How to make a good impression and start your job interview off on the right foot
For the most part, an interview is just a conversation between someone who’s trying to fill a job (the interviewer), and someone who wants to fill that job (you, in this case). I’m going to call your interviewer “Andy” because this section feels weird if I keep saying “your interviewer” over and over.
We’ll start with a general overview of what to be ready for in your interview, and then I’ll talk a little about the different venues where you might interview.
Make sure you show up early so that you’re waiting on Andy to begin. Never keep your interviewer waiting—there are few faster ways to make a very bad first impression. Odds are that Andy has just left a meeting, or ended a client call, or scarfed down his lunch so he could make sure you get started on time. If you’re late, he’ll be frustrated right out of the gate. Frustrated people aren’t likely to recommend their frustrators for jobs.
Before the interview begins, make sure you know your interviewer’s name if at all possible. (It’s “Andy”, remember?)
Bring a notebook and your résumé
What this means when you’re interviewing in person
Take a notebook and a pen. Don’t make a big show of it, but take some notes during your conversation. You may want those notes later, and it looks more professional. (Yes, this is basically just acting. You should still do it.)
Make sure to bring multiple copies of your résumé, printed on good paper with good ink. Assume Andy doesn’t already have your résumé, and have it ready if he needs it. You’re already bringing a notebook, so put your résumé in there as well.
What this means when you’re interviewing virtually
You should have a notebook even if you’re interviewing virtually (on the phone or videoconference). This could be a virtual notebook (like Evernote), but you need to be prepared to take notes and let Andy know when you’re writing things down.
Have your résumé ready to send electronically if you need to. You’ve probably already submitted it online to start the application process, so just make sure you have that version of your résumé handy in case Andy doesn’t have it.
Most of the time, the interview will begin with a little small talk. “So, you know Tom Smith huh?” or “I see you went to Florida State. I’m a Gator, so hopefully we’ll get through this okay.” Try to give accurate, concise responses. Don’t spend 20 minutes talking about that one time Tom jumped off the hotel balcony into the pool at a sales conference a few years ago. Make sure your answers are genuine, and take the opportunity to relax a little bit so that you’re both comfortable during your interview.
Once the introductions are over, you’ll usually move into the question and answer portion of the interview.