Your Personal Brand – Five Ideas for the Job Interview

Part 2 – The Job Interview

In Part 1 I discussed creating your personal brand and strategy as you are applying for work as well as tips for phone interviews and creating your personal brand. Remember, you are building and presenting your personal brand during your search. Do everything you can leave a great impression.

This post talks about the in-person interview. And while these may seem obvious, I am writing this based on the experience I have had interviewing candidates. Again I have been surprised by the appearance of and conversation with some candidates.

Receiving a call to schedule an in-person interview is an accomplishment. Your brand representation has gone from paper to the real thing. Now is the time to really prepare and represent yourself in the best way possible. More than anything you need to be your authentic self. I realize if you have been out of work, you want a job – but experience and fit are important. This is your opportunity to show your expertise and how you will fit within the organization.

  1. Take the time to prepare – Review the job posting. Prepare some questions so you can be pro-active during the interview. Review the organizations website. Think about if you were in the job, what might you do or ask questions about where they want the work to go. I have had candidates who had no questions and their responses were so off base, I was not sure we were talking about the same job, despite a phone interview.
  2. Dress and groom for the job – Be professional – If you have on suit or professional outfit, this is the time to get it cleaned and wear it. Make sure your hair and if appropriate make up is in the right place. Showing up looking disheveled does your brand no good. I realize Chicago is the Windy City – arrive early enough to check yourself in the bathroom mirror before the interview. Most of the jobs I work on have some element of public contact and if candidates can’t pull themselves together for an interview – how will they dress for a public event and represent the agency?
  3. Arrive early or on time – Arriving 10-15 minutes before an interview is appropriate. Showing up 30-45 minutes before is not. You are likely to interrupt the work of staff who may be a part of the interview process. What do you want them to do? Babysit for the next 30 minutes? Go have a cup of coffee if you arrive that early. In addition you may make it awkward for others being interviewed and the staff. It is unlikely there are two doors for candidates to enter and exit and often interviews are booked on the same day with time in between meetings – but not if you show up too early. It sets a bad tone for the interview – as a staff member would you be as inconsiderate of the time of colleagues?
  4. Send a thank you note or email after the interview – An email is appropriate. Hard copy is appreciated but not necessary. Please do this on a timely basis. If you wait too long, the decision may have been made. I know the groups I worked with look at this as a measure of the person. Showing thanks is something we do all the time – and we want to know the candidate does this on their own – again reflecting their own brand.
  5. The decline email – If you receive the email saying it isn’t a good fit but wishing you the best, don’t send a curt email asking why, who was hired or if you could be reconsidered. None of those builds your network or does your brand any good. No matter what your field of expertise, it’s a small world. Burning your bridges never helps anyone. And the response at the organization, is, “Aren’t we glad we didn’t hire them!” or “How would they be to work with?!”

Prepare your personal brand. Put your best foot forward. Be your authentic self – the right job for the right person at the right organization is always the best solution – rather than hiring someone or taking a job that results in a separation in the first 90 days.

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2 thoughts on “Your Personal Brand – Five Ideas for the Job Interview

  1. I’ve read that it can be helpful to speak to the hiring manager to determine why a candidate did not get a position. Rather than a negative approach, one could ask: “What qualities did the winning candidate have that resulted in an offer?”

    1. Mark,
      Thanks for your comment and question.

      I think that is a touchy subject and in this litigious society, recruiters are probably not going to offer that information on the candidate who got the job or why another did not.


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