A potential employer just invited you for an on-site interview—congratulations! Now what do you do? Margie Beck, Career Advisor at the Weston Career Center, shares a few job interview tips that will help you make a positive, lasting impression:
1. Research the company and practice your interviewing skills
Don’t show up thinking you can “wing” the interview. Make sure you know your resume inside and out, as everything listed is fair game to be asked about (and beyond). Know the company’s core competencies by which they assess their candidates (i.e. teamwork, leadership, communication, etc), and make sure you have examples to support your case of each one, at a minimum. You’re not expected to know everything about the company, but you should be familiar with some general key facts about the company and the job you’re interviewing for.
2. Be on time… but not too early
Take some time before the interview to make sure you know how to get to the interview location and aim to arrive no earlier than 15 minutes early, unless instructed otherwise. If your commute takes less time than you anticipate, find a nearby coffee shop where you can wait.
3. Arrive to the job interview prepared
There are two important things to consider in order to arrive prepared for the interview:
- Your attire: Make sure you fully read the instructions provided to you before the interview. If nothing is indicated on suggested dress, err on the side of being more professional than not (i.e. business suit). More and more companies these days are moving to a business casual dress code, which includes during the interview process, but many are still not there. Also, take it easy on heavy perfumes or colognes, visible piercings and tattoos, and excessive and ungroomed facial hair for the guys. Lastly, make sure your suit or outfit fits well. There is nothing less flattering than a business suit that is either way too small or way too large.
- Materials to bring: Less is more. All you really need is a nice padfolio or notebook that can store extra copies of your resume and serve as a place for you to take down notes as needed. If you have your cell phone with you, make sure the ringer is set to silent before you enter the building to avoid embarrassing interruptions.
4. Understand that the interview starts as soon as you enter the building
You never know if your interviewer is the person riding up with you in the elevator or the person that accidentally cut you off in the company parking garage. Be extra cautious and extra courteous to everyone you meet, including the receptionist. Everyone can weigh in on your candidacy at any time. A simple email to the recruiter on candidate observations and interactions can be added to your file when reviewed for hiring considerations. This can go both on the positive and not-so-positive side.
5. Write thank you notes
Make sure to show your appreciation and thank the interviewers and all of the various employees you meet throughout your visit. You should also send out genuine, non-generic thank you notes to all of these individuals no later than 24 hours after the interview. My personal rule of thumb is to try to send out a note within 12 hours to help keep you top of mind to the employers. It also demonstrates your interest without coming across too eager.
To hand write a thank you note or send an email? Handwritten thank you notes are definitely a nice personal touch and often in the minority among types of communications sent by interview candidates. If you opt to send a handwritten note in the mail, make sure to send a quick, brief thank you email within the 12-24 hour timeline to ensure your message is received timely. They will then receive a nice surprise a day or so later with your personalized, handwritten thank you note.
Margie has spent a majority of her career in public accounting, in client-serving roles (audit and tax), and campus recruiting. She most recently worked at Ernst & Young as a campus recruiter on the East Coast, managing campus relationships. Margie serves as liaison to the Olin Professional Accounting Advisory Board and is a career advisor at the Weston Career Center.