When a potential employer invites you in for a face-to-face chat, it’s critical to research sample questions, anticipate some curveballs and practice your responses…for your mirror, your family, whomever. But while you’re preparing for your conversation, consider these "silent interview" tips, too — advice that acknowledges other things, aside from your answers, that employers just may judge you on (before, during and after the interview). Master these, and you’ll be good to go. Good luck!
Got a public Twitter stream, Facebook page or Instagram account?
If you haven’t already, take a good look at each of your social media presences. Just as you’re researching them, the organizations you apply to will likely do research on you as well, says Peter Leighton, senior vice president of Recruiting for Combined Insurance. “Make sure there’s nothing in your profile or content that will give them a negative impression.” If that means deleting Tweets, making your account private or removing it altogether, get to it.
Dress the part
When it comes to wardrobe, Kirsten Angeli, Manhattan fashion stylist at Kirsten Angeli Fashion Consulting, tells us, “While there are no absolute rules, a good tip is to dress as you would if you were already working at the company.” If you’re interviewing for a corporate job, your wardrobe basics should include formal business wear, she says. Off to a creative agency for, say, a design job? They may like to see a bit of self-expression, but keep it minimal. “A colored or patterned conservative shoe or bag, perhaps one sophisticated piece of statement jewelry to add interest to an otherwise conservative outfit. It's always better to err on the conservative.”
Get your outfit ready ahead of time
Once you know what you’re going to wear, plan ahead. Pick up your suit from the dry cleaners days before you need it, stresses Joseph Terach, CEO of Resume Deli. It might be lost or ruined, or you may hit traffic the day before your interview and fail to get to the cleaners before they close, he says. Why not get it home and hanging up as early as possible?
A nicely pressed outfit isn’t the only thing employers want to see. “Aim for a polished, well-groomed look with neat and clean hair and fingernails, no strong scents, no obvious piercings or tattoos, shoes shined, and paperwork neatly enclosed in a binder or briefcase,” says Leighton. (We’ll add to that a few obvious-but-worth-it-to-remember tips: no chewing gum during the interview, no hats and wear deodorant!)
Be nice to everyone
From the moment you step foot onto the company's property until the moment you walk or drive away, assume someone whose opinion matters could be watching or observing you, says Laurie Berenson, job search strategist and president of Sterling Career Concepts, LLC. This includes arriving in the parking lot in a clean car and acting professionally in the lobby, elevators, hallways and restroom, she adds. “Remember: you don't know who you don't know. That person in the elevator or lobby overhearing your personal cell phone call, for instance, might be the hiring manager or a potential colleague.” And always be nice to receptionists and secretaries, too. “Their opinions count, and first impressions are tough to change.”
Sit up straight!
During the interview, posture and body language can say just as much as your answers. Berenson’s advice: “Sit upright, tall and slightly forward on the seat. This gives the appearance that you are interested in the conversation, while leaning back or relaxing in the seat may give the interviewer the sense (however false) that you are not very interested in the position.”
Then follow up, the right way
Follow-up is an important part of the interview process, advises Leighton. “Send a personal note right away to thank the interviewer for the opportunity to meet. Express your interest in joining the organization and affirm one or two key points about why you believe you’re a good fit for the position.” If you don’t hear back in a week or so, feel free to ask if a decision has been made and, if not, when it will be made, he adds. “Polite yet persistent follow-up signifies your professionalism and emphasizes your interest in the job.”