Is the Face to Face Interview Still a Thing? 

Face to Face Interview

I was beginning to think that the face to face interview was no longer a thing…then a friend asked if I would help her prep for one.  

I was floored. Video interviews have largely taken the place of the old-fashioned face-to-face, but clearly, there are still companies that employ this methodology. 

So I had to ask…in the post-COVID era, do you prepare for the face to face interview the same way as before COVID rocked our industry? 

The #1 mistake I see people make…

I think the first mistake folks make when they have been invited to a face to face interview is to not wonder WHY. Yep…why is this interview a face to face meeting instead of a video discussion?  Truly considering the ‘why’ question will enable you to navigate this forum successfully. 

The real point of the face to face interview: 

At the face to face interview stage, the primary goal of the hiring manager isn’t to assess whether you do (or don’t) meet the requirements for the position being discussed. The fact that you have been invited to a face-to-face interview means you have already proven that you do meet the position’s minimum requirements. 

The face to face interview is largely focused on your soft skills. The chief objectives of face-to-face interviews are to assess whether you have a pleasing personality, can behave professionally, can quickly build relationships, have strong time management and organizational skills, and can exhibit initiative and leadership capabilities.

Let’s dig into each of these categories. 

What is a pleasing personality…and how do I exhibit one? 

According to Napoleon Hill, “Your personality is your greatest asset or liability.” Several years ago I called one of our candidates to prepare her for an upcoming interview. It was a scheduled call…so she knew to expect me. But when she answered the phone, her ‘hello’ was pitiful.  

It was weak. It had zero energy…it sounded like she didn’t want to be on the phone with me at all. Now maybe she was just shy. Perhaps she lacked confidence or was terrified of the upcoming interview. I don’t know what caused the lack of energy in her voice but I knew this…my client would hear and feel the lack of energy too. And, her pitiful ‘hello’ would negatively impact her chances for the job.

That is what brings us to the importance of exhibiting a pleasing personality.  Someone with a pleasing personality has a positive energy to them. You can tell at the beginning of the conversation that their attitude is optimistic, they have a clear purpose, and they love what they do.  

If you want to exhibit a pleasing personality, avoid gossip. Don’t interrupt others. Actively listen and refrain from complaining and making sarcastic remarks. Oh…and be genuine. Don’t get caught up in offering ingenuine compliments or insincere flattery. 

How to exhibit a pleasing personality during the interview: 

  • Be considerate of your interviewers by being on time. 
  • When you meet your interviewers, smile.  And make sure your ‘hello’ is enthusiastic and your handshake firm and welcoming. A genuine smile and a warm handshake will speak volumes about your character. It will also show your genuine interest in the company, the interviewer, and the position. 
  • Be fully focused during your discussion. That means you need to make eye contact throughout the discussion and actively listen to your interviewer. This also means that you have turned off your phone to avoid distractions! 
  • Have questions prepared for the hiring team. It shows a genuine interest in the folks you are speaking with when you ask relevant and thoughtful questions during the interview. And if appropriate, show your sense of humor.
  • At the closing of the interview, be humble by showing your appreciation for the opportunity to be considered for the position. 

How do I prove I can quickly build relationships? 

And why is it important?  Regardless of your industry, being able to build effective relationships with supervisors and team members will have a direct impact on your success. For example, in our industry, I need to have confidence that the CRAs we represent can build an effective rapport with their sites. 

Why? Because having positive relationships at work can foster collaboration. It will also boost morale and productivity while keeping critical communication lines open. After all, a collaborative environment will better allow for the transfer of skills and knowledge. And of course, this means team members can problem-solve together…which is a win for everyone involved (and a must-have skill for any CRA). 

