Congratulations on landing an interview for what could be your next career move!

These tips should help ensure that your interview goes smoothly.

Arrive at least 15 minutes early, leave your phone in the car and dress appropriately. It’s not enough to put your phone on vibrate. In a quiet room, a vibrating phone is a distraction. If you feel you must bring it inside, make sure it’s on silent.

Make a dry run of getting where you need to be and figure out where you will park and what door you will go into so you’re not scrambling on interview day.

Be pleasant to everyone you meet. You never know whose eyes are on you.

Even if you’ve submitted a resume online, it’s helpful to have a few copies of your resume on hand. Be prepared to answer any questions about what’s on your resume, especially if the duties for the position match your qualifications. Prepare for those questions by thinking beforehand of examples of what you have done. For example, if you are asked about your ability to collaborate, offer an example when you have successfully been part of a team environment and be sure to include the final results of that project.

Concrete specific examples, results with numbers, are always preferred over vague, evasive responses.

Be prepared to talk about your strengths and weaknesses, and again, think about those answers and how they relate to the position. Everybody has weaknesses. If you have a weakness that relates specifically to the position you are applying for, it’s best not to focus on that. If you’re applying for an accounting job, you don’t want to say that you struggle with math. When you mention a weakness, make sure you address how you’re addressing it to make it a strength.

If you’re asked about salary, avoid saying, “It’s negotiable.” Prior to your interview, you’ve ideally researched the company thoroughly and have some idea of a pay range. Stick to giving a range rather than a specific number if the question of salary arises.

Be prepared with questions of your own. Ask about opportunities for growth and advancement. Ask the person interviewing you what he or she enjoys about working for the company.

Throughout the interview, maintain eye contact and try to establish a comfortable rapport, so you’re having a conversation rather than participating in a Q&A. Don’t talk so much that you dominate the conversation; be careful to let the interviewer steer the direction. Be sure to listen and engage and ask follow-up questions if you have them.

Make sure before you leave that it’s obvious you have interest in the position. The interview is part of the discovery process for you, too, so it’s always best to repeat your interest after hearing what the job is all about.

Of course, you want to know when hiring decisions will be made. Ask about a timetable for that and if it’s OK for you to follow up with a call or email if you haven’t heard by a certain date.

Your interview doesn’t end until you leave the premises. Remember to be courteous to everyone you meet during your exit. Drive safely out of the lot. Follow up the next day with a brief thank you note that you mail, hand deliver or email. If there’s something you forgot to bring up during the interview, feel free to include it in the email. Be concise, direct and to the point.

Be confident. Feel free to rehearse answers beforehand but be careful not to sound robotic. Most of all relax and tell yourself, “I’ve got this!”

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Ellie Howard in the Lee Group Newport News office Tuesday May 31, 2022.