An Article by Tali Nizic, Controllers on Call
Throughout the many years of my recruiting experience, I have collected feedback from employers and candidates alike. Fact: You will get hired because of the solid job you do during the interview. Remember: The interview is your opportunity to present yourself at your best. It is an opportunity to make a positive impression about you. How do you make your interview a successful one? From feedback as well as my own personal experience, please allow me to share with you a few of these elements of a successful interview:

Be prepared – research the company you are meeting with.
Read the web site which will supply you with a lot of information. In the event that there is no web site, call the company and ask to pick up annual reports, employee newsletters, promotional material and a corporate brochure. Where applicable, ask your recruiter for information. You need to find out what the company does, what a person in your position might be doing, and whether the company has growth potential.

Bring extra copies of your resume. Print your hard copy resumes on 100-gsm-weight paper, either white or ivory available at any office supplies store.
Be presentable, clean, tidy, and neat. Ensure that you dress for the position you are applying for.

Be punctual! It is good practice to arrive 10 minutes prior to the start of the interview. In the event that you are running behind, stop and make a phone call! Tell the interviewer that you will be late, ask whether that is suitable with their timetable. In the event that it is not suitable, re-schedule! When you arrive, apologize profusely!

Be courteous and pleasant. Include the individuals who will not be interviewing you, i.e. the receptionist. A good impression passed on to the interviewer will only work in your favor.

Greet the employer. Introduce yourself – extend a warm and firm handshake, make direct eye contact. Wait until you are invited to sit down. Be friendly. Smile. It is OK to be nervous. Let the employer know that you are nervous, that will “melt” the ice. Speak clearly. Build rapport. Get the interviewer to talk about the organizations past successes, future plans, and present resources. This will give you context for the interview.

Never smoke or drink alcohol before your interview. The smell is strong, and the aroma will follow you for a long time.

Be prepared to talk about yourself in general and your personal qualities – your “soft skills”. Discuss your education and training skills. Be positive. Discuss your work experience – why you accepted positions, why you left positions. Make sure you have an answer as to why you want to work with the company you are interviewing with. Ask a lot of questions about the position you are being interviewed for. Remember that an interview is like a baseball game. There must be lots of back and forth communications.

Do you want the position you are being interviewed for? ASK AND YOU SHALL RECEIVE! Effective interviewing is a two way process. Ask many questions. Remember: Your goal is to get the job. A candidate that does not ask leading questions is generally seen as weak, indecisive or uninterested. There are signs that the interview is just about over. The interviewer will shuffle papers, look at the watch, ask you whether you have additional questions, and so on. Interviewing is like swinging a bat in a baseball game. When you do not swing the bat, you don’t get a home run. Experience taught me that you must say the word hire during your interview! Tell the interviewer: “I appreciate your valuable time, and the care with which you outlined the position. I am most interested and excited about this opportunity. I know we can work well together. From what you have seen of me, am I the person you would consider hiring for this position?” (Providing this is what you want). Ask, “When will I hear from you next”? This will leave the interviewer with the impression that you are genuinely interested in this opportunity.

Remember: First impressions are made in the first 10 seconds and may never change. You have ONE chance at an interview, use it well! You never get a second chance to make a good first impression. Think confident thoughts and you will act confidently. Blue seems to be the right color for interviews. Black is a poor choice of color. NEVER wear casual shoes to an interview. Ensure your shoes are clear and in good shape. Shoes happen to be one of the first things that interviewers remember about an interviewee. To make sure you arrive dressed properly, ask your recruiter what the dress code is. In the event that you are going to the interview not through a recruiter, pick up the phone, introduce your self to the receptionist and ask for the company’s dress code.

Jewelry, like shoes, speak volumes with first impressions. Choose a couple of classy pieces. In the event that you have pierced more than just your ears, take all the rings off and leave them at home.

Do not wear too much perfume or cologne. When in doubt avoid using it all together.
Check your breath. Carry a breath mint with you at all times. Make sure you do not chew on it during the interview.

Never speak negatively about any of your former employers.
Share the reasons as to why you have decided to move on. Do not hesitate to tell the interviewer the reason or reasons which prompted you to seek new employment.

Always believe in yourself and trust the process! We wish you best of luck in your job search!

Tali has been in the recruitment field since 1996 and brings with her extensive experience in the placement of middle to executive-level Finance and Human Resources Professionals in contract and permanent positions over a wide range of industries. tali@controllersoncall.ca, www.controllersoncall.ca