How to win the interview and land the job.

You leveraged your relationships and perfected your new resume that was hand delivered to the desired company by a current employee, and now you find yourself in the pasta aisle in the grocery store when your phone rings and the caller ID only displays a phone number. You answer the call, and it starts like this “Hello, my name is {blank} from {blank}. Your friend {blank} brought me your resume and encouraged me to consider you for the open position we have. When would be a good time for you to come in for a formal interview?” At this moment, you are so excited that you could scream in the middle of the store. I want to tell you to keep cool and take note of the person’s name who called you to set up the interview. The last thing you want to do is forget the name and not know who to ask for when you get to the interview. This is one thing that you can do that will put you ahead of half the competition. You have officially entered the pre-interview stage.

Before the Interview
I would recommend going out and buying a notebook and pen at this point as you begin preparing for your interview. After you have your pen and notebook, you need to dig deeper into the company by making notes about what they do, the position they are hiring for, their mission statement, and their values as a company. At this point, you should already have an idea of what these things are or you wouldn’t have applied, but you need to get more of an understanding that goes deeper than surface level. You need to write these things down so that in the interview, you have reference points to talk about. You also need to prepare some questions to ask at the end of the interview. You should have these written down and well thought out before you show up in the office. Some questions you might consider asking include, “What does success look like in this position?” or “What are key characteristics that you look for when hiring someone for this position?” Simply saying you don’t have any questions is unacceptable and will be the fastest way to not get a call back. If you do the front end work, you will put yourself ahead of the competition before the interview has even started.

Interview Day
It’s game day. You have put in the work. Like a sports team reviewing film on their opponent, you have studied this company and role, and now you will see how it pays off. You are mentally prepared for the interview, and now it’s time to get physically prepared. First impressions can make you or break you. When you get to the interview, you want to appeal on several levels to the hiring manager or whoever will be interviewing you. Here are a few ways that you can fail- proof your first impressions by way of appealing to the basic senses.

When you walk in, you want to command the attention of the interviewer by appealing to the eyes. Humans at their core have certain biases based on looks, whether right or wrong. That’s the way the world works, so it is important to look your best. The way that you do this is to begin by taking a shower because no one likes greasy hair. Men, shave/trim your beard, and women, shave your legs if you will be wearing a skirt or something that reveals them. Not only will you be more aerodynamic but also more eyeball-dynamic. Dress for success by wearing no less than business casual. You will need to be the judge in this aspect, but you should do your best to look sharp and professional. This last piece to the puzzle visually is to wear a watch or some other accessory.

Get your “be kind” swag to spread the love.

A handshake says a lot about a person. You want to have a firm but not overbearing handshake. You don’t want to have a limp or weak grip, but you don’t want to break their hand. There is beauty in the middle. When shaking hands, ALWAYS look them in the eyes, smile, and be confident. If there are multiple people in the room, always shake everyone’s hand in the room if they allow it. The handshake is the one thing that will set the tone of the interview more than anything else. Be confident, look them in the eyes, and give a firm handshake.

The first thing is, brush your teeth. When someone has bad breath, it’s hard to focus on anything else and they will want to get the interview over with as fast as they can. You also want to avoid drinks like coffee, smoking a cigarette, or putting in a dip directly before. If you do, it is a one-way ticket to bad breath. If you decide to use gum to give you great breath, spit it out before the interview. Do not, I repeat, do not chew gum in an interview. It is tacky and it sets the vibe that you do not have manners. Another way to play smell to your advantage is to use cologne/perfume. Be cautious if you decide to do this because you want to give them a light smell of something good, but you don’t want it to be overpowering where they feel like they need a gas mask to keep from passing out. If you decide to go this route, do it sparingly.

After impressing them with your looks, displaying confidence with your handshake, and luring them in with your scent, it is now time to knock it out of the park by speaking with eloquence. You have done the work and know this company as well as any outsider could, and it shows. Your voice is strong and you are confident when you speak because you know all about the business. You need to come into the interview more prepared than ever. One thing that you need to be prepared to answer is the question “What are your greatest strengths and your greatest weaknesses?” It’s easy to share what we are good at, but it’s hard to share were we struggle. This is a question that you need to know how to answer. The proper technique to answering about your weakness is to share your weakness but don’t leave it there. Immediately follow up with how you have learned or are learning to overcome that weakness. When you do this, it shows that you are self aware and constantly trying to get better. We all have weaknesses, so don’t be scared to share, but always be ready to share how you are taking steps to overcoming it.

Post Interview
Well, you not only survived the interview, but you thrived. You walked out with your head held high because you were prepared and nailed it. Now, you just go home and sit by the phone and wait; right? WRONG, the work is not finished yet. There is a post interview process that is important in every job opportunity, but this will work really well when you are in a highly competitive field. Your first course of action is to send a brief email to the person you interviewed with simply thanking them for taking the time out of their day to meet with you. This should be done in the first 24 hours of the end of your interview. Assuming that you have not heard back from them telling you that you have the job, send a handwritten thank you card to them on the third day after the interview. If you still have not heard anything back from them within 10 business days, give them a follow-up call checking on the status of your application. When you make this call, try to get in contact with the person that personally interviewed you. This is key because you have built a relationship with them and have a better opportunity to pull ahead of the competition. These steps are small ways to keep you at the front of their mind in the hiring process. If you have not heard anything back from them in 10-12 business days, start back with your relationships and start this process over. You will find the right job eventually, and the work you put in will be worth it when you land your dream job.

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