Interview Prep: Putting Your Best Foot Forward
In part six of our interview series, we provide tips on appropriate dress, body language, behavior to demonstrate and behavior to avoid.
One of the best ways to separate yourself from your competition is to be prepared! It is absolutely amazing how many people go to a job interview hopeful to get an offer, but do little or nothing to actually prepare for the meeting. Why show up for a job interview with little or no knowledge about the industry, company or job to which you aspire? Kinsa believes it’s an absolute necessity to adequately prepare yourself in order to convey the best possible impression and land your ideal job.
Your sense of happiness and self-fulfillment in life has a direct correlation to the quality of your job. In fact, one of the primary reasons people look for a new position is because they are disgruntled with their current job and are hoping to find greener pastures in a different corporate environment. As a candidate for hire, you have two objectives:
- ensure that you find a stimulating, rewarding position in a company where you will enjoy working and
- receive a job offer.
We hope that we have identified the ideal position and environment for you, but during the interview process, you need to make sure this is truly the case.
You must have a reasonable depth of knowledge about the company’s history, products/services, markets, growth potential and financial performance. Lack of preparation not only creates doubts in the mind of the interviewer as to your potential work habits, but also your real interest in working for their company. This is certainly not the type of impression you want to leave with the interviewer.
Knowing the strengths and weaknesses that you bring to the table, and demonstrating how these will bring value to their company, is sure to reflect favorably on your candidacy. As a result, candidates who take the time to prepare themselves in advance of an interview always stand out from those who don’t. This means your preparation will almost always be evident to the interviewer, suggesting a number of positive things about your thoroughness, motivation and interest. In fact, here are nine traits interviewers look for when conducting interviews.
LAYOUT WHAT YOU CAN DO
Your resume lists all of your accomplishments, but they’re in the past. What you need to communicate is how you are going to use your past to help this company in the future. After you’ve done your homework about the company, identify ways you can help. Then match at least three ideas with key skills from your experience. Don’t over-promise. But this is not a time to be shy. It’s unlikely that others will recognize your potential if you don’t point it out.
ASK YOURSELF THESE QUESTIONS
Before going to an interview, it is essential that you consider the following types of questions so that you are better prepared to impress the interviewer. Specifically:
- What do I know about the company, its organizational culture (work environment), and the job for which I am applying? What additional information do I need before the interview? Where can I find the information I still need?
- What factors really appeal to me in terms of this particular position and company? What negative factors are of concern at this point in time?
- How relevant is my experience given the knowledge I currently have about the job for which I am interviewing? Which of my specific job skills (core qualifications) seem most relevant for the new position?
- What personal qualities and strengths are likely to be most important to this job? What specific examples from my current position can I cite to show how I have used these qualities and strengths?
DRESS TO IMPRESS
You might hear a few clichés related to your appearance before an interview, including “Dress for success” and “You never get a second chance to make a first impression,” but there is truth to those overused sayings. You could have a stellar resume and background, but if the interviewer’s first impression of you is less than satisfactory, you might not get the job.
It’s best to dress professionally and conservatively. While it’s rare to overdress for an interview, showing up underdressed is common and can be seen as a sign that you don’t care about the job. So, what is appropriate dress for an interview?
- A dark suit for more professional workplaces, or for a more casual office, nice slacks and a long-sleeved button down shirt (even in the summer) with a matching tie and jacket.
- Ties should be of good quality in solids or stripes – character ties should not be worn in interviews.
- Calf-high socks are a must – no leg should show when sitting down.
- Often overlooked are nice, quality, polished dress shoes.
- Bring a portfolio or briefcase to hold copies of your resume, a notebook, pen, etc.
- A dark suit, and if you are wearing a skirt it should be long enough to sit down comfortably.
- A matching blouse that has a solid or small print and conservative neckline
- Limit your jewelry; gaudy or noisy jewelry can be distracting
- As for shoes, avoid stilettos or thick platforms; instead, opt for closed-toe pumps in a neutral color.
- If you’re bringing a purse, keep it small and simple, or a business-like tote bag or briefcase to hold your materials.
- Avoid strong perfumes / cologne
- Silence your mobile phone in the parking lot and NEVER answer it during an interview
- If you have been told you will be going on a plant tour, make sure your shoes are safe and comfortable for walking or bring an appropriate pair with rubber soles along
- Wearing the same suit to a second‑round meeting could signal that your wardrobe isn’t adequate for the job
If you’re still unsure of what to wear for an interview please do not hesitate to call Kinsa Group, but these tips will point you in the right direction!
WATCH YOUR BODY LANGUAGE
It is important to look confident and enthusiastic. Give a firm handshake upon meeting the interviewer. Maintain eye contact, but don’t stare. Display good posture, and don’t forget to smile. Having a pleasant attitude goes a long way. These nonverbal actions show that you are interested in being there.
Knowing how to keep yourself relaxed and appearing calm during an interview is crucial. The best way to do this is to be prepared.
- Enthusiasm: Leave no doubt as to your level of interest in the job. You may think it’s unnecessary to do this, but employers often choose the more enthusiastic candidate in the case of a two-way tie. Besides, it’s best to keep your options open – wouldn’t you rather be in a position to turn down an offer, than have a prospective job evaporate from your grasp by giving a lethargic interview?
- Technical interest: Employers look for people who love what they do; people who get excited by the prospect of tearing into the nitty-gritty of the job.
- Confidence: No one likes a braggart, but the candidate who’s sure of his or her abilities will almost certainly be more favorably received.
- Intensity: The last thing you want to do is come across as “flat” in your interview. There’s nothing inherently wrong with being a laid-back person; but sleepwalkers rarely get hired.
GENERAL INTERVIEWING RULES
- Arrive early.
- Bring extra resumes, notepad, and pen.
- Be sure you know how to pronounce your interviewer’s name correctly.
- Be polite to everyone you meet there. They all count.
- Be personable as well as professional.
- Do not chew gum, smoke, swear or use slang.
- Assume all questions are asked for a good reason and answer accordingly.
- Do not assume that your interviewer knows how to elicit the information he/she is looking for.
- Feel free to ask for clarification before answering a question.
- Take some time to formulate your answers before you speak.
- Answer all questions honestly, but in the best, most positive light.
- Do not bad mouth old employers.
AVOID THESE MISTAKES
- Arrive late for the interview.
- Indicate you are late because the directions you were given were not good.
- Look disheveled or inappropriately dressed.
- Slouch in your seat.
- Don’t maintain good eye contact with the interviewer.
- Do your research at the interview by asking, “What do you guys do here?”
- Don’t make a connection between your skills and the needs of the employer.
- Brag about how great you are, but neglect to cite evidence of your accomplishments.
- Respond in an unfocused, disorganized, and rambling manner.
- Remain low-key and display no enthusiasm for the job.
- Answer most questions with simple “yes” and “no” answers.
- Appear desperate for a job – any job.
- Bad-mouth your current or former employer.
- Blurt out, “I need to make at least $XX amount. I hope this job pays at least that much.”
- When asked, “Do you have any questions?” reply “No.”
Have an interview tip to share with your food and beverage industry colleagues? Share it below.