An employer must sift through sometimes thousands of resumes before selecting the few to call. And after a phone interview, only a handful are chosen for that coveted in-person interview. When you receive that call, it can definitely seem like cause for a celebration. But it’s really just the beginning of another challenge. For some people, that phone call signals their soon-to-be new job; they know they have what it takes to impress the employer and are confident in their interview skills. For others, it’s cause for anxiety.
When you’re looking to nail your next interview, there are some things you can do before, during and after to help increase the odds you’ll receive that real celebratory phone call—the job offer.
BEFORE THE INTERVIEW
Research. Just like you did with the phone interview, make sure you know some things about the company before you show up to meet with the interviewer. This information can be great “small talk” and can also help you come up with well-informed questions about the position and company.
Study your resume. When you memorize the information on your resume, you don’t have to search for words to describe why you’re qualified. Practice explaining your qualifications and job history. Your career progression may be normal to you but may look illogical to someone not familiar with what motivated certain decisions. Look at it through the eyes of the interviewer and learn to explain it in a way that makes sense.
Pack lightly. A potential employer wants to see that you are prepared. Pack a few extra resumes, a list of references and even a printout of the job opening and put them in a portfolio to carry with you. Bring a few pens and some breath mints as well. Don’t show up empty-handed, and don’t bring along shopping packages, any children or other companions.
DURING THE INTERVIEW
Show up early and shut off your phone. Arrive about 10 minutes early and even more if you are not sure about the exact location of the interview. If your arrive at the exact time of the interview, you’re considered a late arrival. Shut off your phone even before you enter the building.
Make a good first impression. The receptionist is the first line of a company’s employees and your interview begins with that person. Be personable and polite with everyone. You never know who’s passing on information about candidates to the recruiting manager.
Smile and relax. The potential boss doesn’t want to just know that you’re capable; they want to know that you would be pleasant to work with. Be friendly and easy-going. Watch your body language—make eye contact; have good posture, and avoid fidgeting. Above all, do your best to relax.
Be clear and concise in your answers. An interview is all about getting to know you and why you are great for the job. The key is to find the right balance between providing enough information and giving too much context, something Latinos tend to do. Make sure you practice how to provide clear and concise answers that address the question and don’t be afraid to ask the interviewer if they would like to hear more about something.
Brag a Little. The interview is your time to shine—give them a little something extra and let your personality come through. Maybe the job description didn’t ask for someone who is bilingual, for instance. But, this additional asset can be worked into nearly any position that has contact with the public. Remember to make your personal accomplishments clear by speaking in the first person “I” rather than “we”.
AFTER THE INTERVIEW
Send a Letter. Job interview thank you letters show good taste and professionalism. Given that few people use the physical kind of card, you will stand out in the recruiter’s mind just by sending one within 24 hours after the interview. Make the letter personal and mention a few things that were discussed at the interview.
Follow Up. While your thank you letter is a form of follow up, it doesn’t have to be the only one. If you haven’t heard anything in a week, or by the time the employer said they would be reaching a decision, call or email. Always end on a high note, with something like, “I am still very much interested in the position and am looking forward to hearing from you soon.” Even if they tell you that you didn’t get the job, be pleasant. You never know when that recruiter will have another opportunity for you or when they’ll be working elsewhere and remembering your great personality.
Keep Looking. Not all interviews are successful interviews. But, they are all good learning experiences. When you are on the search for a new job, it may take several before you really nail one. Keep your confidence high and don’t get discouraged—the right job is out there.