Published On : February 14, 2010
Overcome first interview obstacles and prove you are the best candidate by avoiding these first interview pitfalls
Proper preparation is essential at every phase of the application process, but it's particularly crucial during the first interview. You've already created a great resume and cover letter, and perhaps successfully completed a phone interview; your first face-to-face interview is the time to really let your personality and charisma shine through and prove that you are the best candidate for the job.
With a little bit of help from our list of crucial first interview dos and don'ts, you are prepared to show why the recruiter would be foolish to pass you by.
1. Do In-Depth Research on the Company
Before you applied, you may have gotten a basic overview of what the company does, its main client base and what its ultimate goals. Now is the time to dig a little deeper and find the things that make you more relevant for the position. Some tips are:
•Know what type of first interview you will face — are they likely to ask traditional questions or behavioral questions?
•Learn more about the interviewer — do you have mutual acquaintances or hobbies that may allow you to develop a relationship quickly?
•Understand the company's culture and mission statement, and how you fit in with both.
2. Do Focus on Common Courtesy
Being courteous means arriving at least 10 minutes early, dressed appropriately, with all the materials you need for the interview. Show respect and courtesy to everyone you come into contact with — from the receptionist to the person doing the interviewing.
3. Do Review Your Resume and Bring Extra Copies
Thoroughly review your resume for any mistakes or problems that you are unaware of before the interview. Pass it to a friend for a thorough copy edit; sometimes it's difficult to see your own mistakes. Bring extra copies to the interview in case you speak to others that have not yet seen your resume.
4. Do Make Eye Contact and Show Positivity and Enthusiasm
Are you excited about the job? If so, now is the time to show it! Make eye contact during the interview, and be enthusiastic and excited about the job. Show them that this position is more than a job to you — it's a valuable stepping stone in your career.
5. Do Prepare Past Projects and Work Samples
If you are asked for examples of times when you were able to complete a project or improve a process, come prepared with several examples of how you've done so in the past. You may have a work portfolio, or you may just have specific examples in your mind about times you've improved the company or your department.
6. Don't Discuss Personal or Family Problems
You'll have a chance to develop interpersonal relationships once you've landed the job, but the first interview is not the place to get too cozy. Keep the discussions focused on work-related topics and stay professional throughout the interview.
7. Don't Be Greedy
The time to discuss salary and benefits is after you've received a job offer, not during the first interview. Wait until you have a good shot at the job before you delve into questions that may seem greedy and opportunistic.
8. Don't Expect Your Resume to do the Work
Your resume is a good general overview of the work you've done and the skills you possess but it won't do all the selling for you during the first interview. Prepare concrete, relevant examples of how you've used the relevant skills on your resume and how those skills can be used as an asset to the company.
9. Don't Show Desperation
Even if you are dying to get the job, don't show it to the interviewer. Avoid being overly aggressive, and show confidence without being arrogant or desperate.
10. Don't Discuss Controversial Topics
Your political views and religious beliefs may not match those of the interviewer, but these topics have no place in a first interview. Don't bring up controversial topics during a first interview, unless they have direct relevance to the role and can be discussed without being offensive.
11. Don't Bash Former Employers or Colleagues
Even if you were treated unfairly or fired for something you don't believe was right, this isn't the time to complain about past colleagues or employers. Those feelings should be kept out of the first interview, no matter how tempting it is to address them.
By using this comprehensive list of first interview dos and don'ts, you are more prepared to start practicing for your first interview.