Q: I have been told that I am a finalist for a role. The company is my ideal company and my ideal job. I am very excited that I am a finalist. I was told “they are down to two” final candidates for the role. I know they are organizing final interview onsite for late March. If you can answer this question, before then, I would be most appreciative. How can I differentiate myself? I am very hopeful, but nervous too.
A: You may have already checked off these boxes. However, they are important, especially if the first round has been virtual.
- Research parking and your estimated travel time. The building may require certain IDs (e.g., a driver’s license or some type of picture ID) to access the building. Add extra time to the estimated travel time. Running late can contribute to your anxiety level. Snow and even a raindrop can wreak havoc with commuting. If you are running late, call/text and apologize. Offer an estimated arrival time if you are running late. Some candidates will test out the commute during the scheduled interview time. Specifically, they will schedule a trial commute to the interview destination before the scheduled interview, and ensure that they are aware of the time it requires to travel to the interview location. It is better to arrive early and enjoy a cup of coffee in the lobby, or check your phone outside vs. arriving late. Parking can also present challenges. What if your ideal parking garage is full? Plan an alternative.
- Dress the part. If you are pursuing a role in a law firm, your attire should be different than if you are pursuing a role at a tech start-up in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Avoid clothing which could distract from your capabilities. A flashy piece of jewelry or an unusual pair of shoes may catch the interviewer’s attention. You want the interviewed to focus on you, and your ability to fulfill the requirement of the role. Many career coaches suggest that you dress where you want to be, not necessarily the role of interest.
- Allow plenty of time for the interview. You may be asked to meet with others, which is encouraging. You want to make sure that your only answer is that you would like to meet others.
- Minimize interruptions. Turn off cell phone.
- Prepare questions for the interviewer.
- Finally, think about preparing a 30-60-90 plan. What is that? During the interview, one of your questions should have been asking what would be your important accomplishments in the first 90 days, if you were hired. Now, you have the content for your plan. Once you are told you are a finalist, your brain should immediately leap to the 30-60-90 plan. What is this? It is a 2–3-page document, which outlines what you plan to accomplish the first 90 days. This plan may not be perfect, but it differentiates you from other final candidates.
- You probably know this, but make sure that you send a thank-you email to each interviewer. Many interviewers notice this step.
Finally good luck!
Pattie Hunt Sinacole is a human resources expert and works for First Beacon Group in Hopkinton, an HR consulting firm. She contributes weekly to Boston.com Jobs and the Boston Sunday Globe Money & Careers section.