You wrote a great resume and cover letter, and now you’ve been contacted for an interview. Whether by phone or in-person, follow these guidelines to clinch the deal.
By Rose Curtis | May 2006
Hiring decisions are made during interviews. IT job seekers particularly face many challenges intrinsic to the interview process by having to convince hiring managers of both technical acumen and soft skills such as communication and presentation abilities.
In today’s competitive job market, make sure you put your best foot forward by following these interview etiquette guidelines:
Hiring managers use phone interviews as a way to quickly screen candidates. Any correspondence with a company representativeÂ¿be it an HR manager, secretary, or department headÂ¿should be considered an interview. The phone interview is no exception.
Most phone interviews are scheduled in advance. To prepare for a phone interview, keep a hard copy of your latest resume and the job announcement by your phone. During the conversation, refer to key points from your resume, such as projects completed, technical certifications, and other skills and accomplishments. Also, suggest how your skills can make a positive impact in this new job. Avoid using slang; when hiring managers hear a candidate use casual language or find that a job seeker cannot provide answers relevant to the job description, they immediately reject prospects for their unprofessional phone demeanor.
While a phone interview may feel like a casual conversation, it is really your first-round interview that you must pass in order to advance to the next level in the hiring process: the in-person interview.
To prepare for an in-person interview, arrive to the site at least 15 minutes early. Bring two copies of your resume, a typed list of your professional references and their contact information, and a pen and paper to record notes and questions during the interview.
As the saying goes, you don’t get a second chance to make a first impression, so make sure your appearance is as sharp as your resume and cover letter. Get a haircut if your hair is slightly outgrown, clip and clean fingernails, and trim facial hair. Go light with perfume or cologne, or don’t wear any at all. As for jewelry, keep earrings, rings, and bracelets to a minimum, and opt for stud earrings for a best first impression.
Dress conservatively and wear a suit in muted colors, such as black, gray, or navy blue, even if the prospective company seems to have a casual work environment. Be sure to also wear clean and polished shoes. In fact, most people form a first impression of strangers based on hair, clothing, and shoes. Try on your interview ensemble the day before your meeting to make sure everything is clean, fits, and looks professional.
In addition to making sure your appearance is exceptional, IT professionals must convey professional communication skills as well. Enunciate clearly, make eye contact, and sit up straight with good posture in order to convey a powerful impression of an effective communicator. Think about the flip-side. Would you hire someone who slouched, spoke with his hand in front of his mouth, and never made eye contact? No hiring manager would hire this candidate.
Keep in mind that the job interview is not only a chance for a hiring manager to get to know you, but it’s also an opportunity to make sure the position is a good fit with your interests and career path. Ask questions about the position, the company, and the types of projects you would be working on to make sure you would enjoy the opportunity at hand.
After an interview, send the interviewer a thank-you note, either via email or "snail" mail, within 24 hours. Reference a few points that you discussed during the interview to remind the interviewer of your meeting and emphasize the reasons why you would be the ideal candidate for the job.
In conclusion, treat all correspondence with a company – whether it is sending your resume, answering a phone call or email, or having a face-to-face interview – as if it is your only opportunity to speak to a company representative. Always work towards making a great impression. Keep your language professional at all times, dress to impress, and stress your professional skills and accomplishments as much as possible.
Follow these guidelines to IT interview etiquette, and you will be sure to impress hiring managers and get the job offers you want.
Rose Curtis is a freelance writer living in New York City.