Tips for a Successful Interview


By Mark Carlson, Rauenhorst Recruiting Company


You’ve successfully passed the first test by developing a resume that is positioned to garner you an interview. Congratulations, a person wants to talk to you about the possibility of you coming to work for them. That’s the easy part … now for the work.

Job interviewing is a practiced and learned skill. Even the best of the best interviewers prepares and practices for their job interview. Remember there are no second chances to make a great first impression. These ten practice points should have you prepared and ready to make that lasting first impression that gets you the job.

1.  By taking care in the beginning, the end takes care of itself

 A successful job interview starts with a solid foundation. Research the employer, the job opportunity, the industry and even the hiring manager. Match your skills to the position and develop examples that display proof of your abilities. Anticipating commonly asked questions and practicing answers can remove some of the fear and angst associated with an interview. The more you know about your prospective employer and the available position the more confident and self-assured you will be in the interview. Remember, knowledge is power. Be a voracious study and learner. Follow the Boy Scout motto …“Be Prepared”.

2.  You only get one chance to make a first impression

 If you’ve done your research on the company, you have a feel for its culture and its way of doing business. Dress for that level your research indicates.While it’s better to be overdressed than under-dressed make sure you are clean, well-groomed and minimally adorned with accessories (jewelry, piercings, visible tattoos, etc.) Be sure to present yourself, cool (relaxed) confident, calm and curious. Gauge your presentation and answering style with that of the demeanor of the interviewer. Every successful interview begins with a firm solid handshake that shows confidence and strength and good eye contact that shows you are comfortable in your own skin. Use professional language and avoid slang terms, references to politics, religion, age, race or sexual orientation. Finally, be 5 minutes early. Being too early or late can be a detriment. Plan for travel, the weather and the unexpected.

3.  Be your authentic self

 Prospective employers are looking for people that perform according to their key values. Most often, honesty and integrity rank high on every list. Confident, articulate and focused individuals are the most successful. If your tendency is to be talkative, remember this is a business meeting and not about making new friends. Bringing energy and enthusiasm is important, but must be done authentically. Again, generally appearing relaxed, calm and confident are formulas for success. Avoid being too “familiar”. There is a fine balance between too much confidence or too much modesty. Somewhere in between seems to be the right fit. Being cocky or overconfident will help you see the door quickly.

4.  Ask informed and insightful questions

 Doing your research and understanding the company should lead you to developing three or four insightful and focused questions. By listening intently in the interview, you may develop an additional question or two to ask as well. The interview is also your opportunity to discover if this position is right for you as well. Interviewing is a two-way street. Use your opportunity to gather as well as disseminate information. Asking questions also demonstrates how well you listen.

5.  Watch your body language

 This goes along with the first impression. It is imperative to display positive forms of body language, such as smiling, appropriate eye contact, affirmation nods and good posture. Avoid negative forms like slouching, fidgeting, fussing with your hair and clothing and chewing gum. Particularly annoying is clicking a pen and shaking your leg up and down. These behaviors demonstrate weakness, a lack of confidence and may even give the appearance of being desperate. You know you can do the job. Now show them you can do the job.

6.  Interviewing is really a sales call

 You are selling yourself. The interview should sell the company that you are the best person to fit the pain they are experiencing by this position being open and the benefit you bring by filling it. Be sure to ask about next steps, deadlines and the need for any follow up. Having short, concise and clear answers with supporting examples shows you prepared, knowledgeable and trustworthy.

7.  A thank you letter correspondence is not old fashioned; it’s essential

 Email, postal mail and in person are great ways to convey your sincere interest in the position as well as your ability to communicate and show social grace. The age of the person you are sending the thank you to and the timing of filling the position are determining factors as to email, snail mail or in person are chosen. The thank you should be well prepared, well thought and somewhat personal. It should be succinct and professional. Shorter is better than longer. If you forgot a salient point you wanted to include in the interview the thank you could be a place for such a communication if it is short and easy to include. Write the thank you note the day of the interview or the next day at the latest.

Mark Carlson is a Senior Account Manager and Integrator at Rauenhorst Recruiting Company in Minneapolis, MN. He holds an MBA in Organizational Design and Development from St. Thomas University in St Paul, MN. As an entrepreneur he has built and grown four different businesses over his career span, is a consultant to small businesses and helps others to higher levels of success as a life and health coach.

About Rauenhorst Recruiting

In today’s business climate, Rauenhorst Recruiting consistently demonstrates its proprietary retained search process results in strategic hires that drive revenue and propel real, profitable business growth. Rauenhorst Recruiting has a long history of building teams for many top firms in Minnesota and the United States.

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