Congratulations! You got the call: They want you to come in for an interview. You've done your research, practiced your pitch, prepared your suit. Now you just need some final advice for the big day:
* A day or two before, drive to the interview site at the same time of day to scope out the traffic on your route and the parking situation, recommends Karen Ridley, policy and training integrator for the Army Career and Alumni Program at Serco Inc. Nothing causes stress like getting lost or stuck in gridlock on the way to an interview.
* If you arrive more than 10 minutes early to an interview, collect your thoughts in your car, says Rachelle Chapman, military recruitment manager for the Adecco Group. You don't want an interviewer to feel guilty about keeping you waiting.
* It may be against your nature to turn down a cup of coffee, but if your interviewer offers one, it's probably a good idea to decline. Even if you don't spill it on yourself, it could lead to awkward moments when you need to put it down, but don't know where.
* A briefcase is fine, but Ridley prefers a nice, sleek portfolio with paper, pen and a few pockets for your résumé: everything you need, and no rummaging.
* Bring multiple copies of your résumé in case you end up facing a series or a panel of interviewers — not Xerox copies, but freshly printed copies on good paper, says Shari Ruehling, an ACAP trainer for Serco. You should also bring several copies of your references: You may be asked for them or need to put them on an application form.
* Come with questions, but be careful how you record the answers, says Ridley. Taking notes during an interview shows you are interested, but it changes the dynamic of a conversation and puts a barrier between you and the interviewer, she says. If you do want to write a few things down, ask first — and don't open up your notepad on the interviewer's desk.