In Part 1 we talked a little bit about examining your goals and objectives prior to applying for a job. I’m a firm believer that an interview for a job you are passionate about is an inherently good interview; your excitement will be contagious and you’re likely to stand out among others who are just looking for a job.

Beyond that, what are some specific interview tips that you can think about/use before your next one? This is by no means an all-encompassing list, but rather some things that stand out in my mind from years of interviewing and hiring for a variety of positions.

Be on time: Nothing starts you off on the wrong foot like being late to the interview. That being said, we all know life happens. If, in spite of your best efforts, you get stuck in traffic or have a flat tire, just make the call and let your potential employer know. Offer to reschedule, but at least let them know you’re running late. That little step speaks volumes about you as a responsible person, and I don’t think it’s a deal-killer.

Be prepared: Have a copy of your resume, business cards, a portfolio/work examples if that’s appropriate. If you are winging it, it will show.

Turn off your phone: Better yet- leave it in your car.

What to wear: This has everything to do with being prepared. The time to go buy a suit is not the day before your interview. Start acting like a professional long before you have to and have some business wardrobe basics in your closet in advance of your interview. If you want to buy a new shirt or tie or blouse especially for an interview I think that’s fine, but try it on the day before. Make sure you are comfortable in whatever you decide to wear. I once saw a price tag still affixed to a suit in the middle of an interview. Not good.

What not to wear: Are you interviewing for a job where the company dress code is casual? Awesome. Overdress for the interview. Also, be very careful with cologne/perfume. A little goes a long way. Ladies: be very careful with necklines and skirt lengths. Sometimes an outfit can be “business” but inappropriate for an interview. A good rule of thumb for me is: If anything about your outfit is distracting (tie, cut, length, color) you’ve blown it. Err on the side of being conservative.

“But I need to show my style!”: Again I’ll say: If anything about your appearance is distracting, you’ve blown it. Differentiate yourself through your eye contact, your precise articulation, your direct answers and kind smile. Don’t try to do it via a blue hair or crazy earrings. You are here to sell someone on the fact that you can do a job, add value to their company and be a great cultural fit. Focus on that and that alone.

Know thy interviewer: Spend an hour or so researching the company. Know some hard facts and figures going into the interview. If you are asked “Why do you want to work here?” be able to respond not only with your skillsets, but how those mesh with the goals and objectives of the company.

Have some good questions: Most interviews will, at some point, include the question of: Do you have any questions for us/about this job? Again, be prepared. Have 2-3 good, solid questions. If you sit there like a bump on a log, or if you have three pages of questions in a legal pad (I’ve seen that, too!), I don’t think you’re doing yourself any favors.

Address the pain points: Have you had 4 jobs in 2 years? Are you a fresh graduate without much work experience? Whatever bothers you is likely something your interviewer is wondering about, too, whether they bring it up or not. My advise is: own it. Tell them explicitly why you [fill in the blank]. It shows that you are self-aware and will clear up any misconceptions they might have.

Follow up with a hand-written note: I suppose any follow up is good, but emails are a dime a dozen (or hundred, or thousand). A concise, hand-written note on nice stationary tells your interviewer a lot about you. And the majority of interviewees won’t do this. It’s a nice touch, a wonderful differentiator, and the right thing to do.

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