You got the call -- you have an in person interview! Perhaps you've had a phone interview first, where you shared highlights of your background, experience, and skills with a recruiter at the company. Likely, you also helped them understand how your career in the military uniquely qualifies you for the job you are pursuing.
Now comes the in person interview, where your appearance, words, body language and materials will be evaluated in addition to your background. Prior to the interview, review your research (on the company, industry and interviewer), gather directions to the meeting, and be sure to keep the phone number of the person you'll be meeting with close by. When you get to the interview, leave your research notes, phone numbers, and directions in the car.
To ensure the best success at a job interview, be sure to bring these things with you:
- A portfolio. Ideally, you should bring a leather (or faux leather) portfolio that will have a notepad, your business cards, and notes you'll need for the interview. Unless your portfolio is stamped with your military insignia or college alma mater's logo, avoid portfolios with logos of other companies or groups. Make sure the inside is neat and organized. The interviewer can see what's inside when you open it.
- A pen. As simple as it sounds, hiring managers find many interviewees forget the basics, like a pen, when they come for the meeting. Bring your own, and avoid using a pen that has a logo or is distracting (such as ones with sparkles on it) when taking notes in the interview.
- Copies of your resume. Regardless of how many times you've emailed your resume to people at the company, bring several clean copies of your resume with you. Offer them to people you are meeting with.
- References. Sure, you can offer to email or send a list of your references after the interview, but it is much more impressive to have them ready to hand over. Be sure your list of references is printed on the same paper, in the same font, and using the same formatting as your resume. This way they look like they go together.
- Business cards. When searching for a new job, you should have basic business cards to hand out when you meet someone new (in a networking situation) and at an interview. Even if the interviewer has a copy of your resume, offer them your business card when you get to the interview room.
- Smartphone. While I'll advise you to turn the phone off during the interview (even when the phone is on "silent," it still vibrates and can be distracting,) you should have your smartphone with you to schedule any follow up meetings and appointments. The exception to this would be if you use a small paper calendar. Then bring your calendar.
- List of questions. Instead of hoping you'll remember the questions you've developed for the interviewer, write them down. Once you get into the interview, you might forget what you wanted to ask. Review your questions before you ask them, in case they have already been answered during your conversation.
- Only the keys you need. Avoid bringing your extra-large key ring containing everything from your front door key to your old high school locker key. Take off the ones you need most -- your house key and car key, perhaps -- and keep them with you. This will reduce the noise and lumps in your pockets.
- Breath mints. You don't need to bring the entire container of mints, just put a couple inside your pocket. When you walk into the lobby of the building for the interview, pop them into your mouth. They should be sufficiently dissolved by the time you are greeted by the front desk receptionist, and your good breath will leave a positive impression.
- Your "A" Game. When meeting a potential new employer, you need to bring enthusiasm, confidence, and personality. Even for the most mundane jobs, employers seek to hire people who will be a positive influence on others, fit into the culture of the company, and project confidence.
The in person interview is an important step in getting hired. Create a checklist of things to prepare, bring, and use to follow up to these critical meetings to ensure you make a great impression.