Not EVERY SINGLE TIP will apply to EVERY SINGLE PERSON…
…some of you may have had different experiences.
1) Dress Appropriately
You wouldn’t wear the same outfit to an interview with a law firm as you would with an Internet startup where sweatpants are standard attire. A good rule of thumb is to dress one “step” nicer than is standard at the company you’re interviewing with. So wear a conservative dark gray or black suit to your interview with a bank; slacks and a blouse (and a sweater depending on the season) to a company with more laid back standards.
2) Jewelry, Nails, Hair – Keep It Conservative
Whether you’re interviewer is a man or a woman, you want them to focus on what you’re saying, not any particular aspect of your appearance.
For your nails, either clear, white or French manicure.
The ideal hairstyle will depend a lot on your hair type, but lean more toward how you should look for church than how you’d look for a night out partying.
Keep jewelry to a minimum, nothing flashy.
Don’t wear perfumes or any other fragrances.
3) Cover Any Visible Tattoos
Obviously this applies only if you have visible tattoos. Wear clothes, or a hairstyle that covers them as much as possible. This isn’t a judgement on tattoos or people who get them – it’s just an established fact that employers are less likely to hire someone with visible tattoos (especially in a conservative company) and they are typically offered lower starting salaries than people without them.
4) Clean Up Your Social Media Accounts
You can be sure any company considering hiring you will do as much research on you as you will on them and this includes looking through your social media accounts. If you don’t want to go in and delete all those Spring Break pictures or the R-rated comments you’ve made on people’s Instagram posts, at least make your profiles private. It’s very easy to find online how to change your Facebook privacy settings so that anyone you’re not friends with on Facebook can see a minimal amount of information. You can also set your Instagram account to “Invite Only” to prevent employers from perusing your feed.
5) Research The Company
This is good advice regardless of whether you’re a man or woman. Know as much about the company before you go in. Visit the company’s website; Google the company and find out as much as you can about them, their executives, their competitors and the person who’ll be interviewing you.
6) Know How Successful Other Women Are At The Company
Visit Glassdoor.com and see what former female employees have to say about the company. Check out their top executives – how many are women? Google the company and see if any red flags show up regarding their treatment of women. If anything glaring shows up – they have no women in executive positions – you can subtly bring this up at your interview.
7) Be Prepared For The Most Common Questions
Some interview questions are asked so often, and the answers so rehearsed, that you think employers would have stopped asking them by now. But some of these questions are bound to be asked so be prepared with the right answers. What are your strengths and weaknesses? Where do you see yourself in five years? What is it about this particular company that makes you want to work here? Don’t pre-rehearse word for word answers to these questions – you don’t want to sound like you’re reading a script – but do know the ideas you want to convey.
8) Ask The Right Questions
The questions you ask your interviewer are as important as the answers you give to their questions. They should reflect your desire to be a valuable asset to the company, show that you’ll fit in with their culture and that you’re committed to success. A great piece of advice is to ask the interviewer about their experiences at the company (everyone loves to talk about themselves). What do they enjoy most about working there? What was their path to their current position?
9) Find Things In Common With Your Interviewer
There’s an old saying that the best college to have attended is the same one as the person who’s interviewing you. Creating a personal bond with your interviewer (but not too personal!) is always a plus. If you see in their office a photo of them in Hawaii, and you were there recently, don’t be afraid to bring it up (always in a positive way). Same goes for sports, hobbies and other common interests.
10) Don’t Discuss Special Needs on the First Interview
Just found out you’re pregnant? Congratulations. But keep it to yourself for now – it’ll certainly hurt your chances if your interviewer knows you’ll be going on maternity leave in six months. Are you a single mom who may need extra time and flexibility to take care of your kids? There’s a time and place to address that, but it’s not on the first interview. Your focus should be on what you can do for the company, not what they’ll be willing to do for you.
11) Show Up Early
This may seem obvious, but nothing makes a worst first impression than showing up late.
Make sure you know the exact route you’ll be taking if driving, the bus or train schedule if taking public transportation and whether there are any expected delays along the way.
Aim to arrive up to 30 minutes ahead of time. This may seem extreme, but it leaves you plenty of cushion should things not go as planned, and you’ll arrive much more relaxed.
12) Avoid These Common Mistakes
There are some things you should always avoid at an interview, particularly a First interview:
- Don’t reveal too many personal details about yourself – this is supposed to be about your experience and competence;
- Don’t bring up anything related to politics or religion;
- Don’t bad-mouth former employers;
- Don’t ask about things like vacation time, maternity leave or other topics that focus on your time away from work;
- Don’t raise the topic of compensation on the first interview.
- Do make sure your cell-phone is turned OFF/Silenced or at least on ‘vibrate’!