The First Impression
Make a Good First Impression. As the saying goes, you only have one chance to make a first impression. Remember also that much of communication is non-verbal; e.g., the interviewer forms an impression of you not just from what you say, but also from how you look and how you conduct yourself.
Dress appropriately and practice good hygiene. Be conservative in your attire. Note what people in your profession wear, and dress accordingly. Suits for men and women are the rule. Clothes should be pressed, shoes polished, glasses cleaned, etc. Avoid excessive use of jewelry, make-up, perfume or cologne. Carry a briefcase or portfolio with copies of your resume, references and samples of your work, if appropriate.
Arrive early for the interview. Allow plenty of time to compose yourself before the interview begins. Offer a firm handshake, and don't forget to smile. It's OK to be nervous -- even experienced job-hunters will be -- but watch out for nervous 'tics' (the nervous giggle, finger-drumming, frequent leg-crossing, etc.).
Here is a brief checklist of things to keep in mind:
- Listen attentively. Don't be afraid to ask for clarification when you don't understand a question.
- Pay attention to your non-verbal communication. Maintain eye contact and good posture. Don't forget to smile!
- Keep your agenda in mind: are you demonstrating how well you match the position description? Are you addressing your shortcomings if they are an issue (low grade point average, lack of experience, etc.)?
- Ask questions of your own. Remember that you are evaluating the organization, just as you are being evaluated.
- Meals and small talk are part of the interview. Don't let your guard down, and watch your table manners.
- Closing: make sure you know what the next step is, and what action (if any) you are expected to take. Summarize/re-state your qualifications for the job, if given an opportunity.