The following was submitted by Caroline and I would now like to share with you.
Your resumes have gone out, the phone calls have come in and finally… you’re gearing up for your first interview. Now’s the time for you to bring your qualifications to life and put a smiling, eager, confident face to the name you so proudly displayed in the header of your cover letter.
You might be thinking as long as you look ironed, cleaned and well-kempt, the interview will be cake. Think again, my friend!
First interviews are critical for establishing the possibility of your future with the company in question. As such, they should be taken seriously and prepared for intentionally. Interview 101 boils down to common sense: be on time. It’s hard to stress the importance of this cardinal rule; but equally difficult to emphasize the damage that an oversight in this arena can create. Timeliness is not only an indication of your level of responsibility and capacity to meet deadlines; it is also a sign of respect. The interviewer has a schedule to keep. You are but a single part in his or her very full day. Do what you can to show them that you realize the demands they are under and that, starting now, you can be a positive part of helping them meet every one of them.
Timeliness is important, but just step one in this initial interview phase. You should take this opportunity to showcase that you not only know your own talents, skills and experience, but you are well aware of the company’s accomplishments, goals, and trends. Research the history of the company; brush up on any recent developments or additions and make yourself aware of the company’s overall philosophy. By doing so, you will be better prepared to link your own aspirations and qualifications to the needs of the open position. Be specific! Know enough to be able to converse beyond generalities.
Part two of your research should include preparing questions to ask the interviewer. It’s sadly unimpressive when it comes to the time for your own questions and you have none. Think through the position—what do you want or need to know in order to perform the proposed responsibilities? What are the expectations from your potential superiors? What are the possibilities for development and growth?
Remember—these questions aren’t just for show or to impress. This interview is as much about you getting to know the company as it is a chance for them to size you up. Regardless of the salary, benefits or other perks that this job may bring your way, if you walk into a situation blindly or without fully understanding the role you will play or the environment you will be in, chances are, the working relationship may be short-lived or, at best, frustrating and unsatisfying (And you didn’t just get through all those eight-o-clock classes to be frustrated and unsatisfied!).
Finally, when you are preparing for your initial interview, remember to dress and present yourself in a way that is impressive, complimentary to the company’s culture, but also representative of who you are. Your professional ventures should not be a masquerade. You need to be honest about where you come from, your past experiences and your personality. Too much of your life is spent in the work place to make it an arena for a façade.
In short, heed the clock, know what you’re walking into, prepare questions that will help you evaluate the fit and be yourself. Of course, the most polished, professional version of yourself… but yourself nonetheless. Interviews are a two-way street. Do your part to contribute to the process honestly and thoroughly. And then, engage in the process. Remember… regardless of the outcome, no interview is a wasted opportunity. You will always learn more about yourself, how you relate to others and your personal and professional goals.
So congratulations on the call-back… and get to work! This is just the beginning!
Again, thank you Caroline for your insight and no doubt many of our followers will benefit from your comments.