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If you haven’t been interviewed in a long time, or it’s your first interview, you may not know exactly how you should behave. To have a successful interview, there are some definite “Dos and Don’ts.” Part one of this article series introduces what you SHOULD do during your interview.

DO…

Be professional and courteous to everyone you meet. The janitor. The receptionist. The CEO. You never know who is who or who knows whom. Just be nice to all of them.

Know who you are meeting ahead of time if they will share that with you. It’s helpful to know the names and titles of the people you are meeting or at least what their role is in the company. Knowing this ahead of time will help you craft your questions. Look each of them up on www.linkedIn.com to learn more about them and their backgrounds.

Make a side note about each interviewer so that you can reference it in a follow up email or phone call. You’ll want to show the person that meeting them was a unique and personal experience for you. When you write your thank you email you can warm them up by referencing something they discussed with you during the interview. For example, “It was especially interesting for me to learn about your theory of the ideal way to structure a merger…”

Prepare for the interview by thinking about the job description. Think about each requirement and where/when you’ve had experience with that particular skill or education. Then go a step further, and think about examples of when you’ve had successes and failures. Yes, they may ask you to give an example of a time when you’ve failed. Think of one ahead of time – hopefully one that doesn’t make you look like a complete idiot! And think of two things – what you would have done differently and what have you learned from the experience. Have examples ready for discussion on all aspects of the role.

Know About the Company

Prepare by knowing what the company does, what its challenges are (by what is being said in the press) and what kind of market share it has. Keep in mind, however, that what is said in the press is often not what is going on behind the scenes so keep an open mind if you discuss any of the scuttlebutt with the interviewers.

Show enthusiasm. Let’s face it, interviewing sucks. On both sides of the table. But you’re interested in the job or you wouldn’t be there in the first place. Show it. Let them know that you think this is a great opportunity and that you’d love to be part of the team. Mystery is not attractive in this case. And you can’t weaken your negotiating power by being aloof. Get excited before the interview and hold that thought! Hiring managers want someone with positive energy on their team.

Use eye contact and smile. Body language is really important during an interview. If you can’t look someone in the eye they will not trust you. They will think you are hiding something and that does not leave a good feeling. The same is true if you don’t smile. It’s ok to be serious, but a warm smile at the beginning and end of the interview goes a long way.

Sell yourself. This is not the time to be shy about your accomplishments! Yet, perhaps you don’t like to brag or sell. You don’t have to. Just do this…before you even go to the interview, think of at least three really solid reasons why this company should hire you. Be ready to share these reasons and back them up with experiential examples. They might not ask this specifically, but you’ll be in a frame of mind to sell yourself better if you have this in the forefront of your mind. If you don’t know why they should hire you, then neither will they!

Be confident but not cocky. Sure – you know A LOT of things and you are a great hire! But, you don’t know everything and you could always learn more. Just keep that in mind.

Always Tell the Truth

Be honest. Don’t try to bluff your way through a question. If you don’t know the answer or haven’t had the experience, say so. And follow it up with “but I would love the opportunity to learn that and I learn very quickly”.

Listen when the other person is speaking. Once in a while you will get someone who is new at interviewing and may not be sure of what to do. These people tend to talk more than they ask questions. Be kind to them! Let them speak. If the interview feels like it is going off track because they don’t know what they are doing, ask the questions for them! Give them a graceful way through the interview. You may start by saying something like “what you just said sounds really interesting and I can relate to it because at my current job I…”

Shake their hand and thank them by name at the end of the interview. It’s flattering for people when you make that connection.

Ask them for their contact information so that you can follow up with them. This is flattering to them and important for your networking. At the very least, get an email address!

Send a thank-you email or note or phone call after the interview. This may sound old fashioned but recruiters, hiring managers and interview teams still appreciate it when someone takes the time to thank them for their time. You will stand out in their minds better if you do this in a timely manner!

Follow up with a phone call in 3 days. It’s ok to follow up with the major decision makers. Perhaps think of a question you had after the interview or something you read in the news about their company or industry. COMMUNICATE! While they may interview ten candidates for the job, you’ll be the one to stand out because you keep yourself fresh in their minds.

In our next post, we will discuss what NOT to do during your interview!

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