Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Interviewing your best – presentation

Author: Bob Priddy

In the previous article, we talked about “preparation” for your interview and the value of developing effective materials, both those presented in writing and verbally. In this second installment on interviewing, the focus is packaging and presentation. Recognizing that fully 60 percent of how you are perceived is non-verbal, your presentation and packaging is of utmost importance.

Beginning at the beginning, the late Mark McCormick, founder of IMG and author of “What they don’t teach you at the Harvard Business School,” states about your attire that the only thing anyone should notice about your business suit is that it fits. In other words, understatement is de rigueur. In my eBook, “Creating the roadmap to your new career,” I recommend Brooks Brothers’ book, “A gentleman gets dressed up.” Unfortunately, Brooks Brothers doesn’t offer a similar tome for women, but the guidelines are the same, dark suit, plain shirt and a tie/scarf of solid color.

Today, more and more workplaces allow quite casual attire, but during an interview, you want to show that you know how to dress, and that in a client or other more formal setting, you can present yourself well. I personally recall showing up for an interview at a rather large office complex and being greeted at the front desk with, “Mr. Priddy, I presume?” I was initially surprised that among all the people coming and going that morning I could be singled out so easily. When I noted this occurance to the person leading my interview he simply said, “I told her to be on the look out for someone in a suit.”

Timing is an element of your presentation, so once you’re properly dressed, plan on arriving between 10 and 15 minutes early. This allows you time to park, find the office, and be received by the receptionist or administrative assistant. It also allows time for any personal needs and the opportunity to simply not be rushed.

From the point of entry forward make note of the name of each person you meet, and if possible record their names and assumed positions for later reference if needed. To the person serving as your interviewer’s gatekeeper, identify yourself, state that you’re there for an interview at “what time” with Mr/Ms “name,” and that you know you are a few minutes early. At the same time, offer the person your business card.

Now, why… you specify the time of your interview because others may also be interviewing and you want to make sure you’re in the correct slot. You state you know you’re early so you don’t appear to be trying to rush anyone else. You offer your business card to be sure the person clearly understands who you are and because it confers a certain level of respect to that person.

Next, be prepared. In the previous article I noted the importance of multiple resumes, of at least two pens, and a pad, preferably in a smart portfolio, upon which to shield your “expanded” resume and to take notes. Have your materials ready so upon entering the office of your interviewer you’re ready to talk, not to shuffle through a briefcase or portfolio trying to get ready.

When you enter, extend your hand, and offer a solid but not vice-like handshake, introduce yourself and stand until your interviewer takes his/her seat.

Body language and posture are too often overlooked, but here are the basic rules. Begin sitting with your feet flat, then observe the posture of the person with whom you’re speaking. Emulate their posture up to the point of not appearing too relaxed. In other words, if they cross their legs, you may cross yours. If they remain very straight and rigid, so should you. If they lean towards you when they speak, do the same when you speak. It may sound like you’re mimicking them, but you’re not – at least not if you do it with a certain amount of composure and discretion.

Some common physical cues: leaning forward when someone speaks to you connotes respect and interest. Folding your hands, as if in prayer, when someone speaks to you connotes respect and thoughtfulness. Likewise, nodding in agreement is generally perceived as positive reinforcement for what someone is saying. Just don’t nod constantly or you look like the turn signal dog in the rear window of a car (if you’re too young to know what I’m talking about just take my word). When crossing your legs, cross at the knee, not the ankle. Crossing your leg towards the person shows inclusion whereas away from them is “closing them out.” Don’t fold your arms across your chest – that, again, is “closing out” or implying disagreement with the other person. Keep you hands in your lap except when you’re using them to illustrate a point, and then simply don’t waive about too flamboyantly. Don’t point.

Upon your departure collect any materials at your side or on a desk (never put your materials or briefcase on their desk) or table, extend your hand again, thank them and depart. As you leave the “area,” thank Mr/Ms “receptionist/admin” (this is why you note everyone’s name), and depart. Another reason for learning everyone’s name is when your interviewer says, “Ask John to set up another interview before you leave,” you’ll know which person is “John.”

This information covers a basic interview. There are more specific tips for group interviews, and interviews involving meals. In my eBook, I cover all of these, and you can request a free copy simply by emailing me at

About the author:

Since 2002, Bob Priddy has coached, counseled and advised more than 900 physicians seeking non-clinical career transitions or restructured clinical practices; and he is President of third_Evolution, Non Clinical Careers for Physicians. Prior to third_Evolution, he served in physician practice management and consulting roles on both a local and national level, in senior health system administrative and operational positions with four health systems in the East and Midwest, as well as in senior administrative, marketing and product management positions with leading healthcare IT and marketing firms. Bob is an entrepreneur who knows Physicians, healthcare, and nonclinical industries. His coaching and advising approach is outcomes-based centered on the concepts of Focus, knowing what you want to do; Package, having the right materials to represent your career search or your new business venture; and Process, developing and implementing a logical strategy for your success. Read about him here.

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