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How to Nail the Interview in Person

by Lisa McQuerrey, studioD

You finally got the call -- you made the first round of phone interview cuts and the employer is eager to meet you in person. Now's the time to pull out all stops and set yourself apart from the crowd as the candidate to beat. Dress to impress, break out the charm and get prepared to wow interviewers with your preparation and personality.

Know the Company

Learn everything you can about the company, inside and out. Familiarize yourself with company's executives and its products and services, and get a feel for its overall mission and objectives. Look through news archives for stories about the company and search the corporate website to learn about its history and origins. Show up to your in-person interview prepared and knowledgeable about every aspect of the organization -- it will help you make a stellar impression.

Arrive Early

Get to your interview 15 minutes early and talk to the receptionist in a professional, yet friendly way. This is your first in-person contact with the company, and you can be sure the first impression you make on support staff will be relayed to the hiring manager. Make small talk, ask about her day and say something like, “This seems like a great place. Do you enjoy working here?” Not only will you make a good impression, you might learn a few inside tidbits to take into your interview.

Dress Immaculately

Put your best foot forward in clean, well-pressed business attire and look impeccably neat and groomed from head to toe. Men can impress in a traditional business suit or dress slacks, button-down shirt, tie and loafers. A woman should opt for a business suit, pantsuit, tailored dress or slacks and blouse. Don't apply too many cosmetics or fragrances or wear distracting jewelry, and avoid inappropriately tight or revealing clothing.

Turn on the Charm

Smile and be personable from the moment you enter the interview room. Extend your hand in greeting and show your enthusiasm for the interview opportunity. Engage the interviewers immediately to make a solid impression and relax yourself for the interview. If more than one person is in the room, acknowledge each individual.

Start Out Right

Most interviews start with an invitation to talk about yourself and your professional credentials. Know in advance what you plan to say, highlighting key achievements that demonstrate the value you bring to the companies you have worked for. Be gracious in sharing credit for group projects and talk in positive terms about previous employers. This will position you as a loyal team player who will make a good addition to the staff.

Be Positive

Put a positive spin on every aspect of the interview. When asked for descriptions of your previous work, highlight successes and the things you enjoyed about each opportunity. If you're asked to describe challenges or contentious situations, portray them as valuable professional learning experiences.

Say Thank You

As the interview winds to a close, reiterate your sincere interest in the position and express your appreciation for the interview opportunity. Ask when a decision will be made and make a note to yourself to contact the company if you don't hear anything by the given date. Be cordial to the receptionist on the way out and quickly follow up with a written letter of thanks.

About the Author

Lisa McQuerrey has been a business writer since 1987. In 1994, she launched a full-service marketing and communications firm. McQuerrey's work has garnered awards from the U.S. Small Business Administration, the International Association of Business Communicators and the Associated Press. She is also the author of several nonfiction trade publications, and, in 2012, had her first young-adult novel published by Glass Page Books.

Photo Credits

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