Your resume and conversation skills have gotten you this far: the onsite interview. Stepping out from behind your resume and the comfortable distance of a phone conversation can be daunting, but the good news is you’ve already made a great first impression. Now, it’s all about distinguishing yourself from any others who may have also made it to this coveted next round. It’s a chance at a second first impression and a chance to show this employer that you’re not only qualified for the job, but that you will fit right in once you’re in the role. Here are some tips to nail this second first impression and make it difficult for any employer to turn down your candidacy.

Dress for success.

“Dress for the job you want, not the job you have.” You’ve heard it before, but what does this actually mean when it comes to choosing an outfit for an interview? Sometimes it means getting out of your comfort zone. Even if your impression from the job description and phone interview is that the day-to-day dress code for the role is an informal one, this should not be the case for an interview. This is your first visual impression–make it count! Show your future employer that you take this opportunity seriously. A good rule of thumb is to suit up. Guys, you can always leave out the tie if you’re convinced of the informal vibe of your future workplace. Basically, it is difficult to reach “overdressed” status for a job interview, but very easy to fall into “sloppy and under dressed” territory. Now, the “suit up” rule does not mean layer on all the accessories you have–the idea behind a well-fitting suit or suit/skirt is that it makes you look clean, sharp, and confident. Any excessive aftershave, perfume, jewelry, makeup, etc. will undermine this goal. Make your confidence and natural features shine through. Read our Making a Positive First Impression blog to make sure you’re feeling 100% confident about your look by interview time.

Give yourself a refresher on the company profile and job description.

Even before deciding what to wear, the most important pre-onsite interview step is to research all you can about the company and the role. This will also help you prepare pointed questions for the interviewers ahead of time–you don’t want to ask them a question about the company that could easily be found on their website, for example. Some questions you should investigate beforehand (or, if you don’t find the answers, during the interview) are:

  • What are the company’s values? Do they have a mission statement?
  • What does a day in the life of an employee in this role look like?
  • What range of products/services do they provide?
  • How is this company different from competitors?

The last tip is to write the questions you could not answer through research down–you may want to get answers to some of them during your on-site interview or later interviews. With the information you do find, find a few key points you want to bring up in the on-site interview, so you can show off how well you researched the company and the role. Again, it’s all about showing how seriously you take this opportunity.

Have a thank you email drafted in advance.

Don’t wait to send a thank you email to the interviewer–have one already drafted before the interview. Then, add in a personal touch with something he or she mentioned or something from a conversation you both had during the interview–it could be about the office’s cool layout, your shared love of basketball, or just something that really excited you about the interview experience. This shows that you were engaged in the process and it adds an additional connection between you and at least one of the decision makers.

Bring resumes…then more resumes.

It won’t hurt to have extras–you never know who could join in on the interview process and you’ll want to impress as many people as you can!

Play the name game.

According to Dale Carnegie, author of How to Win Friends and Influence People, “A person’s name is to him or her the sweetest and most important sound in any language.” When meeting anyone during your onsite interview, it’s important to find a natural way to repeat their name back to them during introductions. This demonstrates your commitment to getting to know them. Bonus: it helps you remember their name for later. Once you’re confident you’ve got the name right, use that person’s name in conversation during the interview or when saying your goodbyes. When all is said and done, using a person’s name at some point during  the beginning, middle, and end of a first meeting makes them feel…good. And people tend to remember how you made them feel rather than what you said or did.

Do something to stand out (bring food).

Following the basic guidelines above will more than likely make you stand out from the crowd, but if you’re up against some stiff competition, you may need to pull out all the stops. If you’re a talented baker, make some muffins for an AM interview. If you’re not, swing by Krispy Kreme on the way there (still make sure you’re at least 5 minutes early!). Or, share the favorite local dish of wherever you’re from. Either way, you’re going the extra mile and giving the interviewers a chance to “break bread” with you. Plus, everyone likes the guy or girl who brings tasty treats to the office.

Be you.

Your personality and qualifications have gotten you this far, so just be yourself. Don’t forget to smile, stay positive, and show enthusiasm, but stay true to you.