It's time for your in-person interview. Maybe you're here after acing an initial phone interview, or maybe you just skipped straight to this stage. You have a suit cleaned and pressed, copies of your resume ready in a folder, and dreams of new business cards dancing in your head. Here are the steps you should take in order to impress your interviewer enough so you keep progressing through the hiring process.
1. Know your stuff backwards and forwards.
"Do your homework" and "be prepared" should already be catch phrases burned into your brain. You should be digging deep into industry research, looking for information about the company, its competitors, and anything currently or imminently relevant in the field. Scope out some current employees on LinkedIn. Learn everything you can so you can go in and dazzle them.
2. Anticipate problems you'll be asked to solve.
Set yourself apart from the crowd by making sure to brainstorm solutions to the employer's problems before the interview. The open position is probably focused on one section of the company. Have ideas ready to describe how you will help solve issues specific to the department that is hiring. Show the value of what you bring to the table—in concrete terms. Make your interview not about you personally, but about what you can do for this employer.
3. Get the intel on your interviewer.
Figure out who you are meeting with in advance and study up. If you're meeting with a rep from human resources and not the person you'll work for, prepare to tone down the lingo and industry language you would use if a company manager were interviewing you. Pitch yourself the same way (super qualified, motivated, and a great fit), but tailor your presentation to the audience.
4. Build a relationship.
Establish a rapport by treating your interview like a conversation. Ask questions. Answer redundant questions as though you'd never heard them before. Find a way to let your interviewer talk about themselves or the company; it will ease your nerves and also get them to open up a bit. Remember to listen and engage—conversation is a two-way street. Being interested can often be more important than being interesting.
5. Have stories ready.
Anecdotes are great illustrations to the dry bullet points of your resume. For everything positive you're going to say about yourself, be prepared to have an anecdote to illustrate and back it up. Describe specific actions and solutions you took in tricky situations. Paint a picture of just how clutch you are under pressure.
6. Show how much you want the gig.
It never hurts to show your enthusiasm for the job, the industry, or the company. Don't be so enthusiastic that you bubble over and talk through every silence with your nervousness, but do express how excited you feel about the opportunity and the potential privilege of working there.
7. Strive to impress in everything you do.
Make an impact from the second you walk in the door: this includes being punctual and dressing like a grown-up professional. Mind your body language—watch the fidgeting—and shake hands with confidence. When you look and act the part, you'll already be at such an advantage that the rest of it will come quite easily.