mind.
- Order smaller quantities. Less is more -- you have to have time to talk.
- Don't hand the interviewer your resume. They won't have space at the table and you will lose eye contact.
- Never order alcohol even if your interviewer does. You need to be on top of your game.
- Don't order messy dishes. The focus shouldn't be the on your shirt.
- Don't order food you eat with your hands. Sticky hands an uncomfortable handshake later.
- Don't forget your table manners.
Rothenberg reminds senior level candidates that it's increasingly common for interviews to take place outside traditional venues, including over lunch or drinks. "Understand the basic business reason for this arrangement: It's not because the company wants to make a social connection, it's because they want to see how you conduct yourself outside a conference room," he says.
4) The After Lunch Interview
On the flip side, Walch believes successfully acing the afternoon interview means understanding different set of challenges -- challenges many candidates often forget.
- Don't eat too many carbohydrates at lunch. You will be tired.
- Don't eat lunch in a restaurant with heavy odors. If you are meeting in an enclosed room and you smell of curry or fajitas or garlic, you will give the interviewer a potential reason not to like you.
- Don't look at your watch. If you have to be somewhere -- for example, to pick up your child after school -- plan ahead and ensure you can stay for as long as you need.
5) The Group Interview
One of the more stressful scenarios involves the group interview. Not to worry, says Walch. This is your chance to show how you work in a team so just don't make the answers all about you.
- Do build on something someone else has said in the conversation.
- Do include others in the conversation -- be collaborative.
- Don't step on someone else when they are expressing an idea.