Ok, so you’ve secured the live interview for a position you desire.  From here it’s all up to you to show that you are the answer for the hiring manager.  The face to face interview will make or break you every time.  Here are 7 Best Practices both before and during the live interview that should clearly put a distance between you and the other candidates.  This is not rocket science and you may have heard many of these tips before, but it a majority of candidates are eliminated because of the live interview.

Before The Interview

1)  Preparation (and more preparation)

Research the person and the opportunity for which you are interviewing.  While researching, create a list of questions to ask during the interview or when prompted to ask.  Practice your “story” in the mirror or on video.  You should be able to clearly articulate who you are, what brings you to the interview and where you see yourself in the future.

2)  Clear Understanding the Job Specifications

I know this seems intuitive, but many candidates are so focused on winning the position they sometimes forget what they’re winning.  Your experience should clearly map to the job requirements and optional specs for the position.  Likely, you wouldn’t be invited to an interview if you didn’t meet at least the minimum requirements for the position, but know well the “needs” of the position and show how you have excelled in those areas.

3)  Set Yourself Up For Success

With each of us trying to squeeze every ounce of productivity out of ourselves, resist the urge to “wing it”.  Get a good night’s sleep prior to the interview.  This reduces stress and get your brain rested.  Eat a really good breakfast, even if you have an early interview.  This along with a rested body will help you think more clearly and feel more confident.  Lay out what you will wear the night before.  This will take at least one decision away from the morning of the interview so you can focus on other important details.  Avoid stressful events/decisions the day of your interview.  The “Old Rule” still exists here in that you must look sharp to be considered.  Details matter here a great deal.

At The Interview

4)  Early Arrival

This should be obvious, but you’d be surprised how many rushed candidates I’ve seen in my experience.  Check the driving route well ahead of time.  You should get an estimate at the same time as you will be driving on the day of your interview.  Once you have the estimated time, add at least 30 minutes for good measure.  This will allow you time to settle down and relieve any stress from driving and will let you practice your “story” even more.  Arriving early also allows you to observe the environment you likely will be working in (that is if  you will be working in the interview location).  Never ever no-show for an interview!  This can have lasting consequences on you as a candidate and potentially your recruiter or other person who recommended you for the position.  It’s not just about you!

5)  Be Confident, But Not “Cocky”

Introduce yourself to everyone you can who works at the prospective employer (they may play a part in recommending you for the position if they like you).  Firm handshake, people (yes, this still applies).  Make good eye contact at all times whether listening or talking.  Listen, Listen, Listen!  Active listening is a discipline.  You should not be thinking of your next point while waiting for the opportunity to jump in.  Avoid words like “um” and “like” as these are pauses that hint to a lack of preparedness and/or a lack of confidence.  Better to just say nothing at all.  You can create a positive perception that you choose your words carefully if you pause before talking.

6)  Ask Questions

You should ask questions in an interview.  It is a red flag if you don’t have any questions!  You should make sure to ask questions such as “Can you describe the company culture?”, “What is the Mission/Vision of the company?”, “What are the success metrics and how will I be evaluated against those metrics?”, “Describe your ideal candidate” (if you don’t already know this).  Lastly, don’t ever leave an interview without knowing the next step in the process.  You may need to ask the question to find out.  Once you know the next step, close for the commitment to move forward, that is if you don’t get it automatically.

7)  Leave a Positive Impression

Leave a “Thank You” note that you’ve prepared ahead of time with the person interviewing you.  Get the interviewers business card and/or contact information so you can follow up with them.  Follow up is huge!  It can cost you the position if you don’t.

If you’ve followed these 7 steps, and you are clearly qualified for the position, you have put yourself in the ideal position to be one of the final candidates, if not the one who is offered the position.  During the live interview, you will be evaluated more on the “experience” of  you (the person) rather than the content of your resume.  Interviewing is a carefully choreographed exercise that takes preparation and deliberation.  If you’ve been offered the position immediately at the interview, it is perfectly fine to ask for a day to consider the offer.  In fact, it could help you become an even more desirable candidate.  Taking time to carefully consider important decisions is an admirable quality, especially to prospective employers.

I wish you well in your next interview and please don’t hesitate to comment if you’ve tried these steps and provide your feedback.  All the best!