How to Act in your First Interview (Part 2)

You know how to prepare for your interview, but you aren’t sure what the interviewer is looking for. On the day of your interview, there are a couple of things that will help you look your best.

You know about the company, you know about the job, you have prepared for the interview, now what?  

How about dress for success. It’s important to look as professional as you can for the job in which you are applying, but not all jobs are equal and require the same clothes. So what do you wear?  A good general rule to follow is to dress one step up from the role you are applying for.  For example, if you are applying to be a waiter or waitress, you should dress business casual for the interview. It would not be appropriate or necessary for you to wear a suit. If you were applying for a position in an office that normally would require business casual, then take it up one step and wear a suit. Simple plan really, and don’t over think it.

Another question that gets asked, “What should I bring with me?” All you should have is extra copies of your resume. They will likely already have this, but it’s better to be safe than sorry.

One of the very first things they will notice about you is your punctuality.

I have been interviewing people for a very long time now and I can tell you first hand, the easiest way to not get the job is to be late for the interview. This tells the company that you are not serious about preparing and that you don’t value their time. It’s not important to arrive exactly on time to the parking lot, only to the interview. So get there early and sit in your car, (or your ride’s car) and go over your interview questions and answers. When it’s about time, head on in. I think 10 minutes early is the best amount of time to arrive. If you have never been to the location before, make sure you know where it is. This may mean going the day before to scope it out. Also, if your interview is first thing in the morning or at the end of the day, don’t underestimate rush hour traffic, it can double your drive time. If the unthinkable happens, and you get a flat tire, make sure you have their phone number so you can call well ahead of time to let them know. Remember, you want them to know you value their time.

You will only ever get one first impression with anyone, so make it count.

First thing of course, is you being on time. Next will be the introduction.  When they come out to greet you, or you are led away to the meeting place, make sure you are standing to firmly shake their hand and look them in the eye. Anything else would give a less than favorable impression. When seated in the interview, be conscious of your body language. Communication takes on all forms and if you realize it or not, your body language is communicating for you too. Building rapport with the interviewer will help them remember you. Overall, be friendly and smile, it will even help you feel more at ease. Your body should show that you are relaxed and friendly, so sit up straight, face them, and maintain eye contact.  

A last item to remember is that if you know anyone else that works there, don’t be afraid to speak up and tell your interviewer about it.

Showing that you already have friends that work there will ease the hiring manager’s mind that you can fit in on the team. Also, it gives the manager an opportunity to ask them about your work ethic, skills, and personality. You can never have too many friends when it comes to making a good impression.  

During the interview, try and remember these seven simple tips for success. Even if you do not have the experience or skills to perform the job on day one, you can always control these in the interview:

  1. Stay cool and collected – Being visibly too jittery or nervous is a symptom of being unprepared.
  2. Be confident – It’s better to not know the answer confidently, than to know the answer timidly in an interview.
  3. Be honest – Honesty will demonstrate you have a good sense of integrity, something every manager wants.
  4. Be flexible – Managers need people that can be available to help whenever and wherever.
  5. Make eye contact and avoid distractions – A sign of an engaged participant is strong eye contact, and for goodness sake, keep that phone in the car!
  6. Listen and take notes – A sign of a good future employee is one that can take directions, learn from them, and act on them.
  7. Thank the interviewer – Their time is as valuable to them as yours is to you and you should be appreciative of it.

Enjoy this experience, it only happens once!


Read Part 1: How to Prepare for your First Interview


Joseph Holland joined ResponsiveEd as the Director of Recruiting in 2014 after numerous years spent recruiting and designing recruiting strategies in a variety of industries. His passion is for working with candidates and stakeholders alike to find leaders for his organization today and identify and train emerging leaders to take us into the future. Joseph has spent his professional career in the Talent Acquisition space but learned the true meaning of leadership as a Non-Commissioned Officer in the US Army.  During this time frame, he began to develop a framework of qualities and characteristics that has enabled him to be successful in countless leadership searches for his organizations. Joseph makes his home in the Dallas / Ft. Worth area with his wife and two children and is an avid runner.

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