A firm handshake

A firm handshake makes a good first impression.

Understanding how to interview is critical to landing the job you want. Some mistakes can sabotage your chances of getting the job of your dreams, and in today’s competitive market you need to know what they are and how to avoid them.

Be Prompt

One way to ruin your chances before you begin is arriving late. Hiring managers have heard all the excuses, and they don’t believe them. Arriving 20-30 minutes early shows you care enough to be on time. It also gives you a chance to calmly review any notes you have prepared. While you wait your turn, you may have the opportunity to observe staff members interacting, which can show you a lot about the company culture.

Look the Part

Research the company mission, vision, and culture. What are their core values? What is their image? Are they conservative? Casual? Hard to tell? When in doubt, it’s best to wear a suit and tie. Even if you discover later that the majority of staffers dress in business casual attire, it’s always better to dress up. This shows you took the opportunity to interview seriously, and cared enough to put your best foot forward.

Be Prepared

There are common questions interviewers ask, so be prepared with solid answers. When asked “What are your strengths?” don’t drone on for 20 minutes reciting every task you’ve ever accomplished. Choose one core strength such as “flexibility” and give a brief, concise answer; “I can focus on the task at hand, but also find I am able to shift gears midstream when necessary”. Then sit back, smile, and stop talking.

Be Yourself

Don’t be overly concerned with perfection. Do your best to relax, and if asked whether you can do something you’ve never done before, don’t bluff. Answer honestly, but be positive. Saying “I’ve never had the opportunity to do that, but I’d love the chance to learn that skill, especially if it makes me more of an asset to the company,” shows honesty as well as confidence.

Eliminate Distractions

When interviewing, you must be free to focus on what you’re doing. Imagine being in the middle of discussing a key element – like salary – when your stomach growls or your cell phone buzzes. Take care of the essentials before you arrive; eat, use the restroom, and for goodness sake put your cell phone on silent! Better yet, turn it off. Nothing should be more important than acing your interview.

Michael Klein is a premier writer and speaker on all aspects of human capital. As VP Operations for KDS Staffing, Inc., he has achieved industry-leading success. Michael was awarded, The New York State Small Business Growth Award; presented by Governor George Pataki. Additionally, Michael has successfully grown and sold multiple firms. If you or your organization would like to discuss hiring needs, contact Michael at 646-350-3015 or michael@kdsstaffing.com.