I landed an interview, now what?

The kids are grown, you’ve decided to go back into the workforce and it’s been a learning process on how to apply for jobs. After months of sending out resumes, attending networking events and letting everyone know that you’re looking for a job, finally, you’ve been called in for an interview. Where should you begin? In a tight economy, it’s considered an “employers market” so you’re well aware that competition is tough. It’s critical to put your best foot forward.

As many have heard before, you only have one chance to make a first impression. How can you make a positive, lasting, unique impression?

Research the company. Even though you did some research before you applied, now it’s time to find out more. Educate yourself on the history, organizational structure, products and services offered, and the demographic of employees (Baby Boomers, Gen Y’s, X’s or Millenials). What is the culture like? A good way is try and connect with a current employee of the company.

Dress for success. After finding more out about the culture, you’ll want to know how to dress appropriately for the interview. Rule of thumb is to dress one step up from the norm. For example, if women tend to wear khakis with some type of blouse and clogs, try to find a classic jacket in a neutral color over slacks that coordinate well. Make sure the clothes fit well, not too tight or too baggy maybe use a scarf for accent color. Make sure your hair is well kempt, your jewelry is simple and makeup is light. For this particular example, leave the extra piercing jewelry and cover tattoos if possible.

Know what’s on your resume (and bring extra copies with you). Practice with someone and let the person use your resume to ask you questions. Note the point you want to make that gives the interviewer a clear picture of the “fit” for the position in which you’re applying.

Locate the location. If possible, drive to the location where the interview is being held so you’ll know what time to leave your house. Knowing the way will reduce the stress.

Have references ready. I recommend contacting your references before the interview so you can give the interviewer the names and contact info for each.

Personalize your thank-you. After the interview, send the interviewer(s) a hand written thank-you note. This is a lost art and will be sure to have you stand out from the others. However, if you do this, remember to ask for a business card so you have correct spellings and titles of all persons involved.

Interviews can be nerve wracking. The more prepared you are the more confident you’ll come across! Breathe, breathe, breathe … and good luck.

About the author: Jeanne Paquette is the publisher for Employment Times LLC, producers of Employment Times, MyJobWave.com, HRTimes magazine and HRTimesOnline.com.

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