Episode #8 – How to Prepare for the Face to Face Interview

How to Prepare for the Face-to-Face Interview

Sharita: Welcome to “The Animal Health Employment Insider,” brought to you by The VET Recruiter. In this podcast, search consultant Stacy Pursell, founder and CEO of The VET Recruiter, provides insight and practical advice for both companies and job seekers. The VET Recruiter’s mission is to help organizations acquire top talent, while helping professionals attain career-enhancing opportunities that increase their quality of life.

In today’s podcast, we’ll be talking about what professionals can do to prepare for the face-to-face interview. Hello, Stacy.

Stacy: Hello, Sharita, I’m glad to be here.

Sharita: Exactly how important is the face-to-face interview during the hiring process?

Stacy: It’s extremely important. It’s where a professional has a chance to make a case for their candidacy and to stand out from others they’re competing against in the process. It should be taken very seriously and professionals should prepare for it thoroughly.

Sharita: What approach should professionals take when they’re preparing for the face-to-face interview?

Stacy: There are different ways to be prepared for the interview, and you must give the proper attention to all of those ways. Falling short in any one area could jeopardize your candidacy.

Specifically, you should be prepared physically, mentally, and psychologically.

Sharita: What does it mean to be prepared physically?

Stacy: That encompasses a couple of different things. First of all, it involves your physical appearance. You must be dressed professionally for the interview and you must present yourself in the best manner possible. That means a polished appearance and appropriate personal hygiene.

You’ve probably heard the expression, “You don’t get a second chance to make a first impression.” That’s the case when you meet people during an interview. This is the first time that you’ve met them, and their first impression of you is very important.

Sharita: What else is involved in physical preparation?

Stacy: There are other physical aspects of the interview that people must be prepared for. These involve how they handle themselves physically during the interview, including verbal and non-verbal communication.

Sharita: Non-verbal communication is part of physical preparation?

Stacy: That’s correct. You must be prepared to conduct yourself in a certain way non-verbally during the interview. You should be very conscious of your body language and what it’s saying. First of all, you should smile, make eye contact as much as you can, and maintain your composure. Sit up straight and don’t slouch. That sends the wrong message.

You should also appear energetic and enthusiastic. Employers want to hire people who have a lot of energy and are enthusiastic about working for their organization.

When you demonstrate these qualities, you come across as more confident in your abilities. People like to be around people who are confident, and that also means they like to hire people who are confident. However, that doesn’t mean being arrogant. There’s a fine line between being confident and being arrogant, and you want to make sure that you’re on the right side of that line.

Sharita: What about verbal communication? What’s most important in that area?

Stacy: First of all, speak clearly. Don’t mumble. Those who are conducting the interview should have no doubt about what you’re saying. When you mumble or are soft spoken, that often comes across as lacking confidence. Also, use proper grammar and a good vocabulary. Slang terminology has no place in a face-to-face interview.

Sharita: Let’s move on to the second area of preparation, which is mental preparation. What can professionals do to prepare themselves mentally for the interview?

Stacy: You must be focused during the interview, so you should prepare to be focused and be focused on the correct things. You should have a plan and then execute that plan. At the heart of your plan is communicating how your skills, abilities, and experience illustrate how you are the best candidate for the position.

That means you should have conducted research about not just the position itself, but also the company. You should know as much as you can about the people who are interviewing you. Much of that information can be gathered from their LinkedIn profiles.

Another part of your mental preparation is “selling” yourself during the interview.

Sharita: “Selling” yourself? What does that mean?

Stacy: That means being prepared to use every opportunity you have to point out how you are the best candidate for the position. Even if you’re a great candidate, you can’t assume that the interviewers are going to “connect the dots” and decide they should hire you. Connect the dots for them and then make the decision easier for them by continually stressing your skills and accomplishments that are most relevant to the job.

Sharita: What else can professionals do to prepare for the interview mentally?

Stacy: You should arrive about 10 minutes early for the interview. Don’t arrive an hour early, though. You might think that makes you look like a go-getter, but it doesn’t. It makes you look more desperate than anything. But when you arrive early, it gives you more time to prepare yourself mentally. If you’re late, you’ll be hurried and flustered.

Logically organize your thoughts prior to the interview, so that you’re able to give well thought-out answers. If you don’t understand a question, then ask the interviewer to rephrase it. Focus and pay attention as closely as you can, so that there are no misunderstandings.

Sharita: Isn’t it also true that professionals should have a list of questions ready to ask the interviewers?

Stacy: That’s true. Not only should you have a list of predetermined questions about the position and the company itself, but you should also ask questions throughout the interview as needed.

You must remember that you’re interviewing the employer just as much as they’re interviewing you. Just because you’re being interviewed doesn’t mean you will automatically accept an offer of employment. You must feel comfortable accepting an offer, and asking questions during the interview is one way to determine if you’d like to work for the organization.

Sharita: What’s the difference between being mentally ready for an interview and being psychologically ready?

Stacy: Mental preparation is all about knowledge and focus, gathering information prior to the interview so that you’re prepared to both answer and ask questions. You focus level is tied to how well you answer and ask those questions. Being psychologically ready involves the course of the interview, specifically the direction it goes and the role that the candidate plays in determining that direction.

Sharita: So candidates should be prepared to take a proactive role in helping guide the course of the interview?

Stacy: Absolutely. The first step is being prepared to listen to not only the words of the people interviewing you, but also their tone of voice and body language. That way, you can pick up on their style of interaction. Once you’ve done that, you can more easily determine how the interviewers think and what is most important to them regarding the position in question. Then you can better relate to the interviewers and pattern your answers accordingly.

Sharita: What else should professionals do to help determine the course of the interview?

Stacy: You should ask those conducting the interview to describe the position and its responsibilities early in the conversation. That way, you can tie your skills, background, and experience to the position. We talked earlier about “selling” yourself all throughout the interview, and this is how you set yourself up to do that.

Sharita: It sounds like candidates should be more assertive during the interview.

Stacy: They should be! You have to remember that an interview is NOT a one-way interrogation. As I said, you’re interviewing them just as much as they’re interviewing you. As a result, you should take a proactive, assertive approach. That should be your frame of mind.

Now, there’s a difference between being assertive and being aggressive. The former will help you to stand out in a positive way. The latter could hurt you and could ultimately result in you losing out on the job.

Sharita: What else can candidates do to prepare themselves psychologically?

Stacy: You should be ready for tough interview questions. Employers try to ask questions that put candidates on their heels, so they can see how they react in such a situation. You must anticipate these types of questions. In addition to researching those questions, you should also be prepared to not let questions fluster you. Retain your composure and remain calm.

Sharita: We’re almost out of time for today, but what other tips do you have for candidates as they prepare for the interview?

Stacy: You should always remember your number-one objective. That objective is to get an offer of employment. During the interview, you have to forget about whether you’d fit into the company culture or whether you could work with the other people in the room. Those are decisions for later, and they’re only decisions for later if you get an offer.

Your priority should be to do what is necessary to get that offer. Once that happens, then you can decide how you want to proceed. But without an offer, there’s no decision that has to be made. When you receive an offer, you have options, and the goal of the interview is to help create options for yourself and your career.

Sharita: It seems like there’s a quite a bit that goes into preparing for the face-to-face interview. Do candidates sometimes underestimate the work and preparation that’s involved?

Stacy: They do, and they’re hurting themselves by doing that. If you’re serious about growing your career and landing a job that’s more satisfying in every way, then you need to be serious about how you prepare for the face-to-face interview.

Sharita: Stacy, thanks so much for all of this great information today.

Stacy: Thank you, Sharita. I look forward to our next podcast!