Better Leave These Behind When You Interview

Posted by Pat Tovo

Don't bring coffee to an interviewIt’s not getting any easier.  The cleared job market remains competitive which means identifying the right fit is going to take some hard work.  Finding a cleared job is no exception. You will research companies, network with friends and former colleagues, polish your resume, apply to job postings and practice your presentation.  All time consuming, all necessary.

With that investment in mind, you want to make sure when you score a promising interview that you continue to put your best self forward.  Don’t blow all that hard work by showing up to meet a potential employer with a bunch of extra “stuff”.

The old adage, “Less is more”, is really important during the interview process.  Think polished. Professional. Ready to do the job.

Here’s what you should leave behind when interviewing so you don’t distract from your talents shining through.

Other people:  Do not bring your mother, your significant other or a supportive friend.  No one. It’s nice that you might have friends or family to support you but on an interview is not the time or place.  Even if someone is driving you to the interview, have them stay in the car or walk the neighborhood.  Do not even have them wait in the lobby.  The hiring manager may come there to greet you.  First impressions are everything and the need to have support screams “I’m not ready to be a professional”.

Messy appearance:  That spot on your tie that you think no will notice – they will.  A wrinkled blouse screams you do not care.  Mud on your shoes implies you might be better suited for construction work.  Your clothing does not have to be designer quality, but you need to leave the mess behind.  Cleared jobs often require attention to detail so start selling yourself with a polished appearance.

Electronics:  Okay, you can keep your phone in a pocket or portfolio, but check, double check and triple check that the sound is muted.  Not on vibrate, but completely muted.  Bringing a laptop is overkill unless you plan on doing a presentation of past work.  If you have a watch synced to your phone, mute it as well.  No crazy ring tones or buzzing vibration should distract from the time you have to sell yourself.

Food and beverage:  Even if you suffer from dry mouth, do not carry a beverage into the interview.  Take a drink of water before you meet the hiring manager or pop a small breath mint into your mouth.  Drinks are distracting, they can be spilled and unless you plan to share, it would be impolite.  Not bringing food should be an obvious choice.  You may have had lunch just before the interview, but stuffing the leftover smelly sandwich into your pocket or briefcase will stink up your chance to make a good impression.

Packages:  Maybe you need to run to the post office after the interview or you did some shopping before.  Doesn’t matter.  Do not bring those packages with you.  It’s hard to shake hands and properly introduce yourself when you’re juggling bags or boxes.  It also implies to the hiring manager that this interview was not your priority.

Reading material:  Leave the books at home along with the Kindle, newspaper and magazines.  You may think you will impress a potential employer by sporting a professional publication or book touting business acumen, but it’s a sad ploy.  Even if you have a long, boring bus ride to the employer’s location, leave reading materials behind and use the time to practice how you’re going to sell yourself or brush up on the company’s background.

That’s what you leave behind.  So what do you bring?  Here’s a quick list:

  • Several clean, crisp copies of your resume.
  • Another copy of your cover letter if one was submitted initially.
  • Professional appearance.
  • Confidence.
  • A big smile and a firm handshake.
  • Evidence that you did your homework on the hiring company and the individuals you’ll be talking to.

Everything I’ve just described — the things you leave behind and the things you take — holds true when you attend a job fair too.

As a cleared job seeker you need to be prepared to put your best foot forward in a competitive job market.  You’ve done your homework now the interview is your time to close the deal.  It’ll be easier to do so if you go in uncluttered.  Good luck!

Pat Tovo guides job seekers in conducting successful employment searches through targeted prospecting, effective resume writing, and polished interviewing skills.  She enjoys facilitating workshops and working one-on-one in career counseling.

This entry was posted on Saturday, January 02, 2016 7:10 am

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