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Best Practices for an In-Person Interview

Since COVID has become a regular part of our world, video interviews have become a lot more common.  However, in-person interviews are still a typical part of the hiring process.  Some things have not changed for in-person interviews, but it’s good to review best practices and address the changes COVID has added to the process.

Here are our recommendations, along with links to articles that can give additional information.

Pre-Interview:

  • Know where you are going and arrive 10 minutes early.
  • Make sure you know where to enter the building in case there are different entrances.
  • Research the company: know the competition, the growth opportunities, and consider how you could make an impact if employed by them. Ask questions, but you should already understand the basics from their website.
  • Research the person you are meeting with, so you are familiar with who they are and what they do.  It may also help with rapport if you have things in common with the interviewer.
  • Clothing – your recruiter can help with this (i.e., business casual, etc.) Based on the industry and whether there will be a plant tour, the best wardrobe choice can vary. When in doubt, dress for success.

 What to take to the Interview:

  • Pen and paper to take notes. Paper is preferred to a laptop since electronic devices create an unnecessary barrier between you and the interviewer.
  • Take several copies of your resume, ready to hand out to anyone who may not have a copy readily available.
  • A face mask, in case they require it.

During the Interview:

  • Greet everyone with a smile – assume everyone you meet is part of the interview.
  • Due to personal preferences read body language regarding shaking hands.
  • Ask permission to take notes – this eliminates any uncertainty about what you are doing.
  • Read body language to determine if you are droning on.
  • Answer the interview questions using the SAR method – Situation, Action and Result. Provide an example of a situation that fits the interviewer’s question.  Tell what action you took and the results that came from that action. (See additional note below)
  • As the interview winds down ask this question, “Is there anything I have said or not said that would prevent me from moving forward in the hiring process?”
  • Close the interview by asking what the next steps are in the process – this shows interest in the role.
  • Be enthusiastic about the role and the company. They will want to choose someone who is eager to join their team, so let your enthusiasm show.
  • Show your personality and the fact that you are an enjoyable person to be around.
  • If asked about compensation say something along the lines of “I’m seeking a great opportunity where I can make an impact while being fairly compensated according to the market and responsibilities.”

This Indeed article provides over 100 common interview questions.  This is a good place to start when you want to prepare succinct, well-thought-out answers to potential questions.

After the Interview:

  • Call the recruiter when you get in the car. This is supremely important so the recruiter can be well prepared to report back to the client.
  • Write a thank you note.  Make it as personal as possible to show you were listening.  Either email or snail mail is acceptable.  Regardless of the format, be sure to proofread your note!  This note can be sent to the recruiter to pass along, or if you have the interviewer’s email address, copy the recruiter on the email.  See this blog article for more tips on this.

Come Ready with Examples (expanded from above)

When you provide an example using the SAR (Situation, Action and Result) Method, provide a balance of “I” and “we” to show leadership and teamwork.  You want to illustrate what you’ve done within the team and its impact. Such as, “I did this so that we could achieve this.”

Be able to articulate what you’ve done for past employers and how it has impacted the business.  Have specific examples available to share how you helped the team to achieve goals.

A similar method is the STAR method in which the T stands for “task” or “targeted results”.  This article from Indeed provides a great overview and examples for this format.

Other Tips for Interviewing

Liz Wessel, CEO and co-founder of WayUp, a job marketplace for students and recent grads, adds this extra advice. “There are a handful of questions that most interviewers will ask in one way or another, so be ready to answer those regardless of what role you’re interviewing for,” Wessel says. “As you practice, make sure that the answers relate back to the company you’re interviewing for.”  This U.S. News article provides additional tips that are worth checking out.

And this article from Glassdoor, lists some common mistakes that candidates make.  Glancing through these 6 tips could save you from making the same mistakes.

In summary, know that interview preparation will take a good bit of time.  However, if you are really interested in the job, this preparation is critical.  Do your research on the company and think through your answers to potential interview questions with that specific company in mind.    Represent yourself well by dressing appropriately, showing up on time, paying attention to context clues and following up with a thoughtful note.  Be proud of your accomplishment to make it to this stage of the hiring process.  Regardless of the outcome, this is an affirmation of your skills and presence to make it this far.