Congratulations! You managed to get an interview with someone in the company. Some companies will conduct phone interviews to start, but ultimately, they’ll want to meet with you in person, so you need to be prepared for either scenario.

The purpose of an interview is two-fold:

  1. For a company to meet with you to determine if you are qualified for the job and to see if you match their “corporate culture”
  2. For you to meet with the company, ask questions, learn more about their business and determine if you want to work for them

By the time you get to a formal “face-to-face” interview, it’s safe to say there is a basic match between you and the company. Your skills and background match the criteria of the position the company is trying to fill. So, what will make the difference?

Your resume may show that you are a perfect match for the position. Or, it could show that while you are not a perfect match, there is something else in your background that the company is interested in learning more about. In either case, preparation for the interview is critical.

Most companies have web sites where you can find valuable information about the company. You should familiarize yourself with the company goals and mission statement. You should find out information about their products and/or services. You should look through their current events or news/press release section to learn more about the company’s latest activities. You should find as much information as you can about the company so you will be able to ask interesting questions and have a relevant discussion about the position during the interview.

Prepare three questions before the meeting to ask during the interview. These questions should NOT revolve around salary, vacation or benefits. Worry about getting the job first and negotiating those items later. Get the company interested in you, and determine your level of interest in the company before discussing such matters. If you press them about salary and benefits early in the interview, the person interviewing you will think you are only interested in making money and have no specific interest in the position.

Make sure you are well rested for the interview. Have a conservative outfit cleaned and pressed for the meeting. Make sure your shoes are shined, your teeth are brushed and your hair is well groomed. Sit up straight in the meeting. No slouching! Show up five minutes early. And, be nice to the receptionist – if you are rude or demanding they will certainly report back to the hiring official.

Be natural. Never lie or embellish information. Most companies will ask for references. If they do, have a list prepared with names and numbers for people to contact. Make sure you tell those people that someone may be calling them. 

Be sure to close the meeting professionally. Discuss what the next steps should be and don’t be afraid to ask how the interview went.

Good Luck!