The Elements

By Judith Bowman   |   August 22, 2017

17 Top Tips on Job Interviewing with a Firm

Categories: Hiring & Onboarding

Interviewing can be an intimidating, humiliating and nerve-wracking experience for many however, your true professional colors will surely shine if you are aware of some ‘gentle reminders’ and prepare, accordingly.

First, you must consciously decide to make this a positive, insightful experience.

Be mentally prepared to embrace the challenge and, the opportunity to learn first-hand about this firm, key individuals and, the position itself.

This will help you evaluate whether or not you will be a good candidate not only from a technical/knowledge vantage point but as a “cultural” fit, as well.

These 17 tips will help you successfully navigate the interviewing process:

1. All the book knowledge and technical expertise aside, interpersonal communication skills are key and, personal preparation is paramount: as soon as you arrive, go to the restroom to ”check everything.” Stray hairs, buttons and zippers, pop a breath mint and, wash your hands thoroughly with warm water and soap and dry them thoroughly in order to help eliminate “clammy hands” which are the “kiss of death”.

2. Dress professionally; your attire reflects you – the respect you have for yourself and, your prospective new firm.

3. Use honorifics i.e. Mr., Ms. (women – always in business), Dr., Chancellor, etc.). Do not assume familiarity unless or until invited to do so, as a sign of respect and, showing you assume nothing, in your efforts to grow the relationship.

4. Announce yourself pleasantly, confidently, presenting your card, readable side up.

5. Resist the urge to accept offers of hospitality, i.e. coffee, croissants, water, etc.

6. Travel lightly. Bring only materials you will use for this interview.

7. Stand in the reception area so you are ready to confidently greet your interviewer. Regardless of gender, you – initiate a confident, dry handshake, a powerful, positive reflection on you.

8. Hold everything in your left hand, leaving your right hand free to shake hands.

9. The interviewer to should lead the way to the meeting room… they know the way!

10. Always permit your interviewer to be seated first.

11. If given a choice, select the chair angular to, – versus across the desk from your interviewer (eliminating “barriers”); select the least versus most comfortable chair; it is easier to get in and out of and, helps you resist the urge to get too comfortable and, look a bit sloppy.

12. Should an unannounced individual enter the room or, the telephone ring, do signal your willingness to step out of the room; let the interviewer accept or decline your thoughtful gesture. It is okay to notice and acknowledge photos, plaques, awards, etc. The rule is: anything out is fair game for small talk/conversation. Do be careful where you go with the comments, however, i.e. remarks about someone’s incredibly attractive spouse, should be avoided. Note: Should you not want others to ask or comment on anything in your office/area, we suggest you put it away!

13. Even though it is assumed you will be taking notes, ask permission first – again, a sign of respect, assuming nothing as you endeavor to grow this relationship.

14. Remember, the interview is an opportunity to evaluate each other. Interview the interviewer, as well and, be not shy about initiating open-ended questions i.e. “how long have you worked for the firm? .. what do you like most about working for this company?” etc.; make good eye-contact at all times.

15. It is the interviewer’s responsibility to open and close the interview. Shake hands again at the conclusion of your time together, sans desk as barrier.

16. Write a hand-written thank you note – as soon as possible, following the interview. If you have interviewed with multiple individuals, write thank you notes to each and, personalize them. Regarding sending an e-mail note of thanks, please consider the company itself. If this is an “e-culture” firm who has informed you they prefer “e” correspondence, then an e-mail thank you note would be appropriate. That said, an additional note – hand-written, the timeless, traditional thank you note on your personal stationery, with a stamp versus postage meter (you are not one of ‘bulk’) would never be wrong and only help further your favorable, positive impression with this company. Sending the additional hand-written note also presents yet another opportunity to get YOU in front of this individual, your prospective new employer!

17. Let everything about you project and speak of quality, and CONFIDENCE – from your attire and accessories to your carriage, voice – tonal quality and deliberate articulation, to sitting: soles facing the floor; ladies: remember the “slope” and hands: on the desk -you are not “under-handed” or, going to draw a sword!

Above all else, be yourself! Your attitude during the interview is key. Should they sense weakness, they will prey on it and you will lose. Project positive and you will get positive reaction and results, whether you want the position or not.

Best of luck with your interview!


Judith Bowman
Business Protocol

Judith Bowman founded Protocol Consultants International in 1993 and has prospered to become an established Business Protocol expert, educator, corporate speaker, and renowned authority in the field of Professional Presence, Dining Savvy, International Protocol Awareness, and personal and professional development. Ms. Bowman also provides Protocol Certification. She is a graduate of Boston College and has pursued studies in Effective Business Communication at Harvard University.

Ms. Bowman speaks to critical interpersonal communication skills and shares specific nuances advantageous to exemplary conduct in today’s fast-paced and highly competitive global work environment. She showcases everyday business situations and shows professionals how to leverage these as opportunities to demonstrate respect while earning respect – while showing you know “the difference” while making a difference to stand apart and outclass the competition!

Ms. Bowman has authored two business protocol books: “Don’t Take the Last Donut…” (Career Press) presently sold in 16 countries, translated in 14 languages, and her new book, “How to Stand Apart @ Work …” She has authored a weekly Everyday Etiquette column syndicated throughout New England for ten years by the Pulitzer Prize winning Eagle Tribune Publishing Company. Internationally, she authored a Business Protocol column for the prestigious Noblesse Magazine, China. She presently writes a weekly Business Protocol column for Boston Herald newspapers and has a coordinating weekly radio segment, “A Protocol Moment” on Herald Radio.
She also writes a monthly Fabulous Woman series which features truly fabulous women who have shattered the glass ceiling and has been featured in Leader to Leader, March, 2015.

Bowman has produced a series of support products which include: Executive Etiquette/First Impressions DVD, DINING 101 DVD and Protocol Training DVD – from her on-line How to Stand Apart series.

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