Candidates’ experience and credentials, as detailed in the resume, are most often the frequently used criteria for determining which job applicants deserve a personal interview. Ultimately, however, the hiring decision is largely based on the candidates’ performance in the interview and their value to the organization. To impress an interviewer, you must be able to distinguish yourself from other candidates and be prepared to 'sell' your qualifications to the interviewer. How can you do that?
• Present a polished professional image
Remember that a professional companies are looking to hire professional individuals, not the beach bum who just shook the loose sand from his hair. Dress conservatively in a well-fitting suit and keep jewelry, makeup and fragrances to a minimum. It is also important to always take a shower, brush your teeth and comb your hair before an interview and present a clean, polished image.
• Spend time to research the organization before the interview
Making external research on your own time to prepare for the interview demonstrates your commitment to hard work and your sincere interest in the organization. Study the company's products and services, industry, target market, annual turnover, structure and any other important information. Managers will be impressed by your research.
• Prepare specific examples of how your skills and experience make you a strong fit for the needs of the organization
Practice answering tough, directed questions about your experience and be prepared to draw colorations between your experience and that needs of the organization.
For example, if the position requires strong analytical skills, you should have example ready to demonstrate your distinctive analytical skills. Have you faced any challenges that forced you to think quickly on your feet? How do you go about evaluate alternatives when you have to justify a decision on a project?
• Prepare and ask intelligent questions about the company and position
Your research on the organization will also be very useful when the time comes to formulate a series of intelligent questions that you want to have answered. Because the interview process is an assessment tool for both the individual and the organization, it is in your best interest to collect as much information about the potential opportunity as possible.
Asking well thought-out questions shows that you are serious about the opportunity at hand and indicates the level of your knowledge about the company to the interviewer.
• Pay attention to your body language
You want to exude self-confidence and poise during an interview. Maintain eye contact, smile pleasantly, and keep your body attentive but relaxed throughout the meeting. Avoid fidgeting, clearing your throat, and breaking eye contacts as these are all signs of an anxious person.
• Conclude the meeting by thanking the interviewer for his time and shaking his hand
End the interview on a strong positive note by thanking and acknowledging the time the interviewer spent meeting with you. It is important that the interviewer know that you value his time - after all, he could just have easily been doing something else.
• Write a quick “Thank You” message to the individual(s) who interviewed you
It takes only a few minutes to write a note of "Thank You" to an interviewer, but the gesture speaks volumes about their professionalism and the importance you attach to good customer service. If you treat the interviewer with gratitude and respect, you are likely to treat your co-workers and customers equally well.