#1 LEAD WITH THE GOOD STUFF. Very rarely is someone’s interest peaked at the bottom of a resume page. Why? Because just as you would tune someone out who bores you, employers can easily glaze over lackluster resumes if they don’t grab their attention. Lead with what matters to them. And yes, this might mean that you have several variations of your resume based on the jobs you are applying for. Trust me, it’s worth the extra few minutes to cut/paste/rearrange in order of relevance to make it to the next phase.
#2 SPELL CHECK needs to be your best friend. The majority of resumes and cover letters are being distributed digitally these days. If the interviewer can open it a word doc and see the jagged red lines under typos, so can you! Take the time to edit and proof read your resume. Having a friend (preferably one who pays attention to detail) also read through it can be extremely beneficial.
#3 DON’T OVERSELL YOURSELF. While it’s understandable that you want to paint an amazing picture through a well-crafted resume so that it stands out from the rest, if you are dishonest about your accolades or abilities and it is discovered before, during or after the interview, say "bye bye" to the opportunity. Lying your way into a position is going to hurt you and eventually the company you are interviewing with. Plus, your professional reputation will follow you forever. Be honest about your abilities and accurately highlight your strengths.
#4 RESEARCH who you will be speaking with. I can’t begin to tell you how often I interview people who have done very little research about the company or about the people they will be interviewing with. It sounds like such common sense but at least 50% of first round interviews lead to me finding out that they have no clue. With nearly anything only a Google search away, this is inexcusable. When the interview is scheduled, always ask who you will be meeting with. From there, do your research. Many companies post their employees bios online or they can be found on LinkedIn. If you see you have a connection through a common contact on LinkedIn, reach out to that contact to learn more about the interviewer. Not only are you trying to make a great impression by being prepared, but this can help you learn if this company is even a good fit in the first place or if your potential new boss is a total nightmare to work for.
#5 PRACTICE your responses. There are only so many variations of “tell me about yourself” or “why are you a good fit for this company” that can be asked. Write down, or Google, common interview questions and make a bulleted list of the points you want to hit in your answers. Don’t try to memorize responses word for word, but rather focus on the points that you want to get across. If you try to repeat something “perfectly,” chances are your words will get mixed up and cause you to stumble through something that should come across as effortless. Record yourself on your phone and listen to it. While it’s hard to hear ourselves speak, it can be extremely beneficial to be able to listen and filter out the abundance of “ums” that sneak into our dialog. Please note that this says practice – not become a robot.
#6 GOOGLE YOURSELF. The first thing most employers do these days is turn to the Internet, and to be honest, we go right to the juicy stuff. While LinkedIn is lovely and serves a great purpose, it is geared toward professionals and your profile has likely been meticulously edited to showcase only what you want people to see. I look at Facebook, Twitter, Vine, YouTube, and anything else that might shine a true light on your character. If you make a habit of talking about your crazy happy hours and how hard it is to get through your work day because of it, or have bad mouthed the companies online that you have worked for in the past, chances are you won’t make it into the interview room. While it might feel good to vent or a good idea to share in the moment, it's probably not worth missing out on what may be a professional opportunity of a lifetime.
#7 EARLY IS ON TIME (and on time is late). Nothing will irritate someone who lives and dies by their calendar more than someone who doesn’t respect their time. It speaks volumes to the interviewer when someone is running behind. If there is a legitimate reason, please call ahead. Your rule of thumb should always be to arrive 15 minutes ahead of time. If you are interviewing over the Internet, test your connection and the system you are using prior to your actual interview time.
#8 LOOK YOUR BEST. Most importantly, get some rest. You should be fresh and sharp during your interview. Make sure you are in appropriate, comfortable attire that is well tailored. While running out to get a new power suit or outfit might sound great, make sure you actually try it on and practice sitting in it in front of a mirror to see how it looks from the interviewer’s point of view. Comfort is important because it will put you at ease. Also, breaking in your new shoes is critical as well. The last thing you want to do is slip because the soles aren’t worn in or stumble because your heels are too high. If one of your interviews is via Skype or FaceTime, present yourself as though you are in person, and for goodness sakes, clean up the area around you. If your environment appears messy, it will be a distraction and paint an unfavorable picture.
#9 PLEASE SAY THANK YOU. Craft the appropriate “thank you” correspondence in a timely manner. Reference a specific fact or occurrence from your interview to help refresh their memory and keep you fresh in their mind. Do this immediately, especially if they are trying to fill the position quickly. Just like it is important to proof read your resume, proof read your thank you notes and emails as well.
Best of luck in your next interview! With hard work, a good attitude and a few Google searches, anything is possible!