Despite being in the recruiting industry for many years, I continue to be surprised by some of the basic mistakes candidates make when interviewing. Here are some tips that should be useful to all candidates, especially people new to interviewing, or who haven’t had the opportunity for some time, and hopefully will be a useful refresher for those people who have had experience. I have seen candidates chew gum in interviews, wear inappropriate clothing and even kick their shoes off and curl up in the chair during an interview. Needless to say, these candidates did NOT get the job offer.
Interviewing is a lot like dating – and while you, the candidate, are definitely evaluating the firm to determine whether or not it is a good fit, never forget that you won’t have a choice to make if you don’t get an offer. Remember that they are evaluating you and the goal is to get that offer – and then you can decide what you want to do. Some basics: be on time. Period. Since Seattle traffic is absolutely unpredictable, give yourself extra time and if for ANY REASON you are going to be late, make sure you have your recruiter or firm number handy to let them know if there are problems. Be prepared. Bring a copy of your resume – several copies if you believe you will be meeting with more than one person. They may not ask for it, but if they do, it’s nice to have it available and always a good thing not to make the interviewer work by providing copies. Do your research. Know something about the firm – size, type of practice areas (if more than one), commitment to pro bono, how they got their start. Remember the dating concept? If you can show you are interested in them as a firm, and want to work there, that goes a long way. Be professional – in both attire, demeanor and what you say. Impressions matter a lot – especially first impressions, so you need to look the part. Ask questions, take notes, and never, ever say anything negative about a prior employer. During interviews, firms will often try to get candidates to relax just a little too much to see where the candidate will draw the line about what they say. Limit personal comments, and remember that they are seeing how you will behave not only with them, but with potential clients and other staff. Basic stuff – but important.