Who should you get an interview with?
Anybody who is willing to listen! Within reason, you want to talk to anyone you can about getting a job. Social interviews, informational interviews . . . any kind of interview will do. Most people make the mistake of not talking to enough people about going to work. You never know who might hire you or know someone who will.
Interview with a non-hiring authority is different.
Any "intermediary" who interviews you but who is not the hiring authority with "pain" (needing to hire someone) is going to be more interested in being careful not to take risk on any candidate than a hiring authority is. This person is going to be more concerned about what he looks like in passing you "up" the interviewing process than he's concerned about your ability to do the job. If you interview with one of these people, your objective is to move beyond him in the interviewing process.
Time is your enemy.
The longer the period of time between interviews, the less likely you are to get hired. Time kills deals! Your job as part of the interviewing process is to keep the interviews going as rapidly and with the sense of urgency as possible. Strategic e-mails and the right phone calls, even voice-mails can move a "hire" along. See Chapter 3 for some guidelines.
If you don't take notes during the interviewing process, you don't look very bright, and your competition will "clean your clock." You won't remember the important points of an interview, because you will be pretty focused on selling yourself. When you go back over the notes you take during the interview, you will have "ammunition" for follow-up letters, e-mails, and, especially, subsequent interviews.
First impressions are critical.
Whether you like it or not—and most folks don't—study after study proves that interviewers adopt an opinion about a candidate in the first 15 to 20 seconds of the interview. My experience is that these studies are about right. Now, a candidate may very well be able to overcome a marginal or poor initial "opinion" by interviewing well. But you need to have it reinforced by what mamma said, "you don't get a second chance at a first impression." Make sure your first impression is a good one.
Always, especially on an initial interview, wear a dark suit and white shirt, conservative tie for a man and a light-colored blouse for a woman. Don't let anybody kid you: Casual dress in an interview is not to your best interest. You just look more like a businessperson with the appropriate dress. If, after the initial interview, you discover a very casual organization, you can dress "down" on subsequent interviews.
Watch your body language.
Keep your feet planted flat on the floor, your arms open or at your side or on the arms of the chair. You want to sit up straight and lean forward enough to make good eye contact with the interviewing authority. You should communicate openness and just a bit of intensity. Never come across as laid back. Practice!
Delivery is important.
Your voice delivery should be enthusiastic, focused with a high degree of confidence. In the beginning most candidates are scared and come across as meek, sometimes in mumbling monotones. You must communicate decisiveness, confidence, enthusiasm, and conviction. Practice!
Don't talk too much or too little.
The two biggest mistakes in interviews themselves are to talk too much or not say enough. Answering questions in the interviewing process takes practice. You want to answer questions or explain things clearly so the interviewing authority understands. But it does take practice.