Your application for the job you’ve been eyeing is accepted. The phone interview(s) went well.  Now, it’s time for the in-person interview; and you don’t want to blow it!  Here are suggestions for significantly increasing your chances of landing your ideal job:

Research the company before submitting your resume.  Learn about the culture, dress code, the organization’s industry, and the management team.  An internet search will reveal many aspects of your possible future employer. Speak with acquaintances who are current or past employees.  You have done due diligence and decided that this is the place you want to work and you’re perfect for the position.  You’ve been called for an on-site interview; now it’s show time!

Dress appropriately.  Even if the position doesn’t call for a long-sleeve dress shirt, wear one.  Of course, supervisors, managers, and upward, will need to wear proper attire, including a nice necktie for men and the equivalent for women.  Be impeccably groomed from head to toe – hair trimmed, manicured fingernails, use hand lotion, breath mints or equivalent, and shoes polished.

Arrive early to the interview site.  I suggest 10-15 minutes in advance of your scheduled time; it gives you the opportunity to check your appearance, relax and gather your thoughts.  Exercise vocal cords by speaking politely to the receptionist and others in the waiting area.  Your conversation should be accompanied with smiles. Sit erect as you wait.

Walk with a purpose in the reception area and through the interview room door.  Shake hands firmly without squeezing.  Wait to be shown where to sit.  Be ready for an unusual question, such as, “Why are you here?”  Answering with “I want a job” is not good.  As a matter of fact, it’s a terrible answer.  Instead, focus on your research about the company: the role it plays in society, the much-admired diversity, and where the company is headed.  You want to be part of that, with the contributions you offer.

Speak in terms of formality.  Our culture is fast becoming less-and-less formal.  Instead of responding “no problem,” say “my pleasure.”  Use the simple “yes” instead of “you bet.”  It’s not old-fashioned to use the terms “Yes Ma’am” and “No Ma’am,” “Yes Sir” and “No Sir.”  Use name handles (Mr., Sir, Ms., Mrs., and Miss).  Further, as you sit in the chair, you are tempted to respond to the interviewer’s welcome by saying “it is great being here.”  Replying with “Thank you, I appreciate this opportunity” is a better phrase.  Formality sets you apart from other candidates and elevates your stature.

About your phone, don’t use it in the reception area, and especially during the interview (this is elementary but worth mentioning).  Silence your phone.  Preferably, turn it off and put it away.  You want to concentrate 100% on the interviewer’s questions and statements.

Do not chew gum or display nervous habits.  This is a time to put your best foot forward and be impressive.  Avoid drumming a pen on the table or drumming your fingers, same goes for tapping your feet on the floor, or rustling papers; avoid these habits.

You also avoid appearing unprepared.  As stated earlier – research the company and the position you are applying for; know both really well.  Give the impression that you are the tailor-made candidate.

Refrain from asking personal questions.  Your prospective boss may be smartly dressed, but don’t ask “where did you get that suit from man?”  Or, “did you attend the Taylor Swift concert last month?  It was a blast!”  I don’t want to be too cynical, but: no, no, and no.  Professionalism is the key word here.  Dress professional, act and sound professional.

BONUS

If you are invited to lunch, remember you’re still being interviewed.  Therefore, wait to be shown where to sit at the restaurant table.  Keep your smartphone, car keys and other personal items off the table.  No smacking of lips while chewing, elbows off the table.  Sit upright.  After the meal, do not stack dishes.  That’s the wait staff job.  Additionally, do not ask for a to-go box.  This professional social situation will make a difference in the hiring process.

Finally, although you said several times “thank you” during the interview, please send a hand-written thank you note to your interviewer; within 24 hours.  In this day of e-mail and text messaging, a hand-written note says a lot about you; it shows you care, have taken time to put pen to paper.  Furthermore, it affords you an excellent reason to practice penmanship.

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