There are common themes all hiring managers look for. Knowing these ahead of time can help you get a leg up on the competition by being better prepared.

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Your Preparation
  • Research the institution. Be familiar with their values and their mission and vision statements, as well as how the institution is managed and who is in charge.

  • Have questions prepared. Hiring managers love when applicants have questions. In asking questions, it is important to remember that you should only ask questions based off of the things you have learned or concerns you feel are appropriate to bring up. Remember that your questions should be based on the employer, not about you.

  • Have examples ready of times you have had responsibilities in the past and how they can exemplify your skills.

  • Be "just the right amount" of prepared. Come to the interview in a way that does not show off how much you have done. Simply let it be evident that your character is one that does a good job.

  • Make your accessories professional. Don't show up with a backpack. On the other hand, depending on the situation, a briefcase may be too posh. A nice portfolio is always appropriate.

  • Know the message your dress sends. Simple things like which socks look appropriate when sitting down, having every button fastened (on dress shirts, not suit jackets!), and freshly ironed clothing matters. Dress for the job for which you are interviewing, and go one step above to ensure that you are not under dressed.

  • Arrive (drive) organized. Interview preparation even concerns your car. You may be seen driving up; have your car clean and in order. It is also possible that you will be walked back to your car if a meeting is conducted offsite.

  • Be early so that you can accommodate yourself. You will want time to spare so that you can mentally prepare before stepping into the office.

At the Interview
  • The handshake. When first approached by the interviewer(s), a firm handshake shows intentionality in the meeting, and communicates a strong, positive start.

  • Wait to be invited in and motioned where to sit. Don't assume anything and err on the side of caution.

  • Mind your beverage. If you accept the offer for a beverage, don't use it as a safety blanket. It should not become a distraction.

  • Assess your body language. Do this at the beginning of the interview and continue to assess throughout. How are you presenting yourself, and what messages may you be sending?

  • Thank your interviewer(s) by name for their time and consideration.

  • Watch for cues. Always wait for your interviewer(s) to conclude the interview. Mirror their actions; if they stand, stand. When they go to the door, walk to the door, etc.

  • Impress with your attentiveness. Be polite to the office staff and take the time to tell the receptionist thank you as you leave the office.

  • Follow up with a "Thank You" note after the interview. Sharing how much you appreciated their time allows you to stand out, particularly when you reference something specific from the interview. If you plan on mailing a card, which is preferable, have it ready in your car. If you plan to send an email, wait until that evening or the following day to express your gratitude.

One Final Thought

While interviewing is stressful for the candidate, it is also stressful for the interviewers as they need to make a good hiring decision. There are consequences for the hiring manager who makes a bad hire, not only financially due to the loss of productivity and training time, but also emotionally for the hiring manager and other staff. If you have the qualifications for the job, it comes down to the rapport you build with the hiring manager during the interview process. If you follow the advice above, it may help the hiring manager gain confidence that hiring you would be a good decision.