When you’re prepping for an interview, your focus is probably on the tough questions you’ll face, the thorough responses you’ll give, and the professional-yet-slightly-witty anecdotes you’ll tell. After all, that’s what the bulk of the interview is about—and what will (hopefully) get you a fast pass to an offer letter. Before you head into your next interview, check out these tips to make sure you’re presenting yourself in the right light and setting yourself up for the most successful interview possible.
Show up on time
You’ve heard it a million times: “If you’re early, you’re on time; if you’re on time, you’re late.” Being punctual should be a given —especially when your dream job is on the line. But no matter how many times you’ve heard it, it’s worth mentioning again: Show up on time.
Dress the part
Your appearance probably won’t be the basis of the interviewer’s final decision—but it can certainly play a part in how you’re first perceived. When you show up in a neatly pressed suit and scuff-less shoes with a portfolio in tow, you’ll come across as professional and well put-together.
Be nice to the receptionist
The person at the front desk may not be the hiring manager—but that doesn’t mean his or her impression of you doesn’t matter. In fact, some companies specifically ask their front desk attendants to report back on the demeanor of interviewees who come through the door. And that likely plays a role in the ultimate hiring decision—so it’s important to treat that person as well as you’ll treat your interviewer.
Put your phone away
It’s a natural tendency to pull out your smart phone any time you have to wait: in line at the grocery store, during commercials, while you wait. But if you’re waiting in the lobby, don’t automatically default to your phone. Instead, take that time to look over your resume and think through what you want to convey during your interview. Then, when your interviewer makes his or her appearance, you won’t be caught off guard, shutting down Angry Birds and stuffing your phone back into your briefcase.
Have everything neat, organized, and accessible
You can be certain that, within the first few minutes of your meeting, your interviewer will ask for a copy of your updated resume. But if you have to dig through your bag past candy wrappers, phone chargers, and old receipts, you’re going to look a little unorganized. To make the best first impression, everything you need should be neatly organized and readily accessible: You should be able to pull out your resume, references, and even a pen (one that’s not completely mangled) on command. The less you have to rifle through your bag, the better.
Make the first move
When you’re a guest at your potential employer’s office, you probably expect that they’ll make the first move when it comes to introductions. And while that may end up being true, don’t be afraid to extend your hand first for that introductory handshake. With just that small gesture, you’re conveying that you’re excited to be there, ready to jump into your interview, confident, and self-assured.
Find a connection
After the initial introductions have been made, solidify your stellar first impression by making a connection with the interviewer. It doesn’t have to be something big—just a commonality that will get your foot in the door and start your conversation out on a this-just-might-work kind of vibe.