Get the Interview, Get the Job: Part 2 (Updated)
So you landed an interview. Nice! Seems the cover letter blurb about your goat rescuing heroics paid off after all; uhmm...maybe not. More than likely it was the extra effort you put into developing that kick butt cover letter that has caught their attention. And now they want to see if you are who they think you are: somebody they can invest their time, effort, and money in to. So since it is obvious you have aced lesson one of this three part series, let's get your butt ready for phase 2: the interview.
The Interview. As mentioned in part one, presentation is essential for all aspects of this "get the interview, get the job" process, but especially for phase 2. The interview is the one single opportunity you'll have to make the lasting impression needed to land this gig. So it’s imperative you make it count. Remember our wise SEEG proverb: It takes 3 seconds to make a first impression, 30 minutes to change it, and a lifetime to maintain it? This most assuredly will hold true during the interview. So pay attention as we break down the first two principals of this adage for you in all your ineptness. Giddy up!
The 3 Seconds. Verbally, there is not much that can be said within 3 seconds. Visually? As the saying goes a picture is worth a thousand words; most of which is inspired during the first few seconds. Need I say more? “So how do present the best picture” you might ask? Here are the 3 areas you need to focus on:
1. The suit- Dress to impress. There is no other philosophy that works better in this situation. Therefore, what better way to impress your future superiors than to put on a suit? The perfect suit for your interview should fit you well, dignify the occasion, and produce confidence. Obviously going bespoke is the ideal way of achieving this. But for the sake of time, you may need to find a great off the rack ‘tailored fit’ suit at your local J.Crew or Banana Republic (update: or Suitsupply). Grey is the ideal suit color for the occasion. But avoid bold patterns that distract, such as pin stripes, bold plaids and window panes. A subtle plaid or chalk stripe is a more appropriate way to express that new found confidence without overdoing it (see Tip 1).
2. The shoes- There is probably nothing that will deflate a promising first impression faster than having a scuffed up pair of shoes anchoring a beautiful suit. It’s the equivalent of SPIT defacing Ramo’s tags in the iconic hip-hop movie 'Beat Street'. You deserve a beat down. So instead of finding yourself on the wrong end of the fists of fed-up businessmen and attorneys in the elevator of the Comcast Center, why not just purchase a fresh pair of chocolate brown cap toes to go along with that grey suit and avoid the police report (see Tip 2).
3. The Smile- One author wrote “A smile is a powerful weapon; you can even break ice with it.” I once interviewed for a position where the first thing the interviewer said (after introducing herself) was “you have a smile like Magic Johnson”. What a way to set a positive tone for that occasion. Smiling can do this like no other single action can. And coupling this with a solid handshake is like an Ivan and Nakita Koloff tag team move. Make sure your smile is genuine and your handshake is firm and confident. If unsure, practice with a friend prior to interview.
The 30 Minutes. The average interview probably takes about hour. And if you screwed up ‘the 3 seconds’ you’ll spend half of it trying to dispel their thoughts of you being a schmuck (yes that and more was all communicated in 3 seconds). So why not spend ‘the 30 minutes’ reinforcing all the hard work you put in up until now? To do this successfully, focus on the following:
1. Communication- Although you’ve made it through ‘the 3 seconds’ with flying colors your communication skills from here on out works to affirm whatever positive conclusions the interviewer has ascertained thus far. Therefore, posture, body language and eye contact become even more critical. Sit up straight in your seat. You have a brand new suit on bro, make it look good. This shows off your confidence while respectfully remaining attentive to whatever questions they might ask. Good eye contact is vital as well. Even though it might not have anything to do with your job duties, it will indicate your ability to interact with others in the firm as well as give them a picture of what you might be capable of in the future*.
2. Articulation- If the interviewer has done their job he has already prepared well for your visit. And more than likely that means he has thoroughly reviewed your cover letter and resume (and can’t wait to ask you how you scaled that sinkhole with your bare hands). So be prepared to coherently answer any questions he might have. If you think it necessary, prepare an answer or two based on what you think might be asked. Whether you decide to do this or not, take your time and get your thoughts together before speaking. And don’t be afraid to tell him you were not prepared to answer a specific question or don’t have experience at a specific skill. Your honesty will be appreciated. And if you follow it up with a “but I’m willing to learn” you will have brilliantly given them a glimpse of your unyielding work ethic.
3. Questions- It’s inevitable that at the conclusion of the interview these words will be uttered “Do you have any questions?” Have something better to say than “Nope.” One of the best tidbits of advice that I've received over the years was to always have some questions prepared to ask the person(s) interviewing you. So with the research you have already done on the firm, and possibly some knowledge you've garnered on the person(s) conducting interview, you can show your interest level in the firm and communicate your being equally concerned with creating a mutually beneficial relationship**.
Now all the above tips and advice are predicated on one thing: your confidence level; which should be at an all time high since you look like Ryan Seacrest’s little brother. But if you need a further boost to your well dressed ego; they called you. So they obviously already have a positive read about you and your abilities. So relax, be your best self, and nail this interview!
Tip 1: The tie is an accessory unmatched in its power to pull a suit together. When choosing a tie for your suit, avoid the color red. This color tie is commonly known as a power tie. So unless you’re interviewing for an executive position you may want to go with something a little more subtle. Instead, maybe go with a patterned tie in the same color palette as your suit. Against a plain white shirt, this will read stylish and tasteful all at the same time. Update: For ideas on putting great interview attire together see TSBMen's Style Guide.
Tip 2: If you want to save a little celery on your shoe dilemma, why not get your old dogs refurbished? With a fresh shine and new sole those old dogs can be revitalized for less than $50. Make sure you tip the boy for potentially saving your life!
Tip 3: I think this should go without saying, but for some reason I have a feeling some of you might show up to your interview thinking that your 8 o’clock shadow makes you look sexy- uh...no. Aside from brushing your teeth, washing your face and cleaning your ears (did I really need to mention these), get a haircut, shave, trim your ear and nose hair, and remove the uni-brow. Trust me you want your interviewer(s) focused on shaking your hand when you walk into the conference room versus wishing they had a q-tip.
* For ideas on improving your eye contact, go here.
** For help in determining some relevant questions, check this out.