Here are some general tips on interview preparation
Dressing for an interview
While your prospective employer might know something about you from your resume, an interview is the first time you meet face to face and you must make the best possible impression. Being well groomed will take you a long way in achieving this. Prepare the clothes you will be wearing the day before, to avoid running around in the morning of the interview. Make sure they are clean and well pressed.
For men, it is recommended that you wear a suit, probably in conservative colors such as black, navy blue or grey. Select a matching shirt and tie. Of course, make sure that your hair is neat and professionally done. Wear appropriate shoes and carry a briefcase or folder. Make sure that your nails are clean and clipped short. Go slow on the aftershave or cologne.
For women, a suit in similar colors is recommended, and if you chose a skirt suit, make sure that the skirt is comfortable enough to sit in. You do not want to be pulling it down every few seconds! Wear tasteful shoes and avoid a lot of jewelry. In fact, limit it to earrings if you can. Go easy on make- up and perfume. You do not want your interviewer to hurry the interview just because your perfume was choking him. Make sure that your nails are well manicured and clean.
During the interview
The actual day of the interview is finally here. You have prepared well, and this is your chance to shine.
- The first thing to do is- be on time! Ideally, you should arrive 10-15 minutes before your interview. This will give you time to find the right room, take a peek at the mirror, go to the bathroom, fill any forms etc. Arriving on time will not only put you in a relaxed mode (ok, relatively relaxed) but it will also create a good impression. You do not want to arrive late and panting for this most important occasion. As a precaution, you may want to take a mock trip to the interview venue the previous day, just to be sure how long it will take, what buses to take etc.
- Turn off your cell phone! You do not want it ringing in the middle of your interview
- Be respectful to the person who greets you at the door. It might not be the receptionist after all! But even if it is, it is helpful if she can report that you were well mannered and courteous.
- When ushered into the interview room, be assertive and confident. Give a firm handshake to each interviewer and listen carefully for their names. Wait until you are offered a seat.
- Speak clearly and confidently. Smile occasionally, but not too much to seem sheepish. Look at the interviewer in the eye (but don’t glare) when being asked a question and when answering it. In case of a panel interview, make eye contact with all interviewers while answering a question, and not only to the person who asked it. Do your best to look attentive and interested.
- After the interview, shake hands all around, be sure to say thank you, and close the door after you. Be sure to thank the receptionist on your way out. Make sure not to leave any belongings behind.
After the interview- Thank you letter
After the interview it is imperative that you write a thank you letter to your interviewer(s), preferably immediately, and certainly within a day or two. An email is preferable, if you have been communicating through email or if this is how you sent your application. A hard copy will also suffice, but should be sent immediately. If there was more than one interviewer, write a thank you note to each of them. Do not simply duplicate the note, but try to change the language in each one.
A thank you letter serves several purposes including:
- It is a chance to thank the recruiter/ organization for their interest in you.
- A thank you letter is also a good way to reaffirm your interest in the position you interviewed for.
- It is a good chance to mention anything that you might have forgotten during the interview, or to provide any information the interviewer might have asked for.
- Finally, it shows that you are professional, good mannered and interested in the company!