You finally got the call to come in for an interview; all of your hard work on your resume and cover letter has finally paid off.
As anyone familiar with the job search process knows, you may end up sending out a lot of applications before receiving an opportunity to interview or you may spend a long time searching job boards before the “right” job opportunity comes up. For these reasons, you want to make the most out of interview opportunities when they arise.
Here are some best practices for making a lasting and positive impression during the interview process:
Do your homework: With the wealth of information that is now available online there is absolutely no excuse for showing up at an interview without having researched the company you have applied to. Demonstrate your interest in the position by showing that you are informed about any recent news relating to the company and prepare several thoughtful and specific questions to ask about the company or position. If any of your questions are easily answered by information on the company’s website, don’t ask them. Thanks to LinkedIn, you may also be able to learn about the individuals conducting your interview in advance. If you uncover a personal connection to the company, consider dropping that person a note to let them know you had an interview and how interested you are in the position.
Maintain formality: Every interaction you have with a potential employer should be professional; from your attire to your email communications, you want to use every opportunity to demonstrate the professionalism and care that you will bring to your job. Of course, you want to be personable and you may have several interviews with the same people and therefore reach a level of familiarity with your interviewers. This doesn’t mean that professional formalities should be forgotten. We have all become so accustomed to responding quickly to emails on our phones but you should never respond to a potential employer with something like “pls see attached.” Similarly, there may be instances where you are told in advance that a company has a “casual” culture and that you do not need to wear business formal to your interview; however, if you are at all unsure, the best advice is to always err on the side of being too formal. Click here to read our previous blog for more guidance on what to wear to an interview.
Use caution when speaking about previous employers: Whatever your reasons are for seeking new employment, you should never use an interview as an opportunity to vent all of your frustrations about your current employer. In line with the previous point, an interview is a professional and formal setting and therefore there it is not the appropriate venue to air your employment grievances. An interviewee may be perceived as untrustworthy if he or she is willing to speak freely about a previous employer in this manner. There are many professional and polite ways to communicate your reasons for wanting to leave your current job.
Be an advocate without being arrogant: You have to be your own advocate during the interview process. You need to be ready to talk about any item that you have included on your resume and you should take the opportunity granted by open-ended questions like “tell me about yourself” to guide the interviewers to your experience and skills that you think are most relevant to the job. There are some instances where there can be a fine line between being a strong advocate for yourself and coming across as arrogant, especially when asked a question like “tell me about your greatest professional achievement.” Your answers shouldn’t downplay your successes and instances where you have taken on leadership roles, however, hardly anyone can say their successes have been achieved without any teamwork.
Be yourself: The truth is you could spend countless hours researching and reading articles on how to interview successfully but at the end of the day, it is important to be yourself. So many companies now talk about achieving a good “fit” when hiring for a new position and this much sought after match can only be achieved if interviewees present a true version of themselves during the interview process. If you do not give your prospective employer the opportunity to assess who you really are, both you and your new employer may end up unhappy.
You should not think about your interview as just the one-hour period during which you have your face to face meeting; every point of contact you have with your potential employer is an opportunity for you to make an impression. By being prepared, professional and authentic, you will not only optimize your chances of being hired but also ensure you are a good fit for your new role. Click here to read an article from The Lawyers Weekly which contains more great tips on preparing for your next interview.
Louise is a Senior Consultant with The Heller Group. Louise is actively involved in recruiting and placing lawyers, of all levels, into law firms and corporations. She is also the primary consultant for compliance and risk management related positions. Outside of the office, Louise enjoys skiing, cycling, yoga and baking. She has three children and volunteers with their schools and sports organizations.
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