What happens before the interview is extremely important, although it’s often overlooked. Before you meet prospective employers, you often have indirect contact with those who know them. You might even contact the employer directly through e-mail, a phone call, or correspondence. Each of these contacts creates an impression.
There are three ways an interviewer may form an impression of you before meeting you face-to-face:
1. The interviewer already knows you. An employer may know you from previous contacts or from someone else’s description of you. In this situation, your best approach is to acknowledge that relationship, but treat the interview in all other respects as a business meeting.
2. You have contacted the interviewer through email or by phone. Email and the phone are important job search tools. How you handle these contacts creates an impression, even though the contacts are brief. For example, both contact via the phone and contact via email give an impression of your language skills and ability to present yourself in a competent way; email also quickly communicates your level of written communication skills. So if you set up an interview with the employer, you have already created an impression, most likely positive enough.
You should call the day before the interview to verify the time of your meeting. Say something like: “Hi, I want to confirm that our interview for two o’clock tomorrow is still on.” Get any directions you need. This kind of call is just another way of demonstrating your attention to detail and helps to communicate the importance you are placing on this interview.
3. The interviewer has read your resume and other job search correspondence. Prior to most interviews, you provide the employer with some sort of information or paperwork that creates an impression. Sending a note, letter, or email beforehand often creates the impression that you are well-organized. Applications, resumes, and other correspondence sent or emailed in advance help the interviewer know more about you. If they are well done, they will help to create a positive impression.