You made it through the resume writing and the application process--congratulations! Now, you've been contacted by a recruiter who wants you to come in and formally interview! This is your chance to demonstrate your interest, aptitude, and qualifications for the role. Although interviews may seem intimidating, there is a method to best prepare yourself. It is important to remember you are in the "driver's seat" during the interview--try not to become overwhelmed. After all, this may be the first time you meet your new manager. Use this Cheat Sheet to help present yourself as the best candidate for the role!
DO A DRY RUN
Make sure you know where you are going! Do a "test run" before your interview; make sure you know the building, how to get there, the office/suite number, etc. Confirm any logistical details and directions with your recruiter or HR contact. Arrive early (10-15 minutes)--you don't want to miss it!
Avoid any "signs" of casualness, including drinking a beverage other than water, wearing a hat or sunglasses. Make sure to dress professionally--even if the environment or office culture seems more casual. If this is a virtual interview, make you have provided your Skype/Facetime credentials before the call and you allot time for a "tech" run. Bring copies of your resume, cover letter, and any appropriate application materials (i.e. writing samples, portfolios, etc).
ASK THE RIGHT QUESTIONS
Ask direct, relevant questions that address specific parts of the job or department (i.e. can you talk more about "x" project? Can you discuss your team's strategic plan and priorities?). Come prepared with a few questions in advance. Don't forget: you are in the driver's seat--you should be equally "interviewing" the interviewer. What do you really want to know about the company and the department?
STUDY, STUDY, STUDY
Make sure you do your due diligence and research on the company well before. Review the job description at least a few more times, and make sure you have read up on the company, department, team, etc. If you know the interviewer, try to look them up on LinkedIn. Check out your LinkedIn networks--do you have a mutual contact? If so, engage them!
SEND A THANK YOU NOTE
Although sometimes discounted, thank you notes can be make it or break it--send a thank you note that both thanks the interviewer(s) and synthesizes the highlights of your conversation. Avoid sending the same form or generic letter--make it personal and memorable. Make sure you take a business card as well.
PRACTICE YOUR ELEVATOR PITCH
Spend time developing and rehearing your Elevator Pitch! This is a critical step that will help you organize your thoughts and will thus help in facilitating the conversation with the hiring manager and interviewers. While you may not be asked to specifically cite your "elevator pitch," this technique allows you to organize your presentation to a hiring managers.
CONFIDENCE MATTERS--KNOW YOURSELF
Finally, confidence is truly critical and matters during the interview. Your enthusiasm will show to a hiring manager or hiring team--it can be the difference between a candidate who is hired or not. Also, it may be cheesy, remember to smile! Your attitude and energy will help demonstrate your interest in the role.