Practical Tactical Thursday – Onsite Interviews

There are so many ways an onsite interview could go very wrong, very quickly. Here are some quick tips that Human Resources and the hiring manager are not telling you.

Ditch the nerves.

Everyone gets jitters when they are about to walk into the lion’s den and interview with their potential dream job position. But your nerves will be the leading reason why you don’t land the job – they are doing you no good. Instead of getting all worked up about the interview and feeling unprepared, go into the interview as though you are going to talk to one of your parent’s friends – telling them what you do for a living.

The more you can think of the interview itself as a conversation, the better off you are. You are not going in to meet royalty – the interviewer is a person, at work. That simple – you know what being at work feels like, so approach accordingly.

Your arrival time, matters.

I’m not quite sure what is going on lately, but so many people are arriving to their interviews either late or way too early. Either way, this is not the first impression you want to provide your potential employer. When you know you are going to be late due to unforeseen obstacles (traffic is a lame excuse – be sure to give yourself more than enough time to make it there), call the interviewer immediately.

There is nothing worse than showing up late without some advance notice. And almost as bad, is arriving too early. Put yourself in the interviewer’s shoes – they have meetings, things booked all day long. While your interview is a big deal to you, it is just another meeting for him/her.

So when you get there super early, we have to stop everything we’re doing to attend to you (or at the very least, feel pressured to do so). Make sure you walk through the front door ten minutes before your interview. If you have to sit in your car for 30 minutes beforehand, do that please (we aren’t watching you).

Dress to impress.

I know I talk about this a lot, but apparently there are still some questions as to what is work appropriate (based on what you all are wearing!). Regardless of the type of company you are going to, please dress up – wear a suit or equally appropriate attire.

Do not wear revealing tops (no cleavage people, at all) and wear skirts that cover the right things. Oh – and shoes. Men: please wear “dressy” shoes that do not look like you just walked through mud in them. Women: no hooker heels – totally inappropriate; scale it down and lower the heel (less than three inches), particularly if you can’t walk in them.

Do your homework.

I can understand not being fully prepared for a phone interview (although the HR in me frowns on that), but when you are going to be meeting people onsite, you should have done your homework – print out a copy of the job description and know exactly what is included; review the company website; understand their mission and values; and also do some LinkedIn research on who you are meeting with.

Not only will you be asked about all of these things in one way or another, you will come across as very interested in the position without having to try. My secret trick is LinkedIn research – at a minimum, search for your interviewer’s name. You can find out where they have worked before, what their positions have been, and possibly find some commonalities with them (like where they went to school, clubs, etc).

I like to go even further and start clicking on the “others who looked at this person also viewed” suggestions LinkedIn provides. You will get a feel for the type of people who work at the company and also be prepared for any last minute interviewer additions.

Be an amplified version of yourself (in most cases).

If you are usually quiet and reserved, now is the time to break out of that shell and be more outgoing and bubbly. In my experience, the candidate who has the most experience AND is most likeable/has the most presence, is the person who ends up getting the job. The interviewer is looking for people he/she wants to work with, interact with, on a daily basis. You do not want to come across as a wallflower or overly aggressive. You want to be concise, confident (not cocky) and engaging at all levels.