In my last column, I provided techniques on how to make a lasting impression on an employer through the most difficult medium — a phone screen. Now, how do you breeze by your competition in a face-to-face or on-site interview? That heady word: “preparation.” 

Get the ball rolling right away. Ask who your interview panel is. Chances are that 75 percent of individuals listed will be searchable on professional networking sites such as or Nine times out of 10, they’ve listed their entire work history, education and how long they’ve been working for their current company. Don’t have an account? Get one — it’s free and easy to use.

Study, study, study. Do news feed searches and check press releases… how is the company being portrayed by the media? Memorize core values and mission statements. Over prepare with potential behavioral and situational interview questions. Your ability to interview face-to-face is a stronger determinant of gaining an offer. Unlike a phone interview, it’s not open book. Know your stuff. 

Always stay positive, but humble. Present yourself as an adult and be professional. It was cool in college to say “Yeah man, that’s chill. Totally.” Just don’t ever talk like that in an interview, dude.

Here are some things to keep by your side in a nifty interview binder — having these at arm’s length shows an employer you came fully prepared. Just remember to put all these documents together in advance, not the morning of the interview when you’re out of paper because your roommate used the rest to print his/her final essay and totally cleaned you out.

1. Stapled in order: Cover letter, resume and list of references.
2. Highlights of your work and academic history.
3. Blank paper.
4. Pen or pencil.
5. List of questions for the employer.
6. Your market research (for pre-interview review).

Now that you’ve properly prepared, here are some tips on successfully moving through an actual interview. In general, the more you interview, the more comfortable you’ll be. Learn from past interviews to go into present ones with action steps. 

— Arrive 10 minutes early. You’ll use that time to fill out an application, sign an NDA (Non-Disclosure Agreement) or read over your interview material.
— Check out the ‘company culture.’ Do they have a ‘Google mentality’? Or is it a corporate sales role where you’ll meet with clients daily? I once interviewed for a position in a full suit where they had a lax dress code. I didn’t get the job.
— Manners could land you the job (read The Power of Nice by Linda Kaplan Thaler and Robin Koval). Shake everyone’s hand and greet them with a heartfelt smile and positive attitude. You never know if the delivery driver is married to the manager who is about to interview you (this happened at my work).
— During the interview, take notes. That being said, eye contact and expressions of interest are always appreciated. Come with challenging questions (i.e.: “What is your hiring timeline?” Or “What type of attitude is typical of your most successful new hires?”).
— Show genuine interest. Problem solving skills, ability to be flexible and thirst for learning while showcasing your ability to bring new qualifications to the table are always a plus for an employer to see.
— Two things you should never do: Be the first to bring up pay and bad mouth an old bosshole. The former is always brought forth by the employer, while the latter is common sense.
— For pay, say you’re flexible. If you’ve done your research on salary trends (,, you should know to highball your worth — while still being humble as an entry-level employee.
I recently met with an old manager who was filling an admin position; out of the 40 individuals who applied, only one was elected for an on-site interview. The reason? Because other candidates were not prepared. Utilizing these steps prior to your interview will impress your panel and show you’ve, once again, done your homework.