Don’t turn down an interview even if the job isn’t the right fit. Interviews make great practice. Activity breeds activity. The more job search activity you have and the more people you are meeting, the more opportunities you will be able to create for yourself.
Prepare for the job interview. Go online and research the company, including any recent announcements. If possible, also research the individual who will be interviewing you. This is about you interviewing the company as much as it is about them interviewing you.
Turn off your cell phone. Better yet, leave it in the car.
Dress professionally. Dress conservatively and nicer than the actual job might require. Dress professionally even if you’re just stopping by the company to pick up or drop off an application because the person taking that application might be the one interviewing you later.
Have a firm handshake and good eye contact.
Prepare an introduction. Going into the interview, have a quick, concise introduction that explains what you do and want to do.
Be prepared to answer “Tell me about yourself”. Have a one sentence summary of what you do professionally. Then 1-2 sentence explanation of accomplishments you are proud of. Close with a one sentence statement of what you want to do next that matches the job you are applying for.
Follow the tempo of the interview. Pay attention to the voice, inflection and body language of the person conducting the interview. Try to emulate them and mirror some of their body language in order to build rapport. Ask questions – it shows you are interested.
One of the best questions to ask is what they expect of the person they are hiring. What are they looking for in the person who takes the job? What problem or issue are they trying to solve by filling this position? Relate how your experience can be of value to their situation. Verbalize your previous accomplishments and achievements as well as your personal strengths.
Don’t talk negatively about previous employers, even if they were a major reason you left. Don’t trash them. Keep things positive.
Appear organized. Have references ready in case the interviewer asks for them.
After an interview, a follow-up thank you letter or email is simply a business courtesy; and it is also a chance to reiterate qualifications, reemphasize a desire for the position, or bring something up that didn’t get mentioned in person. Use it as an opportunity to sell yourself again. Write a brief note to each individual who took part in the interview within 24-48 hours. If there is any doubt over correct names, spelling, or titles, call the office to double-check. (When you go in for an interview, asking for the business card of everyone you meet should make this part a lot easier.)
There is a debate about whether hand-written notes still hold a special place. On the one hand they stand out but may sit on the person’s desk for a while. They may also never reach their recipient, and by most accounts an email will suffice.