8 Helpful Tips for a Successful Onsite Interview

Maddie Lloyd
by Maddie Lloyd
Get The Job, Guides - 11 months ago
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It’s the moment every job-seeker eagerly awaits and equally dreads — the invitation for an onsite interview.

It’s the time to really show off your strengths, experience, and background knowledge you have of the company. Sometimes an in-person interview happens after an initial phone interview or a meeting at a job fair, and sometimes your resume and qualifications are just that good.

Here’s the deal:

The purpose of an onsite interview is for both you and the interviewer to learn more about each other so you can both decide if you would be a good fit for the company. The interviewer gets to determine if you would succeed in the position, and you get a firsthand look into the company’s culture and work environment.

Here are 8 tips to help you prepare for the most successful onsite interview possible.

1. Plan your travel arrangements ahead of time

Before heading off for your onsite interview, it’s a good idea to plan ahead of time how you’re going to get there. Whether you’re traveling across the country or just driving a town over, it’s a best to already have your travel arrangements all figured out.

You may have to deal with airlines, taxis, god-awful traffic, or just an unplanned bump in the road, so you want to give yourself plenty of time to arrive to your employer’s office safely and on time. Showing up to your interview a late, frazzled mess won’t leave a good impression on anyone.

It’s proper interview etiquette to arrive 15 minutes early. This extra time will also give you a moment to review your materials and just take a breath. Use a GPS device to get directions and monitor traffic the day of your interview.

2. Prepare to answer interview questions

If you thought you had to know a lot about the company for your initial phone interview, it’s time to buckle up. Before you go into your onsite interview, you’ll want to prepare to answer the most common interview questions.

You can always expect to hear questions like “what are your greatest strengths?” or “what sets you apart from other candidates?” But you should also prepare to answer questions about the company.

3. Learn about the company and your interviewers

It’s not the best idea to walk into an interview without knowing diddly squat about the company. This is a surefire way to make yourself out to be a clueless ol’ scrub daddy.

When researching the company’s background, look specifically for information about

  • The current CEO and management team
  • The company’s history and growth
  • The mission and core values
  • The products and services they offer
  • Their target audience
  • Their competitors

Before your onsite interview, reach out to your company contact and ask for any available information on the people you’re going to be interviewing with. Make sure you get their names and job titles and learn about their professional accomplishments by doing some casual stalking of the company’s website or their LinkedIn page.

4. Make sure to dress for success so you can impress

The words “dress,” “success,” and “impress” were put together in hauntingly annoying rhyming phrases for a reason.

When going to a job interview, you want to dress in professional business attire to give off a good impression and look like you’re at least somewhat qualified for the job — even if you have no idea what you’re doing!

5. Come prepared with all the necessary interview materials

Never show up to a job interview empty-handed. That doesn’t mean you have to show up with flowers and chocolates — this isn’t a date! Bring all of the essential materials you need for an interview — you don’t want to be caught unprepared.

Bring pens, a padfolio with a notepad so you can jot down notes, copies of your resume, examples of your work, business cards, a list of references, and your smile! Seriously though — if you’re all frowny, your interviewers might think you have a bad attitude, and that’s something you should definitely leave at home.

6. Be prepared with a sturdy list of questions to ask your interviewer

Along with the other materials you should bring to an interview, you don’t want to forget a list of questions for when your interviewer inevitably asks “Do you have any questions for me?”

Doing research into the company before the interview will help you come up with specific questions, but you can always ask questions like

  • ”What are the typical challenges for this position?”
  • ”Tell me more about your management style
  • ”What is a typical day look like for someone in this position?”

Easy peasy. Just make sure to leave out questions about salary and benefits. Save those questions for when the company sends you a job offer.

7. Get a good night’s rest

It’s hard to make a good impression on potential employers when you’re yawning, rubbing your eyes, or even worse — still wearing your pajamas.

Make sure you get a good night’s sleep the day before your interview, and no drinking the night before — you don’t want to show up hungover and complaining of a headache.

During an onsite interview, you might meet with different groups of people, from potential coworkers, to managers and supervisors. It’s important to be sharp and focused during every interaction so you can clearly talk about why they should hire you.

8. Send a thank you letter after the interview

Once your onsite interview is (finally) over, it’s time to send out that professional follow up thank you letter!

It’s important to send out a note to your interviewer thanking them for their time. Not sending a thank you letter basically says “I’m an ungrateful jerk who has no manners and was raised by wolves.” Do you want to be that person? No, probably not.

In your follow up email, you can thank the company and your interviewer for their consideration for the opportunity, as well as ask for information about the next steps in the process and the company’s timetable for filling the position. Sending out thank you letter is a great way to get an edge over other applicants.

Now you’re ready for your next onsite interview

Onsite or in-person interviews can seem intimidating, but they don’t have to be scary. With a letter preparation, you can have all the tools you need to impress any employer you interview with.

Now it’s time to read a little bedtime story about the history of the company, get to bed early, and wake up with enough time to get to your interview 15 minutes ahead of time. Good luck!