How To Land That First “Professional” Job – The Face-to-Face Interview

Prior to “most” face-to-face interviews we will often have participated in “at least” one phone interview with the prospective employer. Regardless, it is important to take the same steps in advance of the face-to-face interview, as we took in preparation for the phone interview. Refer to the prior 2 posts on interviews, for additional details. In summary, this includes:

  • Nailing down the Scheduling and Logistical details
  • Being sure you are comfortable with your responses to the “standard” interview questions
  • Scouring their company website
  • Considering other, more detailed questions, that you may be asked during the face-to-face interview
  • Being ready with the questions you plan to ask them
  • Reviewing the LinkedIn profiles of those who are interviewing you

In addition to doing ALL of the above, there are a few more steps to take in preparation for the face-to-face interview, including:

  • Making sure you have a few more hard-copy resumes on-hand than the number of people you are meeting with.
  • Making sure your laptop is fully charged and loaded with your content (if you plan on sharing examples of your work – a portfolio, for example). If your laptop doesn’t take a standard serial connection, for the projector, bring your adapter.
  • Having a note book and pen. While you “may” be able to take notes on a smartphone, iPad or laptop, it “could” give the interviewer the impression that you are processing emails and texts. Not good. Within this notebook have your collection of notes and questions, in an organized fashion for quick reference during the interview.
  • Dressing appropriately. In a prior step you determined the “day-to-day” dress code. For the interview you will want to dress 1-2 levels above this. For example, if the day-to-day dress code is:
    • Jeans and t-shirts, come dressed in dress pants, dress shirt and potentially even a tie (for the men, ladies, the equivalent)
    • Business casual, come dressed in full suit and tie

Bottom-line: You only have ONE CHANCE to make a good first impression.

Now, let’s do it!

You have arrived at the prospective employer’s site. At this point, you can expect to meet and interact with a number of people who may take you through severals steps prior to the interview even beginning. I share this so there are fewer surprises, for that “first-time” interviewee…

Here we go…

  1. First, you may meet the main receptionist (unless someone else has already agreed to meet you at a specific location)
    • Walk up to the reception desk and politely share your name and mention that you have a meeting with [insert person’s name here] at [insert time of meeting here].
    • You may be asked to fill out an application for a temporary security badge. Do so – NEATLY!
    • They may ask for your driver’s license to confirm your identity – have it with you / let them see it.
    • They may ask to take your picture for the badge. Smile!
    • You may then be asked to have a seat, while you await the arrival of the person you are meeting with.
    • If you need to use the restroom (after a long commute in) now is the time! Ask the receptionist where the restrooms are.
  2. In the waiting area
    • Your cell phone should now be fully silenced to ensure NO disruptions.
    • Take NO calls, unless you can be absolutely certain it is from the person you are meeting with.
    • Strike-up a conversation with the receptionist (if s/he doesn’t seem “too” busy and there aren’t a lot of people around). Ask questions like: How long have you worked here? How do you like working here? And, other casual but business-related questions you may have.
    • Most importantly, look around the room. Take in EVERYTHING: how people are dressed, any awards on display (read them), framed articles (read them), company magazine/annual report on the table (pick it up and skim through it). All of this serves to build your arsenal of knowledge about the company and/or may generate additional questions you may wish to ask.
    • If you have done ALL of the above and are still waiting, and you feel compelled, it is “ok” to check email, texts, etc. HOWEVER, when the person you are meeting with shows-up, you must IMMEDIATELY pocket the cell phone vs. trying to complete any text, email or etc. Doing anything less is discourteous which equals opportunity lost!
  3. The first “formal” introduction – What I’m about to share applies to EVERY introduction going forward!
    • If sitting, promptly stand up!
    • Be the first to put out your hand, for the handshake…
    • Lean slightly forward
    • Look them squarely in the eye
    • When your hands meet grasp the other’s firmly (not like a vice, just firmly) and shake in a way that they know someone is “in there.”
    • Say: “Hi, I am [insert your full name here]. Pleased to meet you.
    • Too often, the junior person is weighed down with self-consciousness, not feeling worthy to put themselves out there first. They may inadvertently look away and/or put their hand out like a cold, dead, clammy fish. BLECK. Makes me feel like I need to take a shower…
    • This is where you can stand HEAD AND SHOULDERS above the rest. Trust me and just do it! If you are not feeling comfortable, practice, practice, practice with your father, mother, sister, brother, etc.
  4. On your way to the interview area
    • The person who picked you up is now your tour guide. They are going to point stuff out to you on the way to the interview room: listen, take it all in and ask questions. Make conversation…
    • They will likely ask if you’d like anything to drink. Politely request water. You never know how long you are going to be in this process and/or waiting between interview sessions. It is nice to have a refreshment available.
  5. You enter the interview room / office
    • If the interviewer asks you to take a seat anywhere, try to get one that faces the door so you can see people coming. Just be sure NOT to take someone else’s seat.
    • Once you find your seat, sit up straight (no slouching).
    • Again, look around, take it all in. Is anything written on the whiteboard? This can provide clues to the nature of the projects / issues they are working – real-time.
  6. At this point, a number of paths may be taken:
    • S/he may meet with you 1-on-1, and then take you to the next person(s) / room.
    • S/he may have scheduled a number of people to join you in the room, at once. Be not afraid! And, don’t act surprised (I’m telling you this in advance 🙂 ).
    • The interviewers will generally include:
      • The prospective “boss” (the manager or supervisor) who you will “directly” report to
      • The boss’s boss
      • Other people on the team (your potential / future peers)
      • Note: The above people will be generally focused on you, your work habits and job-related technical capabilities.
      • Human Resources will have interview questions of their own (typically, less technical in nature) and will cover benefits offered by the company.
    • Provide a copy of your resume to each person.
    • Some may offer you a business card. Take it. If not, jot down their name as soon as possible (before you forget).
  7. During the interview:
    • Make sure to keep an even balance of looking the interviewer in the eye and glancing away as you give thought to the discussion and/or questions. If there are multiple interviewers in the room, make eye contact with each, frequently, as you are responding to their questions, listening and asking your own questions.
  8. As each interview session completes, you’ll want to:
    • Stand up!
    • Put your hand out first.
    • Grasp their hand firmly, and shake.
    • Say: “It was a pleasure to meet you. Thanks for your time.
  9. It’s a wrap
    • Prior to departing, it is important to ask the hiring manager and/or staff recruiter what the next steps are and the timing for when you could expect to hear back from them.
    • As such, be mindful of when you’ll be meeting with these particular folks so that you can pose the question before it is too late…Because, once all the interviews are complete, you’ll typically be escorted back to the reception area (to handover your temporary badge), and/or out of the building. You don’t want to end-up outside and realize “I have no idea about what is going to happen next, or when.”

Some may say: “Man, you are covering some nauseating detail here.” To that I’d respond: “Do you want to appear as an amateur or professional?” Your choice. The jobs offered and related salary are MUCH different between the two 🙂

As such, don’t go there “simply” to land the job. Make an EXCELLENT impression which will serve to maximize the offer!

Next, we will cover the follow-up.

All the best!

Click here for the next article in this series.

3 thoughts on “How To Land That First “Professional” Job – The Face-to-Face Interview

  1. […] a prior post on “How to land that first professional job – The Face-to-Face Interview” I outlined detailed steps to go through when meeting […]

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