On-Site Interview - How to Present Yourself

Presenting yourself in person can be a daunting experience and mastering the job interview process is critical if you are going to be successful.

If you have been invited for a face to face interview, your resume and possibly your phone interview clearly already made an impression with the potential employer. As you have got this far, it is important to make sure you present yourself well in the interview. This is your first chance to impress.

Now that you’ve got the face to face interview it is important that you go over the job description that would have been sent to you by the recruitment agent or employer direct. You should review this with a fine-tooth comb as this is the framework that the employer will use to gage your further suitability for the role. Pay close attention to this document as some of the key questions associated with your interview will be in there. Pay attention to job duties—this is a list of the employer’s needs and minimum requirements.

For each duty, identify a skill that the employer is asking for. For example, if the job duty is “guest relations assistances” related skills may include:

  • identifying organizational need for guest relations assistances
  • preparing and drafting guest relations assistances position descriptions
  • advertising and marketing the guest relations assistances opportunities
  • communicating with guest relations assistances
  • selecting guest relations assistances

You get the drift - each skill required and an associated duty.

Your task, as the job candidate, is to prepare a short interesting story, real incident or situation about a specific time that you used these skills and explain how they will be useful in the new job.

Ways to get ready for the big day

Now all you need to do is make sure you’re fully prepared for the big day. Remember you only get one chance to make a first impression.

Do your research on the organization you have applied to work for.

Nothing is more annoying for a recruiter or an employer than when interviewing candidates who know nothing about the company that they said they are passionate about joining. If this is how you prepare then you are going to get the red card and the interview will not last long. This does nothing to show your motivation to work for the company if you do no research and cannot even answer basic questions about the property, whether it be a hotel or restaurant.

If you want the job make sure you use the tools to hand and do some research.

Make sure you at least know the following:

  • Detailed overview of the property and its history as well as details of the brands etc.
  • Companies position in the market place, head count and estimated turnover in the department or property.
  • Who are their direct and indirect competitors - are you working for them?
  • Market position – is it the market leader? What’s the public saying about the property?
  • Current media news on the property - good or bad?

What is their mission? How does it distinguish itself from others working on similar issues or with similar clientele? What is the geographic scope of the organization? How is it funded? What buzz words do you notice when you read the organization’s website?

Be able to show the interviewer that you have taken an interest in the company and not just the job. This will immediately impress them. No recruiter wants to present or represent an employee who simply works to get paid and isn’t interested in the business.

Mystery shopper or go undercover

Pay your prospective employer a visit as a customer before the interview, but don’t let on that it’s you or that you are going to do this. We highly recommend doing this, not only because it’s a useful exercise, but you will also get the chance to see the department you are applying to join or to lead.

Seeing the business from the customer eyes. This gives you a great perspective on what is expected of you as an employee and what they would possible change and improvements the employer is likely to want to improve. Plus the process also gives you a good insight into the business’s strengths and weaknesses in general

If you do get to visit the property prior to the interview, pay particular attention to:

  • Overall levels of service 
  • Overall appearance of staff 
  • Appearance of the property 

It’s bad form to criticise the company at an interview and will most likely not lead to you securing the job, but if you can bring some fresh ideas and constructive criticism on how you might do things differently and improve things the chances are they will like this and latch on to is as a positive aspect going forward. Word of advice - do not make promises you cannot deliver. 

Directions and location of interview

Print off directions to the venue and make sure you know exactly how you’re going to get there, be it by car, bus, tube, train or plane, and how long it will take. We recommend giving yourself an extra 30- 45 minute for delays or getting lost. If you arrive early you can always grab a coffee beforehand, but there is nothing worse than being late as you will now more than likely be anxious and stressed – this is not the best start to an interview setting.

Put together what you need for the interview

Don’t leave bag-packing to the last minute. Prepare your interview tools the night before the big day:

  • Tissues or a handkerchief
  • Copies of your resume and work samples and portfolio
  • Breath mints (not gum)
  • Bottle of water
  • Directions including address, parking information, suite or office number, floor number, and contact information including name and phone number (but keep your phone on silent during the interview, or better yet, just turn it off!)
  • Notes (talking points, anecdotes, questions)
  • Note paper and pen to take notes if you need to

First impressions count

It goes without saying that appearances at an interview count for a lot. So dress smartly, cleanly and conservatively – this isn’t the time to experiment with that daring new look.

Call the company and ask for the agenda of the interview. You may be given a tour of the kitchens or grounds, so make sure your clothes can stand humidity or a trip outdoors.

Make sure you’re ready, then relax

Preparation is king - fail to prepare, prepare to fail. There is only so much you can blag. If you really want the job, put the time and the effort in to secure it. Do not leave it to the last minute as you’re not going to secure the role on a quick flick over the internet the night before your interview. Then do whatever relaxes you, but avoid that temptation of a night of alcohol fuelled entertainment. Above all, get an early night! 

The big day has arrived

The next morning when you wake, all the preparation should be done. So all you should have to do is get ready and mill over some simulations and questions in your head.

Have a final scan over any notes you’ve made on the way. It is always good practice to refresh and crystallise the mind. Your brain needs to switch off now before the onslaught happens.

