Recommendations throughout the entire process of the interview are outlined in the various sections below.
Dressing for the Interview: Unless you are told to dress more casually for the interview, a suit and tie is recommended for males and a suit (pant or skirt) is recommended for females. Any conservative color will do like black, grey, pin-striped, navy blue, and if spring or summer time even beige will do. For women I think it is acceptable to wear one item that might be a bit flashier like jewelry, blouse under the jacket, or shoes but don’t go too far. If you are questioning something than don’t wear it and pick out something more conservative instead.
What to Bring to the Interview: Always bring several copies of your resume (printed on regular paper is fine) and a notepad with pen so you can take notes during the interview. If there is anything specific the recruiter asked you to bring like a portfolio of past work or a PowerPoint presentation, of course remember that as well.
First Impressions: Arrive 10 to 15 minutes early, which shows you are responsible and respect their time. This also gives you time to use the restroom if necessary after checking in. Keep in mind that your first impression is not only with the person(s) conducting the interview, but with the receptionist, security officers, cleaning staff, and anyone else you might interact with once on site at the company. When I was a recruiter there would be times (admittedly it did not happen frequently, but it still did) where we would learn an interviewee had been rude or moody with such staff and we would not move forward with an offer if we were initially going to. It might seem small, but how you treat others during the interview process is a strong indication of how you are going to treat others when you have the job. And if you cannot even bother to be kind and professional during the interview process it does not bode well for the future.
Standard Questions: Again you should be prepared to answer the same standard questions you were asked during the phone screen, which are listed below.
- Why are you interested in this position?
- Why are you interested in the company? Or what do you know about the company?
- Why are you looking to leave your current company?
- What are your short-term career goals (i.e. career expectations over the next couple years)?
- What are your longer-term career goals (i.e. career expectations over the next 5 to 10 years)?
- What are your compensation expectations?*
*You might not discuss again, but just be prepared to do so even if you have already previously discussed compensation with a recruiter.
Behavior Based Questions: These are questions that ask you to provide an example from your past to show you have the skill set necessary. To answer these questions I advise clients to reference their top accomplishments or big projects from past jobs. Typically during the time to complete a project or gain such an accomplishment you showed a lot of positive behaviors like communication, teamwork, detail oriented, ability to prioritize and meet deadlines, people and/or project management skills, etc. So if you already have in mind several top accomplishments or projects from each position, these types of questions will be easier to answer.
You do not want to go into too much detail during your answer. I tell clients to be specific without extreme detail. You present what was occurring or the project details, quickly hit on what you did to get to completion, and then the end result(s). The interviewer will follow up with questions where they might want more detail. And one or two follow up questions is normal. But if you notice an interviewer is continually asking a lot of follow up questions that is a sign you can go into more detail in the future. If the interviewer is stopping you during the time you are giving an answer that is a sign you are going into too much detail and should shorten your responses in the future. I promise, it is okay to take a minute to figure out the response to a question.
Technical Questions: These types of questions will be based on the information listed in the job description; typically referencing a requirement of the job or potentially even day to day tasks that were listed. They are relatively straight forward responses explaining your experience or knowledge. When possible, of course, reference one of your top accomplishments/big projects to help answer the question. Behavior based questions are more common, but one should be prepared to discuss their technical proficiency if asked.
Regardless of the type of question (behavior based or technical), you should use different examples to answer the questions. This implies mastery of all your past roles and forces the interviewer to look at all areas of your resume.
Finishing the Interview Strong: Towards the end of the interview you will almost always be asked if you have any questions. Always, always be prepared and write down 5 to 10 questions to ask prior to going in for the interview. During the interview take notes and cross off the questions that have been asked. Any questions you have left are the ones to ask or any that you came up with during the interview. Also remember to thank each person you meet during the interview process.
Remember that everyone is naturally nervous in an interview, but some deep breathing while you wait for the interviewer to arrive can help. If you are asked if you would like anything to drink before the interview starts, it might be good to ask for water as you never know how long the interview will take. Later in the evening or after the day of the interview, take a few minutes to write down some of the questions where you stumbled or thought did not go as well as you had hoped. This time to reflect will help you to identify areas where you can improve for next time.
Thank You Notes: In the next couple of days, remember to send thank you notes to anyone you spoke with during the interview process. I do not think it is necessary to hand write a thank you note, a quick email will do. If you did not get the email for each person, just email the thank you notes to the recruiter and ask nicely for him/her to forward the email along. In your thank you notes of course thank the person for their time, maybe mention one personal item from your discussion with them, and reiterate your interest in the role. In the thank you note to the recruiter, ask them what the next steps will be and if you should follow back up with in a certain amount of time.