J Patrick + Associates Blog

Interview Prep: 101, Advice from the JPA Executive Recruiting Team

Posted by Elissa Jane Mastel on Sun, Aug 14, 2011 @ 11:45 AM



By guest blogger Colleen Moran


job interview j patrick associates


These days it can be difficult to get a call back from a job and even harder to be asked in for an interview.  Once you get your foot in the door, being fully prepared for your interview day is essential.  This is your opportunity to share with the company all your great attributes and what you uniquely can bring to the job.  If you are  well prepared for the interview, you will stand out from other candidates and have the best chance to land the job.  Even the most qualified candidate on paper who fails to properly prepare for an interview can  be left questioning “What did I do wrong?”  Don’t be left questioning - Here are some great tips to ensure you are ready for your interview!

  • Getting to the Interview.
    • Never arrive late to an interview. You only have one opportunity to make a first impression and lateness instantly taints the prospective employer’s opinion of you.  Lateness is unprofessional and tells the interviewer that you do not respect his/her time.   If you are interviewing in an unfamiliar place, drive to the interview location a few days before the interview.  You will feel more confident in the time you need to get there, directions, and where to park, giving you less things to worry about on the day of the interview.  
  • Arrive early.  
    • Plan on arriving 10-15 minutes before the interview is scheduled to begin, giving you time to check in, fill out paperwork and use the facilities.  If you arrive too early, you will have to figure out what to do with yourself while you wait; a choice that is observed and could reflect negatively on you.   Also, interviews can be schedule specifically so that the candidates do not run into each other, so you want to ensure you are not crowding the waiting space or creating an awkward situation.   
  • Know what to bring.  
    • Bring a professional looking briefcase or bag filled with a few “just-in-case” items such as breath mints, a comb, and tissues.  Always arrive to your interview with a few copies of your up to date resume printed on heavy paper.  You may even want to store these in a portfolio. Pack a clean pad of paper and two pens with you so you are ready to take notes if needed. Having what you need demonstrates organization and readiness for the job.  
  • Present yourself professionally.
    • Show respect to everyone you come into contact with!  The interviewer is not the only one watching and may not have total control over hiring candidates.  Greet people with a friendly smile and firm handshake. Be polite to the receptionists as they frequently report back to their bosses on candidates’ behaviors.  Professionalism is a trait you want to convey when you go for an interview.  Be sure to dress in a professional, modest manner, covering up any piercings or tattoos.  The interview is a formal affair, dress the part!  Men: wear a suit and tie or a shirt and tie with slacks.  Woman: Wear a business suit, skirt, or blouse.  Keep your shoes professional and remember to use the iron! Dressing professionally is also a great way to boost your confidence and poise.  No matter how hip or casual the company seems, this is your only opportunity to make a first impression and they will be expecting you to be dressed for success.   
  • Do your homework.  
    • Before going into an interview, you should know about the company you may work for.  Search for your company at Hoovers.com, a database of comprehensive information on companies, industries, and executives.  Visit the company’s website, Google the company and read their blog or twitter page so you can see their most up to date happenings. Talk to your recruiter.  They are a great resource to get information about the company culture and details about different aspects of the company.  Daniel Sullivan, a recruiter, says, "Unprepared candidates do not have a legitimate shot at the position.  Preparation for an interview is your first work assignment for that employer. Demonstrating a command of the firm's market, product or service offerings and competitive position shows the hiring manager that you have initiative, thoroughness and attention to detail.  These are characteristics all employers desire, regardless of position."  Taking time to do your research allows you to tailor your answers to fit the company and highlight positive attributes you see there.  But do not feel you have to showcase your research.  Avoid criticizing or questioning the company as this research could work against you.   

Colleen Moran is the latest addition to the J. Patrick + Associates Executive Search Firm Marketing Team. 


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