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Last month I wrote about how to ace a phone interview, and hopefully after dazzling the recruiter over the phone you’ll get the opportunity to come onsite and meet for an office interview.

Keep these things in mind as you prep – at an in-person interview you’re more likely to meet with the supervisor of the position or other members of your potential department, people who know a lot about the duties for the position, whereas over the phone you probably spoke with a recruiter or someone in HR.  And another (obvious) difference between the two interviews is that at an office interview, you can see each other.

Practice & Prepare

During a phone interview you can have all your resources out in front of you, but at an office interview you’ll need to have done your research ahead of time and remember your talking points.  Try to find out who will be part of the interview and check them out on LinkedIn.  Review the company website, more than once, and definitely check it the day of the interview in case they have a big announcement.

Interviewing is a skill, and as with all skills, the more you practice – the better you get.  Think about aspects of your work that you are most proud of and choose which you want to highlight.  If you have someone who will listen and give feedback to you in a no-pressure situation as you talk through these accomplishments, the type of work you’ve done in the past, as well as relationships with supervisors and coworkers, doing so will help you get in the habit of discussing your career history.

Be Poised & Professional

The first step to being poised and professional is to practice and prepare.  The next step is to keep in mind that this interview is another first impression and that your appearance should say something about the type of the worker you are – professional, organized, and hopefully well groomed.  Now is the time to get a haircut, to try on a potential (clean & unwrinkled) interview outfit (you can’t go wrong with a suit), to make sure you smile, make eye contact, and start with a handshake. Keep confident in knowing that you’ve practiced and prepared and that you have something to offer.

Body Check

To maintain your poise, do body scans or check-ins throughout the interview to make sure your body language is conveying the right message.  Keep the fidgeting to a minimum, maintain good eye contact, and check your posture. I know I fidget with my hands so I try to keep them in my lap, but sometimes I forget and need to “re-remember” to keep them out of sight.

Oh, and smile.  Your body language shouldn’t scream, “I’m terrified and anxious I won’t get this job”, but rather should show you’re a confident employee who is excited about the opportunity to work here.

Be Ready for Curveballs

Yesterday on LinkedIn we posted about the reasoning behind weird interview questions.  Know that some organizations ask off the wall interview questions or have strange interview practices.  Take TechnologyAdvice, a company with a friendly game of Ping-Pong included at the conclusion of interviews.  The best thing you can do when you’re thrown off balance is to remain good-natured about it.  Laugh it off, show humility and do your best.  The worst thing you can do is to get angry and defensive and lash out.

With each question, think about how you can relate your accomplishments and past performance to the discussion – you want to drive home your take away points. Unfortunately, though, sometimes the curve ball is finding out something that is a deal breaker for you about the job – too much travel, for example.  When this happens, be honest and don’t let too much time pass before withdrawing from the process if you know you’re not the right person for the role.

Ask the Right Questions

Keep in mind that the person answering your questions is probably someone who knows a great deal about what this position entails.  This is your chance to uncover key details and spark further conversation and also get insight into whether this is the right opportunity for you.

No need yet to have a discussion about benefits and compensation.  Those details can come later.  I suggest:

  • What will be the first priority coming into this position?
  • What is the greatest challenge facing this position?
  • What percentage of time is spent doing xyz tasks?
  • How does this department/position interact with the organization at large?
  • From a daily task standpoint – what does a typical day look like?

Make Your Last Impression Count

Last impressions count too.  Get your interviewer’s contact information and send a thank you email – as soon as you get home.  Efficiency matters with a thank you.  Also, be specific in your thank you – reiterate items discussed during the interview and use this as an opportunity to relate how a specific skill or qualification can help their organization.

Make sure to have timely and thorough follow through on any assessments, paperwork and answers throughout the rest of the hiring process – make the employer feel confident and satisfied in their decision to keep you in the running.

Keep in mind that ultimately your goal is to relay that you would be a benefit to the organization and that you’ve got something they should want!  Good luck!

Catherine Schmidt
Catherine Schmidt
Catherine Schmidt is Purple Ink’s Manager of Career Coaching Services and is based in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Catherine has a special interest in career coaching and recruiting and finds joy when she can connect the right person to the right opportunity.

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