Finally, it goes without saying that stains on your clothing, food in your teeth or cigarette or garlic breath is not going to endear you to the employer so check yourself thoroughly before you leave and then once again before you meet your interviewer.

Be your professional self, do not pretend to be someone you are not

The Interview

Firm hand shake (Unless you are meeting, or you are, a Muslin woman) and a polite pleasant greeting. Then keep your composure and go with the flow. When you sit, sit comfortably but do not slouch.

  • Walk into the interview confidently.
  • Shake your interviewer's hand.
  • Smile and be pleasant when you first meet your interviewer.
  • Make eye contact with your interviewer.
  • Introduce yourself right away.
  • Stick to your talking points.
  • Stay positive.

Pay attention to the signals that your body language and eye contact send to the hiring team. It’s okay to be a little nervous (and even to show it—it means you care!). But try to relax and be yourself. Let your personality shine so that the hiring team glimpses who you truly are. If you have a sense of humour, use it to chuckle (appropriately, of course) or express an idea occasionally.

Your hiring manager may ask questions that seem trivial—for example, questions about a foreign country mentioned on your resume, or about pets. In fact they may be attempting to get to know you better on a personal level, to find out whether you will be someone they’d like to see everyday.

Figure out how to answer common interview questions

Here are a few:

  • Tell me about yourself.  Don’t assume the hiring team remembers the details of your resume; summarize your accomplishments, work, and passions in a few key sentences.
  • Why do you want to work for our organization?
  • Why do you want this position?
  • What are your strengths and weaknesses?
  • Can you tell us about a time you used the skills necessary in this position?

We have attached a more inept question you could be asked have a look at it ( hyperlink)

Prepare your own questions

Just like a limp handshake, a one-sided interview is no fun. The hiring team wants to hear your questions and see that you’re actively engaged in learning more about the organization and position.

  • When you research the organization and position, write down unanswered questions that arise for you and ask them during the interview.
  • Ask about the context and history of the position, what daily tasks and activities are involved, how the position is managed, what the rest of the hiring process looks like, and anything else you’re curious about.

Plan to ask the most important questions.

  • How does the open position help the organization fulfil its mission, this should be asked at the early as possible opportunity during the interview?

During interview you should avoid asking questions that cast doubt on your understanding of the position.

A few other interview dos and don’ts

  • DO arrive a few minutes early
  • DO remember the names of the hiring team
  • DO ask for clarification if you don’t understand a question
  • DO answer the questions you’re asked as best you can, and ask whether you answered sufficiently if you’re unsure
  • DO pause if you need time to think
  • DO send a thank-you note or email as soon as possible that addresses specific and relevant issues you discussed during the interview
  • DON’T assume the hiring team remembers your resume
  • DON’T talk incessantly
  • DON’T discuss salary and benefits if you can avoid it (till you get the job offer)
  • DON’T beg for the job
  • DON’T wear strong scents
  • DON’T dress or behave too casually

Closing points

At the end of the interview, there will most likely be a chance to make a closing statement with your final ‘pitch’ – make sure you seize it. Keep it short and sweet, but highlight how your skills and experience make you a perfect fit for the job and will help the organisation solve its challenges and achieve its goals. Regardless of your style or how you choose to close the interview, there are some key points to keep in mind:

Don’t be shy about expressing how enthusiastic you are about the role. It’s likely that everyone interviewing for the position has the necessary skills and this is your last chance to demonstrate you’re hungrier than the other applicants. Leave your interviewer with the right picture of you. Before the interview concludes ask if there is anything else you can provide, such as references, background information or work samples.

This may sound obvious but make sure your advise them of your interest in the position. Don't be overly anxious, but act interested. Remember to mention the added value you can bring to the job.

Ask about the next step in the process. It's important for you to know the next step so you can follow up. Ask when they hope to have a candidate in place by.

Find out how they will contact you – directly, or via a recruiter if that is how you got the referral.

A little friendly chit-chat at the end of an interview doesn’t go astray, and it’s good to finish on a friendly, personal note. Always thank the interviewer for their time, and smile and shake their hand before leaving.

Post-interview protocol

Within 24 hours of the interview taking place, send your interviewer a brief, polite email thanking them for meeting with you and restating your interest in the position. You can reference highlights from the interview or briefly touch on anything you feel you missed during the interview, but keep it short.

Aside from the thank you email, it’s best not to bother your potential employer with phone calls or emails before the timeframe they have specified. However, if they don’t get back to you by that date don’t hesitate to follow up – potential employers are more likely to be impressed by an eager job applicant, provided you don’t go overboard.

Regardless of the outcome of your interview, your response should always be polite gratitude. If you do get a second interview, or are even offered the job, you’ll want to get off to a good start by letting your new employer know how much you appreciate the faith they’ve shown in you.

If you don’t get the job, you still want to make sure you’re at the top of their mind should another position become available or should the first-choice candidate not work out.

Take time to review your interview performance

As soon as possible after the interview, reflect on your interview performance. Consider what went well, what didn’t, what you would have done differently and make a note of these. Jot down specific points from the interview you wish to remember for future reference, or questions you might like to ask at a later opportunity.

Also, catch up with your recruiter or the HR manager and ask for honest feedback. Remember that every interview is a learning opportunity that brings you one step closer to your dream job.