Interviews and consultations are conducted to learn about a person’s business–and personal–skills, specific behaviors, problem-solving capacity, organizational expertise and very importantly, attitude! First of all, what is your objective?  Is it to show you are the most skilled to best solve the company’s problems and meet their needs? This should be at the top of your list.  “This is what I can do and this is how I can achieve it for your organization.  Then be prepared to state the specific skills, experience and talents you have to offer them.

A great portfolio and/or resume may open the door but your first impression (verbal and non-verbal communications and outer image) will either let you take one step further or stop you cold. You do not have a second chance to make a good first impression.  So…prepare for your meeting in advance.  The face-to-face discussion is never the time or place to experiment. Avoid canned answers that don’t reflect your own personality and life experiences, rather, think carefully about how you would hit the ground running and give them what they’re looking for.

Attitude speaks louder than skill level and greatly impacts your success!  Get objective feedback from a friend or associate before you begin the discussion process.  This person should be someone who is supportive, not envious or critical, yet honest.  Personal frustrations and setbacks in your job or prospective client search can affect your voice and demeanor.  Avoid all signs of arrogance, abrasiveness or lack of interest.  Use positive phrases like “seeking more opportunity” rather than “no room for advancement.”  Boost your self-confidence and avoid excessive nervousness by being well prepared and by concentrating on all of your skills and abilities before you get there.  Avoid all negative remarks.  Be polite!  If this is your 20th interview, you still need to be positive (even if you have to fake it).  Take a deep breath and smile, which actually creates positive energy inside of you and is reflected in your eyes and demeanor.

Appearance:  The first impression is made in as little as seven seconds and includes your grooming, wardrobe and body language.  These non-verbal signals comprise 55% of your communication skills and prompt the company representative as to whether he/she would like to thoroughly discuss the position with you or quickly show you to the door.  Poor grooming suggests disorganization, low self-image, lack of attention to detail, and possibly, sloppiness in your work.  Positive, assertive body language and a firm handshake can make an immediate positive impression.  Hair, makeup and finger nails must be neat and well groomed as they also reflect on whether you take care of details and the quality (care) of your work.  Avoid chewing gum, smoking, drinking coffee, fidgeting or resting on your arm.  Sit back (your bottom touching back of chair) and lean slightly forward at the shoulders with engaging eye contact.  Purses belong on the floor.

AbilityBefore the meeting, answer key questions as they pertain to the specific position you are seeking or business opportunity you are offering them.  You must be prepared to present examples of relevant competencies and experiences you can provide them.  Include skills you used in organizations or volunteer work.  You must have at least 2-3 questions you can ask them about the company, position or opportunity.  Show your interest in them by knowing exactly what they do and how you could benefit them. Fill out any paperwork completely.  Yes, this can get “old” but it is necessary to treat each application like it is your number one priority.  Pick apart your qualifications and emphasize your strengths, skills and the level of responsibility you have held.  An administrative assistant could bring higher-end recognition to her/his skills by stating such experience as “managing the company’s database, supervising x number of staff, coordinating meetings with internal and external customers.”  Keep your conversations on track as it can become easy to get off point, possibly showing a lack of focus.

If asked about salary, state the amount you believe you deserve due to your experience and education. Always do your homework ahead of time by checking websites like to see what the range is for your area of the country. Let them know that with your experience and education, you are interested in their best possible offer. Send a handwritten “thank you” note immediately if you are interested in being hired. Try to include a pertinent article or something of interest and relevant to the company or the person you talked with. Restate your qualifications and your interest in joining their team! 

After you have finished your meeting, you may ask, “When may I expect to hear from you?” or be as bold as saying, “I would really like to work with you/provide you with innovative cost reduction techniques/etc., When would I  be able to start?”  If you begin to feel this may not be your cup of tea, state that you would like to think about it overnight.  Bottom line: 

Act enthusiastic and you’ll be enthusiastic!!

Rita Rocker, National Speaker, International Author, Consultant – Transformation Academy, 402-968-3250,