Preparation is the first step toward a successful interview. Why, you ask? Interviewing is a learned skill, and there are no second chances to make a great first impression. Securing an interview provides an opportunity to present concrete examples of how you’ve proven your value in an organization and how your contributions can impact the next potential business you want to work for. 

Follow these do’s and don’ts while preparing for your next interview to ensure you make a lasting impression on your potential employer. 

Working With a Recruiter

If you’ve chosen to apply through an employment agency, your recruiter understands the benefits of interview preparation and will ensure you’re aware of the following components:

■ The exact place and time of the interview.

■ The interviewer’s title, full name and correct pronunciation.

■ Identifying your most marketable skills and attributes.

■ How the opportunity will impact your immediate and long-term career development. Your recruiter can help you determine if an opportunity is in line with your career goals and how to demonstrate the skills you currently possess can contribute to potential employers.

■ How to present yourself in the interview. Your Recruiter will give you insights into the personalities of the decision-makers, guidance in responding to specific questions and suggestions for proper attire.

While the majority of interviews are now taking place virtually, most of the standard procedures remain the same. Be sure to discover our blog topic, 7 Tips to Ace your next Virtual Interview to learn more about best practices to consider when preparing for your next virtual interview. 

Interview Do’s

■ Research the company and learn more about the organization, find out more about their future goals, and how they plan to achieve them. Explore topics such as; annual sales revenue, principal lines of business, affiliations (parent company, outside auditors, etc.), locations, their executive team, competitors, and check their Google reviews to determine their reputation. 

■ Complete all application materials before the interview. 

■ Turn off your mobile device/s.

■ Greet the interviewer by their surname and use their name occasionally during the interview.

■ Smile, convey energy and remain professional while also exhibiting your personality. Your personality tells the employer if you will fit into the corporate culture. 

■ Listen attentively, maintain eye contact by looking at your camera, remain alert and interested at all times.

■ Follow the interviewer’s leads, but try to get them to describe the position and the duties to you early in the interview so that you can apply your background, skills and accomplishments to the job.

■ Ensure that your strong points come across to the interviewer in a factual, sincere manner. Stress your accomplishments, for example, sales records, processes developed, cost savings, systems implemented, etc.

■ Call your Recruiter with feedback as soon as possible. Decisiveness is critical in the interview process. If you are interested in the opportunity, enthusiastic feedback can enhance your chances of being considered further. If you are not interested, your responsiveness will still demonstrate your professionalism.

■ Stay calm. Remaining calm before and during an interview allows you to listen better and stay focused on providing the best response to the questions. In addition, you can think clearly about how you can present your accomplishments in alignment with what is important to the interviewer. Being calm also demonstrates your ability to deal with stressful situations.

Interview Don’ts

■ Answer with a simple “yes” or “no.” Provide details whenever possible and describe honest successes you’ve achieved that relate to the situation. 

■ Make derogatory remarks about your former or present employers. When explaining your reasons for leaving, limit your comments to those necessary to adequately communicate your rationale.

■ Over-answer questions. If the interviewer steers the conversation into politics or controversial subjects, try to do more listening than speaking since this could be a sensitive situation.

■ Inquire about salary, holiday, bonuses, pensions, etc in the initial interview. If the interviewer asks about salary expectations, provide a range based on your knowledge of the skills and experience required of the position. Your Recruiter can offer guidance or conduct your own research. We have the most up-to-date and accurate information about current salaries and compensation trends for 2021 in the following industries; Legal Services, Accounting, Finance and Payroll, Corporate Services, Technology, and Construction. 

■ Rely on your application or resume to do the selling for you. Hiring Managers will want you to speak for yourself. Don’t look down at your resume or make notes for the interview, as you don’t want to be reading off a piece of paper, and the conversation needs to be authentic as possible. 

■ Check your voicemail, email, or social media accounts. You may hear or read something that could change your mood. It will distract you and preoccupy your mind, which could ruin your chances of getting the job.

■ Rehearsing your answers, you don’t want to use this time to over-prepare or rehearse responses, which can make your conversation seem scripted and not authentic. You want to know your stuff, but remember your interview is a conversation. Trust that you know what you know, and that the interview will take on a flow of its own. 

Negative Factors Evaluated by an Interviewer

During the interview, the employer will be evaluating your positive as well as attributes. Listed below are factors frequently considered during the interview and those which most often lead to rejection of the applicant.

■ Poor grooming or inappropriate attire

■ Overbearing or egotistical behaviour

■ Lack of planning for a career; no purpose or goals

■ Lack of interest; passive and indifferent attitude

■ Lack of confidence and poise

■ Overemphasis on compensation as the deciding factor

■ Evasive; making excuses for unfavourable events in work history

■ Lack of tact, maturity and courtesy

■ Derogatory remarks about past employers

■ Failure to ask questions about the job

■ Persistent attitude of “what can you do for me?”

■ Lack of preparation for the interview; failure to retrieve information about the company, resulting in the inability to ask relevant questions.

Closing the Interview

The Hiring Manager will typically conclude the interview by asking if you have any questions. This is the time to probe and discover if this is the right position for you. Coming prepared with a list of 3-5 insightful questions demonstrates your professionalism and commitment. Below are a set of questions to ask at the end of your interview to help you learn more about the position and the company:

■ Why has this role become available?

■ What are the staff retention rates?

■ What career development and training opportunities are available?

■ What is the company culture like?

■ What would my first assignment or project be?

■ Ask the interviewer specific questions about their job and why they enjoy working in the company.

By the end of your interview, you should better understand the position, the tasks you’ll perform, and the company. If you remain interested in the opportunity, ensure to ask about the second interview and when you can expect to hear from them. If you feel the job is attractive and you want an offer, you could say something like: “I’m very impressed with what I’ve seen here today – your company, its products/services and the people I’ve met. I am confident I could do an excellent job in the position you’ve described to me.” By making this comment, you’re showing the interviewer your enthusiasm for the position. 

Finally, thank the interviewer for their time and consideration. Send a thank-you email to the employer immediately following the interview, ensure to express your interest in the position and restate briefly how you can make a solid contribution to the company.

Shannon Maloney

Author Shannon Maloney

Having worked as a Director for a multi-national staffing firm specializing in administrative and executive support, coupled with her Human Resource Diploma with honours achieved through Humber College, Shannon has gained an appreciation and desire to assist clients and candidates at every stage of the hiring and career management process.

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