Top 9 Ways to Impress Your Future Employer

November 2, 2011  |  
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Welcome to the slowest job market in 20 years! If you’re out there trying to find a job, check out the top nine ways to impress your interviewer. These tips come from professional headhunters and popular job posting sites. When it comes to interviews, first impressions are everything, and can be scary. According to the Association for Psychological Science, you only have 1/10 of a second to make your first impression. Lord, the pressure!

UC Davis Human Resources explains that many companies will call to speak with you before even scheduling an interview to “pre-screen” you. Yes, this means that you have already used your 1/10 of a second. However, if you score an interview, then you have clearly already made a good impression, so when you walk into the office, be sure to exude confidence,  a smile, and be sure to do a few of these other things as well…

1. Do your research. Find out everything you can about the company. Knew that already, huh? Well, don’t do the same ‘ol boring and bland research. Search online and set up a Google alert that offers immediate information on any news concerning the company you’re applying with or the industry as a whole. Try to find out background information on the position you’re interviewing for, the interviewer, whoever has been in back-and-forth contact with you–basically any information you can. And when you’re interviewing, work in the information you’ve learned. Your goal is to be the most informed candidate they speak with. Also, grab a friend and ask them to ask you questions that might come up in your interview. If accessible, talk to current members of the company to get a feel for the corporate culture so that you can ask relevant questions during your short time to stand out.

2. Ask for letters of recommendation. A rule to live by is to try to get a letter of recommendation from each and every employer you have when you leave a job, or if your manager leaves the company. If you don’t have letters already compiled, start reaching out to previous employers and gathering them. It’s best to give them at the interview to be a step ahead of the game. However, it’s better late than never, so email or mail them as soon as their obtained, even if you have already completed the in-person interview.

3. Dress to impress. It is never good to be under-dressed for an interview, so be sure to wear slacks, a button-down, and a tie if you are a guy. Girls should pair either a button down shirt or dressy blouse with slacks or a skirt. In order to be taken seriously and be considered a professional, you must dress the part. But don’t “play” a part, and by that I mean, don’t pile on so much makeup that you look like you’re interviewing for a role in Cats.  Also, it’s smart to get dressed in your outfit so you know that you will be comfortable and at ease the day of the real interview. Too tight? Stockings on the itchy side? Hey, at least you have time to switch it up!

4. Arrive 10 to 15 minutes early. Being rushed and stressing out is not helpful, especially when you are trying to make a positive, lasting impression. Arriving early gives you a minute to put yourself together and fill out any necessary paperwork that the office may need of you. On top of that, heading out the house early gives you the chance to make sure you can turn things around if you get lost or run into any issues that should be resolved ASAP (bad breath?). Being punctual is a skill that most employers require in a worker. The receptionist will be aware of your early arrival and she might just have a second in the hallway to mention that to your future boss!

5. Handshake and Smile. Your handshake should be firm and confident. You don’t want a weak shake that doesn’t exude confidence, but you don’t want to break their wrist either all cocked diesel! Also remember steady eye contact; this simple gesture shows that you are listening carefully and being respectful. A laid back smile, no pageant queen smiles, also shows respect and confidence. So you know what that means: no food beforehand that will leave any “distractions” between your chompers.

6. Bring a portfolio. This can include samples of your work if you’re a writer, editor, advertiser, designer or artist of some sort, or any past projects relevant for the position. A professional looking notebook and pen with a fresh copy of your resume, cover letter, and letters of recommendation (see #2) is a simple and great choice as well. It shows that you are prepared, ready to take notes on any and everything, and want to learn about your interviewer and the company while sharing information about yourself. It can be helpful to write out questions you might have about the position to keep you on track when you are talking, or leave notes to be ready for complicated questions. It’s also smart to take notes while the interviewer is talking, to show your attention and genuine interest in the position.

7. Conversation > Interrogation. It will be easier all around if you can play your part in making the interview a conversation rather than an interrogation. So think about it as a conversation before you go into the room where the interview will take place. Remember that it is your job to learn about the company and position during the interview, and is therefore your time to “interview” your interviewer as well. Be prepared to ask about office behaviors, chances for advancement, and more. It’s a two-way street.

8. Send a “thank you” card ASAP. A handwritten, mailed card makes a strong impression, simply because no one does it anymore. But an email is better than nothing at all when worse comes to worse. Use this opportunity to say what a pleasure it was to meet with them, to thank them for their time and consideration and emphasize your interest in the position. You can also use this as a chance to follow up with any information you may have forgotten to add at the interview. Interviews can be stressful and often we get flustered and forget to mention a skill or past project that would illustrate our perfect fit. This is your second chance to make your case.

9. Keep in contact. But don’t harass. Ask your employer about his/her time frame for hiring for this position. And then ask if it would be alright if you checked back in a week or two. If he says he wants to hire immediately, give it a week and a half and then shoot over an email politely asking if they have made any decisions and reiterate your interest. You want to show that you’re interested and eager, but you don’t want to overdo it and just plain annoy them.

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