Your resumé has caught their interest, the interview has been set up and the butterflies are now fluttering in your belly. Welcome to the first step in getting your career rock-and -rolling. You tailored your resumé to make yourself the number one candidate for the position, and now it’s time to prepare for the first face-to-face meeting with your potential new employer.
Being selected out of hundreds or even thousands of applications is a major accomplishment, and you should feel confident that you are indeed an attractive candidate. Your next job is to leave an impression on the person doing the hiring, because a great first impression can strengthen your chances tenfold.
Interview etiquette 101
When meeting someone for the first time, body language can be just as important as the words that come out of your mouth—if not more important. It’s something your parents have been saying to you since you were old enough to be yelled at: SIT UP STRAIGHT! Posture is essential when trying to project yourself as engaged and present; slouching and shrugged shoulders only make you look uninterested.
Eye contact is a major, but sometimes forgotten aspect of conversation. Look the recruiter in the eye when speaking to them. Also, don’t be afraid to speak with your hands—it shows the person at the other side of the desk that you have passion behind your words, and you’re not just going through a predetermined set of lines.
Finally, and this is very important: if you smoke, leave them at home. Nothing could be worse (or bring an interview to a close more quickly) than smelling like an ashtray left out in the rain.
Research, research, research!
Most people walk into a job interview with only a general idea of what sort of responsibilities the position will hold. But wouldn’t you rather be the one asking a couple of key questions than stumbling through a possible wrong answer?
Gaining a little more knowledge about the company and the position gives you a leg up when it comes to proving yourself to be the best fit, but also shows the recruiter that you’ve taken the time to try to understand how the company is run and how you can be a successful part of it.
Don’t be nervous about being nervous
Seriously, sweaty palms can make a handshake feel kind of funny, but a little nervousness is expected! You’ve got a finite amount of time to make the kind of impression that will land you the job. The recruiter knows that you don’t have ice water running through your veins, so don’t work yourself up even more by trying too hard to stay calm, cool and collected.
Don’t put too much pressure on yourself. You’re in the recruiter’s office for a reason: they believe you have the skills to make this job your own. So give yourself some credit, because the hardest part—being noticed—is already complete.