The moment when you are called and invited to a job interview is often your first real contact with an employer. Often, it will be a receptionist and not the interviewer who calls to schedule the interview. Do keep in mind though, that people are making decisions about your suitability for that job at each stage of the hiring process, so do take steps to make a great first impression at this stage of your job search.
1. Determine approximately how long the interview will be.
Simply say to the receptionist something like, “How long should I set aside for the interview?" That way you can avoid scheduling other obligations too soon after the interview. Also, be sure to set aside more time than you're told. Interviews often run a bit late or go long, so if you're told the interview will be thirty minutes, be sure to clear your schedule for at least an hour.
2. Get the names of your interviewer(s).
Simply ask, “Who will be interviewing me?" Be sure to make a note of the name(s) of the person or people who will be interviewing you and bring that note to your job interview. Asking for this information is helpful for two reasons:
It will help you to avoid the awkwardness of forgetting the interviewer's name. This happens to almost everyone, particularly in stressful situations; someone introduces themselves, and you immediately forget their name. If you've written the interviewer's name down ahead of time, you'll have it right there in writing, so you won't forget.
Also, this strategy is an easy way to find out whether you will be having a panel interview. If the receptionist mentions only one name, you'll most likely be having a one to one interview. If, however, the receptionist lists the names of three people who will be interviewing you, you'll know that your interview will be with a panel, and you can mentally prepare for that type of interview.
3. It's fine to ask for the company name if you don't have that information.
This awkward situation can arise when someone calls to invite you to a job interview without mentioning the name of the company. You may hesitate to ask the name of the company out of fear that a question like that will make a bad impression. However, if you have applied to several jobs and you're not sure which one this is, or as is often the case, the employer did not post the company name in the job advertisement, it's fine to say something like, “I don't believe the company name was noted in the job advertisement. . . " and then simply ask for the name of the company.
Typically in a situation like this, they are not testing you, they are just thinking of things from their perspective and not yours, so they have simply forgotten that you don't know the name of the company.
4. Be sure to get the correct date, time and location of the interview.
Write down all of this information as it is relayed to you and repeat it back to the receptionist to ensure it's correct.
5. Be friendly, professional and polite.
The person who calls to schedule your interview may not have the authority to hire you, but often everyone you have contact with during the interview process will be asked to provide input on your suitability for the job. Be sure to put your best foot forward at each point of contact with the company.
6. Ask what you should bring to the job interview.
If the receptionist indicates that there is nothing in particular that you should bring, be sure to come prepared with extra copies of job search documents such as your resume, cover letter, diplomas, job performance reviews, reference letters, and your reference sheet. Also bring a professional looking portfolio or folder to carry everything, a couple of pens and a pad of paper for making notes.
7. Try to go last, or near the end of the interviews if you're given a choice of several interview times.
The last person interviewed is often the one who is remembered best. Also, interviewers often get better at interviewing for a particular job as they go through several candidates.
Particularly if you will be dealing with someone who doesn't have a lot of experience interviewing job candidates (which is common), the interviewers will ask better questions as they go through the process. For example, they may not ask the first candidate specifically about certain skills that are important, and therefore they may assume that person doesn't have those skills if they are not discussed in the interview. As the interviewers realize this, they will ask about those things in subsequent interviews.
Remember these tips to make a great first impression when you're invited to your next job interview. This is your first real contact with someone from the company. Make sure it is positive!
Lisa McGrimmon is a career writer who has helped over two thousand clients achieve their career goals. Visit her site, Career Choice Guide for more tips on preparing for a job interview .