There’s an old saying in the theatre: “Your audition starts the moment you walk through the door.” It means people begin forming a perception of you the second they begin interacting with you, even if you’re not technically “on” yet. This same adage holds true in a job interview — but the interview begins even before it’s scheduled.
How you handle the logistics involved in planning and scheduling an interview may seem outside of the scope of the interview itself, but it can colour how the interviewer views you, even before you’ve launched into a litany of your strengths and experience. So what can you do to put yourself in a position to succeed before you’ve even walked through the door?
Be generous with your availability. A little flexibility goes a long way. When scheduling the interview, offer up as broad a range of available dates and times to the interviewers as possible. It’s understandable if you have the constraints of your own work schedule to work around, but finding windows beyond early mornings or late afternoons will put you in a good light with the prospective hiring manager. If you can avoid it, don’t offer lunchtime as your only availability — you don’t want to have to try to make a good impression on someone who keeps glancing over at their sandwich.
Be courteous to the person scheduling the interview — even if they aren’t the hiring manager. Even though they won’t be the one making the decision to hire you, the way you treat the person coordinating the interview will get noticed. Being kind to the coordinator certainly won’t get you the job all on its own, but being rude to them sure could make you lose it. Who has ever been worse off treating people with kindness?
Make sure they have all the paperwork they need. Make sure you’ve sent over all of the necessary paperwork before the interview has begun. You don’t want to be in a situation where you’re awkwardly waiting around on a Zoom call because your interviewer is waiting to receive a PDF of your resume. If you’re referencing previous work, make sure your portfolio is in their hands. Yes, you most likely uploaded all of this information when applying for the job — but it can’t hurt to save them a step by including it in any email correspondence. They may even be impressed by your attention to detail.
Don’t be afraid to ask clarifying questions. If you have a question about what the interview will entail, how long it may last, or who you’ll be speaking to, ask it. The chances of you looking silly are small (certainly compared to the chances you’ll look sillier if you walk into an interview unprepared because you didn’t ask the right questions ahead of time). As you don’t overdo it — so try to ask all of your questions in a single, concise email, rather than peppering them with multiple followups — they’ll appreciate your curiosity. Don’t lose out on a job opportunity because you were too nervous to ask questions you needed to in order to adequately prepare.
Use reply all. A simple, but essential last reminder: Use reply all on any communications you have regarding the interview. It will keep their internal communications running smoothly, and it’s as easy as just pressing a button. Don’t worry about clogging somebody’s inbox; if people other than the person doing the interview coordination are CC’ed on the email, it’s safe to surmise whatever you’re replying with is information that’s relevant to all parties. There are truly no drawbacks to keeping everybody on the same page.