The ABC’s of Face to Face Interviews

There are many important points of a face to face interview that need to be considered. These are some of the most rudimentary.   We will call them the ABC’s:

-Dress for the occasion:

This does not always mean wear a suit whether you are male or female. I recently sent a candidate on an interview and they specifically said do not wear a suit as they are business casual. Do your best to find out from the person who set you up on the interview what the dress code for the interview is and how you should dress. If you can’t find this out then the rule of thumb is to dress professionally.  For a man you can’t go wrong with a pair of dress slacks, dress shirt with a collar and a sports jacket. You can always remove the jacket if it is more casual. For a woman slacks and a nice shirt will work. If you are interviewing for a bank or financial company a suit or pant suit may be in order.

-Come early:

Often at an interview there will be some paperwork to fill out such as an application, background check permission etc. Coming early you can often get this information taken care so it does not cut into the actual interviewing time. Also if you are driving or being driven to an interview coming early can handle if there are any traffic problems. Beyond these points there is something to be said for getting a little adapted to your surroundings before beginning your interview. I will make you more relaxed and can even give you a feel for the people coming in and out of the office.

-Bring prepared documents

It is good to have a small binder with several nice copies of your most recent resume. Also you should bring a list of your references on a separate sheet with their name, email, title, when you worked for them and phone numbers to reach them. If you are filling out an application at the interview a sheet with everything you would put on the application is generally a good idea, include exact dates of employment, who your boss was etc. will make it much easier to fill out your application. Human Resources may ask you questions on what you wrote on your application and if necessary you can refer back to this information. If you have a portfolio that supports your skills, say you are in marketing or Graphic Design, bring that with as well.  I would not whip it out at a moment’s notice like your Mother does with embarrassing pictures of you when you were an infant in the bathtub when you prom date comes over, But if requested at least you have it ready.

-Get business cards

Ask for business cards from everyone you interview with. Other than the simple fact it is a good professional thing to do, it also serves a few other purposes. Sending a thank you email is a good idea right after the interview and without a direct email address to the interviewer it is difficult to do this and make sure the email is received.

lso if you do not get a response for a while from the company you have a contact point to follow up with. Lastly the contacts you meet at an interview can be very useful in the future even if you don’t get the job.

-Make a good first impression

Make sure you smile look in the eye and shake the hand of your interviewer when you meet the person who is interviewing you. Try to be genuine as you do this. A fake or strained smile can do more damage than good. Be yourself, interviewers are looking to find out who you are not a just a perfect version of yourself you are portraying at the interview. Plus if you are hired and the fake version of you is all they see during the interviewing process, when they meet the real you, who is to say that your real personality is the right match for the culture of the company and not the fake one.

-Get your questions answered

Interviewing is a two way street. Certainly you’re there to be asked questions by the company to determine if you’re right for the role they are hiring for, but equally important you’re there to find out if the role and company are right for you. Definitely you need to have questions ready for the hiring authorities that you could end up working for related to job. But also it is important to have questions for human resources about benefits and the company in general. The more information you have early in the interviewing process the easier it will be for you to compare this opportunity to other potential opportunities you may have come up.

-Find out what the next steps are before you leave

A face to face interview for most companies is a considerable amount of effort and does not occur unless they are seriously considering hiring you.  Often it is the last step other than references or a background check before an offer of employment is extended. While you are at a face to interview and you are interacting with real live people, there is a certain obligation from the individuals you are dealing with to answer your questions; it would be rude otherwise. Therefore you should definitely not leave the building without getting some sense of what the next step is in the interviewing process as the sense of obligation to communicate with you tends to be much less when you are no longer physically at their offices. Take for example after a week of hearing nothing from the company you call HR and get nothing but an answering machine and no call back. The nerve racking thing about this lack of communication is that it does not necessarily mean that they are not interested in you and moving on. It truly may just be “their process”. So if you can find out exactly what their process is before you leave you will save yourself a lot of frustration.

Interviewing is Like Dating

I have often run into situations that this statement is true. The act of interviewing like dating can make candidates as well as interviewers act in irrational and even down right crazy ways. Candidates lose perspective and take everything way too personally and interviewers totally lose sight of what is common courtesy and sometimes even common sense.

Here are some real life examples:

A candidate was interviewing for a development job. She was living on one side of the Country and the job was on the other side of the Country. After two very good phone screens,  the recruiter working with the candidate followed up with the company to see if they were ready to fly her out for a face to face. Instead to the recruiter’s surprise, the hiring manager said he had already left the candidate a message that they wanted to make her an offer.

Now you would expect her to think what great news! “They love me so much after two phone screens they want to make me an offer!”

Well think again…

Now compare this to dating, you have been on two dates and suddenly you get a phone call from budding romantic partner saying they love you & they want to move in.

How do you think most people would react?

Nine out of Ten would be a bit freaked out by this. “Will he ask to marry me in a weak?” “Hell I have never even been to where he lives it could be a rat hole?”  “Is he a serial killer?”

And sure enough the candidate freaked out as well saying she was “feeling pressured” asking “is there something wrong with this job”. The recruiter thinking fast worked it out for her to go for a face to face so she could see the area & also the office. But by that time the damage was done. The candidate suddenly got sick, and could not be reached because of a sore throat and could not talk on the phone. Two days later she texted the recruiter she had taken another job.

Lesson learned: Doing things in the right order does matter in interviewing, dating and disarming a bomb. Cutting the blue wire before red can be very dangerous.

Now on the flip side to this often candidates move to fast and talk themselves right out of a job before they even know it is right for them.

For example:  A candidate submits their resume through a recruiter for a sales job. They receive an initial phone screen from human resources. During the call the HR person tells them to their dismay the position requires you to be in the office every day & that the commissions for this job is expected to be 30K less than was represented to them.

Unfortunately it is not that unusual to have HR & the hiring managers have different ideas as to what the job requires or even pays. That is why recruiters are so determined to speak with the hiring manager to take a job order.

Well now back to the example. The candidate in a very upset tone calls the recruiter who set them up for the interview and says that even if they want another interview that he is not interested now as he was lied to about that position was a virtual office & commissions were uncapped.

So after a long conversation the recruiter calms the candidate down enough & assures them that the job is in a virtual office & the pay is uncapped because that’s what the hiring manager said. So a second interview occurs & the candidate actually gets the job.

Lesson Learned: Interviewing & relationships are a work in progress. A job description often evolves as candidates are interviewed & priorities change. Also the truths you have on the first date as you are trying to impress the person in front may be quite a bit different 3 weeks later after you have had two or three dates.

Now besides the dating comparison, both these examples show why having a recruiter is an important component in many hiring processes. Would A-Rod or Payton Manning think of negotiating their own contracts, of course not!

Unfortunately not every company can afford using recruiters or have a strong internal recruiting staff and actually do a good job of hiring on their own. But still there is nothing like having a Jerry Maguire to navigate you through the “match.com” mine field called interviewing.

I know I had you at Hello…