The impression you make on a prospective employer begins long before you walk through his door. From the first moment you speak with him, he’s evaluating your professionalism, enthusiasm and communication skills. When you reply to an employer’s invitation for an interview, take as much care as you would when speaking with him in person.
Don’t make interview plans unless you’re prepared and can talk. If you’re driving, for example, ask the employer if you call him back later in the day. If an employer emails you or leaves you a voice mail message, reply as soon as possible. Ideally you should get back to him by the end of the day, but if you can’t, take no more than 24 hours to follow up. If you wait, he may assume you’re not seriously interested in the position. Reply using the method the interviewer used. If he called, call him. If he sent an email, respond to him the same way.
Schedule a Meeting
Ask the employer how long he expects the interview to take and what days he plans to meet with applicants. Strive to find a time that works well with your schedule and his. Don’t accept an appointment for the next day if you know it will be difficult to take off work or if you need additional time to prepare. If you can’t accept the employer’s first suggestion, explain why, offer an alternative and ask if the time fits into his interviewing and hiring timeline. Also, aim for a time when you know you’ll be at your best. For instance, if you’re a morning person, ask to come in as early as possible.
This is your last opportunity to speak with the employer before meeting him in person, so inquire about anything you need to help you be prepared. Ask him if he needs you to bring anything, such as work samples or copies of certifications or other credentials. Also ask about the structure of the interview, for example if you’ll interview with several people, tour the facility or meet your prospective colleagues. This demonstrates that you take the interview process seriously and want to perform your best when you meet with the employer.
Always verify every detail of the appointment when you schedule it. End the call or email with a sentence such as “I look forward to seeing you Thursday at 9 a.m. at Taylor Industries’ corporate headquarters. I’ll bring my portfolio and list of references as you requested.” If there’s anything you’re not sure of, clear up the confusion right then. While you may worry about looking foolish, you’ll make a far worse impression if you show up at the wrong time, the wrong place or not prepared.