1. Show Up on Time
Youâ€™ve heard it a million times: â€œIf youâ€™re early, youâ€™re on time; if youâ€™re on time, youâ€™re late.â€Being punctual should be a given especially when your dream job is on the line. But no matter how many times youâ€™ve heard it, itâ€™s worth mentioning again: Show up on time. Running late? Call as soon as possible to let your interviewers know. Theyâ€™ll appreciate it much more than if you offer up a lame excuse after they've already been waiting for 30 minutes.
2. Research the company.
Check out their website, reports, and what others have to say about them. This knowledge will come in handy during the interview. You'll be able to cater your image to what they're looking for if you've familiarized yourself with their mission statement and policy.
3. Dress the Part
Your appearance probably wonâ€™t be the basis of the interviewerâ€™s final decision but it can certainly play a part in how youâ€™re first perceived. When you show up in a neatly pressed suit and scuff-less shoes with a portfolio in tow, youâ€™ll come across as professional and well put-together.
If, on the other hand, youâ€™re dressed down a few notches more casual than everyone else in the office, juggling your briefcase, purse, umbrella, and a stack of resumes, youâ€™re probably not going to exude the same sense of professionalism.
4. Bring Only the Essentials
A jolt of caffeine may be necessary for you to get pumped up for your impending meeting, but donâ€™t bring your paper cup inside the office to finish off the last few sips. Sure, it doesnâ€™t seem like a huge deal (who doesnâ€™t drink coffee in the workplace?) but you probably donâ€™t want your first interaction with your potential employer (or even the receptionist) to be anything along the lines of, â€œHey, you got a trash can back there?â€
The same goes for other non-essentials, like the granola bar youâ€™re polishing off or the gum you forgot to spit out. They may not be the kiss of death but theyâ€™re not going to put you in the most favorable light.
5. Be Nice to the Receptionist
The person at the front desk may not be the hiring manager but that doesnâ€™t mean his or her impression of you doesnâ€™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 itâ€™s important to treat that person as well as youâ€™ll treat your interviewer.
6. Put Your Phone Away
Itâ€™s a natural tendency to pull out your smartphone any time you have to wait: in line at the grocery store, during commercials, while you wait for the vending machine to dispense your Diet Coke you get the picture.
But if youâ€™re waiting in the lobby, donâ€™t automatically default to your phone. Instead, take that time to look over your resume (or All-in-One Prep Guide) and think through what you want to convey during your interview. Then, when your interviewer makes his or her appearance, you wonâ€™t be caught off guard, shutting down Angry Birds and stuffing your phone back into your briefcase.
7. 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, youâ€™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 thatâ€™s not completely mangled) on command. The less you have to rifle through your bag, the better.
8. Monitor your body language.
Even if you're saying all the right things, your body language can be a dead giveaway that you don't believe what you're saying or that you're just plain uncomfortable. Keep your arms uncrossed. Keep your head high and face your interviewer. You want to seem open, approachable, and confident. Mirroring their body language will make them unconsciously pick up on your "familiarity," making them comfortable and like you.
9. Answer and ask Questions.
This is the part that will go easiest if you've done a bit of practicing. Sell yourself. Talk about your skills and experiences. Come prepared with answers to typical questions ("Why would our team be better if you were a part of it? How have you handled obstacles at previous employers?) and a few questions yourself to seem engaged and dedicated.
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