Over the last 22 years I have done countless interviews. I have seen some well-prepared candidates, and others that made some critical errors. How you interview can make or break your chances of getting your dream job.
Send the Right Message
Before sending out resumes make sure to “clean up” your voice mail message. From the first call the employer is starting to learn about you. There have been voice mail messages that were so bad I hung up and did not proceed with scheduling the interview.
When scheduling your interview, make note of who you will be interviewing with as well as who called. You will want to address people by name during the interview, as well as keep track of who to send “thank you” notes to afterwards.
Take the time prior to the interview to learn as much as you can about the company and the position. When candidates arrive with little to no knowledge about the role it’s a missed opportunity to impress the interviewer with your preparation. This is a great time to compliment the reputation of the brand. Make sure to know the typical patient population seen in the clinic, the company mission, and what they need from the position they are trying to fill. This includes understanding the skills, personal and professional qualities and knowledge that will be required to be successful in the position.
Dress to Impress
As much as we hope to be hired for our talent, your choice of clothing can derail your chances before you say one word. What you chose to wear says a lot about your judgement. I once had a physical therapist assistant arrive in pajama pants for the interview. It was quite difficult to look past this. It is never appropriate to wear sandals, tank tops, sweat shirts, jeans, shorts, flip flops and t-shirts. Even if the interview is conducted in a casual setting chose an outfit that is professional and shows you take your job seriously. Be aware of necklines, hemlines, and how tight your clothing fits. Anything that is short, low-cut or tight should be left at home.
Arrive on Time and Ready
Arrive ten to fifteen minutes early. Anything later than this is late. Anything earlier than this is considered intrusive to the business. Bring a copy of your resume and references with you. Turn off your cell phone, or do not bring it with you. Do not wear an Apple watch. Many people do not realize how distracting the watch can be, and unconsciously look at it any time it receives a message, etc. I have interviewed a few people who have looked at their watch several times. It sends a message that they aren’t concentrating on what is being said and distracts them from what they are saying.
Listen and Ask Questions
This sounds obvious at first, but many candidates become nervous and don’t really listen to what is being said. Others don’t have any questions, which sends the message that they aren’t that engaged in the conversation. The interview should be a give and take conversation, as well as the start of a relationship with the people who are interviewing you. This is your chance to fully understand the position you are interviewing for, as well as to discuss your qualifications in a way that will impress the interviewer. At this point in time, I find that it is best to avoid discussing salary and benefits. Candidates often jump to this as their first question, and you run the risk of sending the wrong message to the interviewer.
Before You Leave
Before you leave the interview, restate why you think you are a good fit for the position. A high level of engagement and interest can make the difference between landing the job or a rejection letter.
I had a recent PTA position open. We had many candidates come to interview, some with 10 to 20 years experience. The one who stood out most and ultimately received (and accepted) the offer was a new graduate who showed a good combination of excitement and interest in the position. This make her stand out from the crowd to everyone who was involved on the interview team. That level of excitement and interest has made her one of our top employees.
It is also important to find out the next steps in the interview process before your leave. Some facilities will interview over a long period of time, and others will invite candidates back for a second interview. Ask what the best method is for following up. Many managers use email, but some may prefer phone calls.
After the Interview
It is surprising to me that many job seekers do not send thank-you notes after the interview. Doing so can set yourself apart and keep you at the top of the list for a job offer. Take the time to send one to each person you interviewed with and do so within 24 hours. Make sure to mention specific things you discussed during the interview and reiterate why you feel you would be the perfect fit for the position.
Interview can be stressful and intimidating. How well you master this skill can be the difference between landing your dream job or watching others get ahead. Make sure to practice your skills prior to the interview with an honest friend or family member so that you are well prepared and confident when the times comes.