Employer Advice Spotlight: Sometimes Overlooked Interview Items

By Joshua Pringle

Joshua Pringle is the Director of Marketing at CO2Meter, a leader in Carbon Dioxide metering, sensing, and detection.  CO2Meter designs, manufactures and distributes industry leading devices to consumers and companies in diverse business segments.  Mr. Pringle has put together a series of articles providing advice, from a company’s perspective, on interviewing.  The series will be added throughout the spring semester. 

78dc1fd7-7a8f-4b20-b084-8789c91af08dMost of what you read or hear about interviewing is about preparation, questions and speaking to your skills.  These items are 80-90% of the interviews success.  But the other 10-20% is often overlooked mostly because they are considered “soft skills” that most people are either not aware of or that make them uncomfortable.  Think of “cold calling”.  Most people think “telemarketer” and are repulsed by the idea of cold calling.  But those in business know it is a skill that is essential to the success of almost every organization.

Here are a few of the overlooked items that are important to your interviewing success.

1)      Take a look on the internet and study your interviewer(s).  LinkedIn is a great tool for this.  Best case scenario – you have a common connection that can recommend you.  Worst case scenario – you know the interviewers work history and where they went to college.  Knowing that they went to ERAU or MIT will make for an easier icebreaker than “wow, it’s hot out there.”

2)      Call or email the day before to confirm your appointment, the time, and location.  Confirming says to the interviewer that you are thorough and interested.  It also ensures that you are at the correct location on time.

3)      Be on time.

4)      Think about getting business cards for yourself.  Check out Vista Print.  Good cards will cost you $25-$30 and your University may have printing services too.  A card says you have planned and are serious.  It also ensures that you can exchange contact information with your interviewer.

5)      Get your interviewer’s card so you have all their contact information.  There is actually business etiquette to exchanging business cards.  Review it.

6)      Make eye contact.  Interviewers are turned off by people who don’t make eye contact.

7)      Bring a copy of your resume and any relevant work examples (see the Seven P’s).

8)      Ask the great questions you’ve prepared in advance.

9)      Please take a few minutes and ensure that you have a great business handshake.  Practice on friends and family.  “The Cold Fish” or “Grandmotherly” handshake is a kiss of death for your interview.

10)   Smile.  Research done in 2012 by professors at the University of Kansas has proven that smiling releases your AND others’ tension.

Most importantly you must write either a hand-written thank you note or an email within 24 hours of the interview.  This is an absolute.  No questions asked.  I can guarantee you that a spectacular interview gets knocked down several notches if the interviewer doesn’t receive a thank you note.

Your thank you is your opportunity to show gratitude for the interview opportunity, for you to rectify any issues the interviewer saw in your candidacy, and for you to reinforce your qualifications.  Not sending the thank you note screams unprofessional, rude, and a bad fit.

I actually suggest two thank you’s.  The first is electronic sent within 12 hours of your interview, a quick thank you that informs your interviewer you are sending a hand-written note.  The second is the hand-written note that is your main follow up tool.

Conventional wisdom is that hand-written notes are out of date and old news.  Business professionals know that hand-written notes leave lasting impressions of professionalism, class, and respect.  I have cemented dozens of business relationships simply by sending a hand-written thank you note.

Be prepared.  Have great questions to ask.  Be ready to address your skills.  Also, consider some of these areas that are often overlooked.  As a reminder, be classy and respected, not old news.

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