When you’re actively seeking a new position, an interview with a prospective company is everything. Or is it? As imperative as a smooth interview is to getting the job, what you do before the interview, and especially after the interview can be just as critical.
Six key areas to keep in mind before and after the interview.
Before the Interview
1. Get all your paperwork in order.
You’ve probably already provided a resume and cover letter which is why you have the interview. But a smart move is to bring along an extra copy or two of your resume just in case your interviewer asks for a spare, is planning on having you meet with another individual, or has misplaced your original.
Also, bring a nicely formatted copy of 3-4 professional references to include name, title, company, phone number, e-mail and how the reference knows you. Have this all together in a tidy folder and you’ll exude professionalism.
2. Practice your questions and answers.
Be ready for popular questions such as:
1. What are the methods you have used to evaluate employee’s job performance?
2. Explain some instances in which you brought about some productive change in the company that you worked for. What were the steps that you carried out, and what were the steps that you implemented for others to follow?
3. Describe one recent problem that you came across on the job and how you countered it. How did you contribute to overcoming the obstacle and how did you implement steps for others to overcome the obstacle?
4. Explain a time when you had to motivate an employee or peer who was reluctant to work.
5. Give an example of your leadership involvement where teamwork played an important role.
6. What do you feel are your largest strengths/weaknesses and why?
7. How do you motivate yourself?
8. What can you bring to this position?
9. What are your largest accomplishments?
Interviewers love scenario-based questions, asking how you’d react to stressful or ethical scenarios. Be ready with examples of how you successfully navigated something similar in the past.
Finally, have two or three thoughtful questions about the company tucked away. Interviewers almost always ask “Now, what questions do you have for me?” and if you don’t have any, you’ll look unengaged.
3. Choose your attire.
Dress a step above what you’d normally wear if you were hired, and make sure it’s clean, comfortable and conservative. It’s really that simple.
After the Interview
1. Follow up, but don’t annoy.
Ideally, most of the time the company will let you know when you’ll hear back from them. But if that doesn’t happen, wait a full 24 hours after the time and date you were supposed to hear by and then give them a call. If no “you’ll hear from us by” date was given, then wait at least a week before calling. However, if they specifically said not to call to follow up, then don’t call.
2. Handle the wait smartly.
While it’s tempting to put all your eggs in one basket once you score an interview and it goes smoothly, while you’re waiting for the official word, keep applying to other jobs. Who knows? Maybe you’ll end up getting to choose from more than one company—or be able to use one offer against another as a salary negotiation tool.
If you accept one job while still waiting to hear back from another, be sure to send the company that’s still deciding an e-mail letting them know you’ve taken yourself out of the running.
3. Send a post-interview follow-up letter.
At the conclusion of the interview, make sure to try to get a business card either from the interviewer themselves or from the front desk. Give it a few hours and then e-mail the interviewer the letter letting them know that you appreciated his or her time. It makes a very classy impression and, with so many people lacking manners, it will make you stand out in a good way!