You’ve gotten the interview, now what….

Congratulations! TrainingPros or some other staffing agency has called you and asked you to interview with one of their clients. Newer consultants might think that the job is in the bag because their resume is a good match. However, seasoned consultants know that the interview is only an opportunity to “sell” themselves as a perfect fit for the project.

This post is for anyone that needs some tips on turning that interview into a consulting offer.

Tip #1: – Get the Details

Ask a lot of questions about the project and the client. Find out as many specifics about the work you could potentially be doing as possible. Find out details about the client, the corporate culture, the work environment, etc…  Ask the recruiter that called you – he or she wants you to win on the interview.

Tip #2 – Research

Research the company. Look up the company on Google and LinkedIn. Find out what they provide as a business. Read their “About Us” section on their website. Read their most recent Press Releases. Find out if you know anyone that knows anyone at the company. (Linked In is a great way to do this.)

If the company has retail locations – go visit one! If it’s a restaurant – order and eat the food. If it’s a clothing store examine the clothes and try some on. Get some sort of experience with the client that you can mention on the interview.

Research or “Google” the person or persons who will be interviewing you. (Linked In is a great tool for this too.) This person may have written an article that you might be able to somehow work into your interview.  Also, the interviewer may have attended the same college you did or may be a marathon runner just like yourself. You want to try to connect with your interviewer, but be subtle.

Tip #3 – Customize

Have you done similar projects in the past? If so, get some portfolio samples together that show you off. Make sure your evidence proves that you can do this project. If you’re a facilitator, get a glowing letter from a client for which you delivered a course on that topic. The consultant with the prepared portfolio looks professional.

Putting together some targeted examples or references has a second effect beyond matching your skill set to the project: it makes the client know that you’re willing to go the extra mile.

Tip#4 – Be On Time

I can’t say this enough – Be On Time! Consultants that are late for interviews are rarely ever offered a contract by a client. Being late shows a lack of respect for the interviewer’s time as well as a potential ongoing problem if you were to be hired.

I know that Atlanta traffic can be really rough sometimes….but so do you! Leave in plenty of time to allow for an unusual traffic jam. I generally try to arrive 30 minutes early for a client appointment. If I don’t run into trouble – I read in the parking lot. If I do – then lucky me! I was going to be early anyway so now I’ll just be on time.

Map out the route to the interview ahead of time. If it’s an area of town with which you are unfamiliar you should drive to the interview a day early. This will make sure that no tricky interchanges or difficult to see signs foil your interview.

Tip #5 – Take Phone Numbers

Take the recruiter’s phone number and the interviewer’s number with you in the car. This way, if the worst happens, you can call us. If you don’t have the interviewer’s phone number then take the main office number.

Tip #6 – Dress Professionally

If khaki’s are your signature dress you may be in trouble. Interviewers assume that you’re putting your best foot forward for the interview. If your “best” is khaki’s, what will you look like on a bad day?

If you’re a woman, wear a nice blouse and slacks or a skirt. A suit jacket is always a good addition and you can take it off if it’s too formal once you get there.

If you’re a man, you can’t go wrong with a suit and tie. Many companies still require male associates to wear ties every day.


Tip #7 – Turn the Cell Phone Off

There is nothing worse than feeling confident that you’re doing great in an interview and then having your cell phone go off playing that funny new ring tone you downloaded. Just turn it off before you go in.

Tip #8 – Keep It Professional

You are there to win a project. Stay away from jokes, politics, personal information, or religion. While these may be really important to you, you might find yourself offending your interviewer. Stick to the project and your experience.

Tip #9 – Prepare for Scenario Based Questions

Today’s interviewers are prepared. They will ask you how you have approached specific problems in the past. They will give you a scenario and ask how you would handle it. Based on what you learned in Tip #1 you should be able to anticipate some of these questions.

Tip #10 – Bring a Notepad

What if you “wow” the interview in the first 10 minutes and she wants to move right into the information about the project?  That would be ideal – if you have brought something to write on!  Bring a fresh notepad to every consulting interview. 

Tip #11 – Bring Your Resume

Bring extra copies of your resume. There may be a manager or potential co-worker that may not have received a copy of your resume.

Tip #12 – Never, ever, ever speak negatively about anyone

Here are some major blunders I’ve seen:

  • criticizing work samples that were done by the interviewer
  • criticizing your past boss
  • criticizing other consultants
  • speaking negatively about your last work environment

This sends a message to the interviewer that you’ll be critical, negative, and generally unhappy at work.

Tip #13 – Be Confident

Walk into the interview knowing you are the right candidate. All you have to do is make sure the interviewer can clearly see that you have the skills, experience, and attitude that’s right for the job.

Tip #14 – Don’t Babble

Answer the questions, offer to show samples of work, and be polite. If there is 15 seconds or so of silence after you’ve answered a question it’s OK. You don’t have to fill every moment with talking. The interviewer may simply be digesting what you’ve just said.

Tip #15 – Make Eye Contact

You don’t have to stare at the interviewer, but make eye contact when you are speaking directly to him or her.

Follow all these tips to “wow” your interviewer. If you’re a good match and follow all of these tips then you’ll be well on your way to a new contract.

2 Responses to “You’ve gotten the interview, now what….”
  1. Kate Tunison says:

    Nice list Leighanne.

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