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This is especially disturbing considering that the majority of positions for which I am interviewing are for client-facing roles. Therefore I would like to make some suggestions for how to make your interviews successful. Some of these I've learned the hard way myself. Some are things that seem inherent, but it's good to be reminded of them. While these apply to all industries, my particular focus is around agency and account service positions.
Prior to the interview:
Proofread your resume. If there is a typo in it, it will be thrown away (or at least it should be).
Write a cover letter. In this day and age of emailing resumes, it is far too easy to skip this important step. Many times, I am sold on interviewing someone based solely on her cover letter. That way, I don't have to 'work' at finding the information I need in her resume. If you don't write a cover letter, it indicates that you are not taking the opportunity seriously enough to devote time to it.
Research the company. Find out as much about the company as possible. It is much easier in this day and age of the Internet. It doesn't take long, and the payoff of showing your interest is more than worth the little time it takes.
Develop a list of questions. Most interviewers will wrap up by asking you if you have any questions for them. Make sure you have some prepared. Think of them before you arrive at the interview. Whatever you do, do not say you do not have any questions -- it appears very apathetic.
Dress appropriately. It is better to be overdressed than underdressed for an interview. Do not wear anything clothes-wise or jewelry-wise that might be overwhelming and/or distracting to your interviewer.
During the interview:
Arrive early. If you are going to be late, make sure you have a good excuse, and call ahead to alert the interviewer. Time is money in our business, and chances are, if people are hiring, then they are way too busy to be waiting on you to arrive.
Maintain eye contact. Nothing makes me more crazy than chasing someone's eyes and trying to get them to look at me. This is a turnoff for many people. Practice with someone, and if he says you have an issue maintaining eye contact, be cognizant of it and work on it. Shifty eyes breed distrust even if there is no reason for it.
Do not bounce your leg. Or twist your hair. Or chew on your pen. Or tap your fingers. Or play with a pencil. We all have nervous tics. Find a way to control yours. Please. It's distracting.
Bring copies of your resume. Don't assume we have printed it out. Nice paper makes a good impression.
Disaster management. Coping with 'disaster' is a must-have skill for many agency people. Demonstrate how you were able to ward off a disaster or deal with one effectively. Bosses don't want to have to deal with this - if you can fix it first, then all the better.
Show off. Think about your best assets and come prepared with scenarios you can relate that demonstrate them. Come prepared to discuss how you personally have contributed to the success of projects.
Don't talk too much OR too little. Rambling on and on with no clear direction is boring to an interviewer. Pregnant pauses are painful and awkward. Strike a balance and be engaging.
Be positive. Don't bad-mouth your current or any former employers or jobs. When asked why you are looking to leave or why you left other jobs, be prepared to provide an honest answer that indicates career and/or personal growth objectives for leaving.
After the interview:
Write thank you notes. Email is immediate and acceptable - maybe even preferable these days. Although being a good Southern woman, I still personally appreciate the thought and effort of receiving a handwritten note in the mail in addition to the email thank you. But that might just be me!
Follow up within a couple of days. People are busy, and sometimes hiring is just not their top priority, even though it should be. Don't feel bad if you haven't heard back yet. Check in every 3 or 4 days until you hear something regarding the next steps.
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