How to quickly build a relationship with your interviewer: 

  • First and foremost, have open and honest communication with the interviewer. As an interviewer myself, I want my candidates to be transparent with me. I am deciding to represent the candidate and if they are being sincere and straightforward, it establishes trust and rapport. And believe me…I know when someone is holding back. Your interviewer will know that too. 
  • Listen with genuine interest. I get that you are interviewing and therefore should be doing most of the talking, but don’t undervalue the importance of listening. The interviewer is going to tell you some very important things…make note of them. As your interviewer realizes that you have a genuine interest in what she is telling you, she will feel respected and appreciated. Alternatively, if you aren’t paying attention, not only are your responses to her questions likely to be weak, your interviewer will not feel connected to you.
  • Be positive. This means you don’t speak negatively about past employers. This also means that you hold yourself accountable for past mistakes. Being able to express what you have learned from past experiences as well as what you feel you bring to this particular opportunity is a terrific way to build a strong relationship with your interviewer. 

Showing time management and organizational skills…

…before you answer questions on this topic.

Of course, the interview is going to ask questions about your time management and organizational skills. But…showing you possess those skills goes well beyond properly answering questions.  

It starts with being prepared for the interview. Here’s how: 

  • Make sure you have a nice notebook to take notes in. And don’t forget a pen!
  • Take several copies of your resume with you. But make sure you are using the same version and format that was originally submitted for the position. If you are being represented by an agency, ask them for the version they sent over. Why? Because you want to be on the same page as your interviewers…literally. 
  • Make sure you have directions to the interview location. If possible, make a “dry run” the night before so you know where you are going. Not only will this ensure that you are on time for the interview, but you will be refreshed and relaxed (and not in a panic about being lost!).
  • Plan on being at the meeting place 15-30 minutes early. If possible, make sure you check ahead of time regarding any traffic issues to expect. This would include checking with the internet and DMV for planned construction on your route.
  • Keep a phone number handy in case you get stuck in traffic. If this scenario does happen, call before you are late…not after you are late.

Exhibiting initiative and leadership capabilities during the interview:

You can count on your interviewer to ask questions that highlight your ability to take initiative. And as it relates to showing your leadership skills…even if the role isn’t a leadership position, you want to show you have leadership capabilities. The best way to showcase these qualities is to be prepared for Behavioral style questions. For more on this interviewing method, take a look at two articles I have written to assist you: Two Simple Rules of Behavioral Interviewing and “Preparing for a Behavioral Interview”.

Here are some other things you can do: 

  • Dress for success. Don’t underestimate the power of a business suit paired with nice, professional shoes. Oh, and make sure those shoes are not scuffed! If you are traveling for your face to face interview, make sure you pull your clothes out as soon as you get to your hotel room. You want to ensure your suit wasn’t damaged or wrinkled while traveling and if you wait until the last minute you could be in trouble.
  • Make sure you are groomed appropriately. Your hair, jewelry, makeup, and other accessories should be classic and understated. If there is any doubt, go conservative.
  • Be careful of colognes and perfumes…many people are sensitive to scents and you certainly don’t want your interviewer sneezing the entire time. 
  • Speak concisely and slowly. Sound confident and passionate about the company and the position. You must be able to articulate how working for this particular company in this particular role will enable you to work towards obtaining your overall career goals.  
  • Have your references ready.  
  • Be prepared to have a compensation discussion. If you are unsure how to handle this delicate topic, we provide some tips here.

The #2 mistake I see people make…

They don’t ask for the job. No matter what type of interview forum, you must always close the interview by expressing your interest in the job. 

I advise folks to ask for feedback…but make sure you are asking for positive feedback. Never (seriously, never) ask for negative feedback at the close of the interview. A great question to ask is ‘What skills or qualities do I possess that make me a great fit for this position?

It is a terrific closure to the interview for several reasons: 

  • First, to answer the question, the interviewer must visualize you already in the position. Getting the hiring manager to mentally rehearse what it will be like to have you working for her is powerful! 
  • Second, you want the interviewer to verbalize the skills or qualities they have noted as terrific assets. Why? Anything they say in response to this question will also make it into their written notes. And when it comes time to compare you to other candidates, those written notes will go a long way in helping ensure a positive outcome. 
  • And last, if the interviewer has any concerns, she will bring them up now. But in the context of this positive discussion, it will be easy for you to mitigate those concerns. 

I have never seen this question fail. And in the spirit of transparency, honesty, and open communication, it is a terrific way to positively end an interview.  

Have questions? Contact us – we are here to help.