You’ve got an interview – congratulations! As a resume and interview coach, it should go without saying that the best interview prep requires appropriate research and practice. However, to improve overall performance ON THE DAY OF THE interview, consider the following strategies:
It is always a good idea to plan your travel and arrival plan. Reduce day-of transportation stress by scoping out the location in advance:
- How long will it take you to travel to the site on the day of the interview? Consider the time of day and traffic patterns (rush hour traffic congestion or bus/train schedules.)
- If you are driving, where will you park?
Aim to arrive on site 15 to 30 minutes before your actual interview time, but it is best not to enter the interview location (check-in) any earlier than 10 minutes before your scheduled time. Sit in your car or scope out a place nearby, like a coffee shop, to wait and review notes.
If your interview is online, then double-check your lighting (make sure you’re not in the shadows or that the light is too harsh), your background (aim for decluttered) and that your digital notifications are turned off so that no one gets distracted by alerts. Make sure you have the interview software program downloaded (not everyone uses Zoom!) and that your camera and mic settings are working.
Carefully consider how to dress for the interview. Depending on the work environment or level of position, interview attire may vary. If the office is very formal – a full suit is recommended. If the office environment is more relaxed, business casual may be best (think: pressed pants, button-down or collared shirt, casual blazer or cardigan).
To help identify appropriate attire, research the office dress code by looking for clues online (website/social media) or by speaking to people who know the company. If you are completely unsure about what attire is best, err on the side of caution. Dress up with the option to remove a blazer/jacket upon arrival if the interviewers are dressed down.
Part of your professional presentation includes no distractions. Never chew gum or bring coffee or food with you into the interview and always turn off your phone!
As soon as you enter the worksite, be on your best behaviour. Treat everyone you engage with – from the security guard to the receptionist – with a friendly attitude and smile.
Beyond preparing and practicing answers and stories to common interview questions, be mindful of communication styles during the interview, both your own and the interviewer(s). Pay careful consideration to:
- How the interviewer(s) speaks. Are they outgoing or more reserved? Do they speak loud or soft? Take note and adjust your tone, volume, or pace of speech to help get on common ground.
- Your listening skills. Rushing to answer questions before hearing them all the way through indicates a lack of attention. Pause before responses to process questions thoroughly and compose thoughtful answers.
- Speech fillers and nervous actions. Be aware of distracting speech fillers: ‘like’, ‘um’ or ‘so’ or ‘uh’ or nervous foot tapping or lip chewing. Practice delivering answers in advance to catch and correct crutch words or distracting movements.
- Eye contact and facial expressions. Make a conscious effort to smile while you speak, maintaining an appropriate level of eye contact with every person in the room, so they feel heard and engaged.
It is critical to prepare, and write down, several well-thought-out questions to ask near the end of the interview. Always take the opportunity to ask questions to demonstrate interest and enthusiasm for the role and support your own decision.
Clearly convey interest in the role when the interview ends. Never assume the interviewer(s) know what you are thinking. Ask about the next steps and a decision timeframe.
Finally, compose a thoughtful thank you note/letter and send it to the interviewer()s within 24 hours. The sooner, the better. Use the thank you letter to restate interest, further address questions or pain points, and reiterate why you are the best person for the job.