Congratulations! You’ve landed an in-person job interview. After screening calls and phone interviews, an in-person interview is often one of the final steps before receiving a job offer. Heading into the office for an in-person interview gives you the opportunity to showcase your personality and check out the company culture firsthand.
Research the company
You’ve likely done a bit of research on the company already but now it’s time to dig deeper. What you learn about the company will influence the types of questions you can expect, the questions you should ask and even what you wear.
Thankfully, nearly all of this information is available online. Take a look at:
Newsroom and press coverage
Social media accounts
The company’s “About” page on their website
Glassdoor reviews about the company from other employees
👉 If you’re not already subscribed to the company’s emails, sign up before your interview. This will give you a great idea of how they market their product or service to customers. It will also give you an idea of their overall tone.
Get to know the interviewer
If you aren’t sure exactly who you will be interviewing with, follow-up with the recruiter or hiring manager to confirm. Research the interviewer on LinkedIn to get a feel for their background, their role with the company and how long they’ve been in it and any common connections you may have.
If you heard about the job through a referral, reach out to that person and ask if they have any insight into the company culture, the interview process or the person you’re interviewing with.
Anticipate the interview questions
Review the job description once more and make a list of all the skills they are looking for. Then, write down an example that shows how you have demonstrated this skill and the value it provided to your company.
Next, take a look at some of the common interview questions you can expect. Practicing your responses to these and answering “Tell Me About Yourself” verbally will help you answer confidently in your meeting.
👉 Practice by yourself in front of a mirror or by recording your answers and reviewing them. Or, ask your partner or a friend to perform a mock interview with you and rate your performance.
During the interview, maintain good posture and eye contact. Always let the interviewer finish their question before answering. If you need a moment to think about your response, say “That’s a great question, let me think of an example.”
Addressing sensitive topics
If this is the first time you are meeting face-to-face, it’s a good idea to be prepared to answer any sensitive topics that may come up during your interview.
If you are interviewing while pregnant, decide if and how you will discuss your pregnancy. Sharing your pregnancy is a personal decision, but if you are noticeably pregnant it’s best to prepare a confident statement that acknowledges the pregnancy and focuses on your plans to drive value for the company in your role before and after you return.
If you are returning to work after a short career pause, your interviewer may not even ask about it. Be prepared to address it just in case. The best approach is to acknowledge the pause and then shift the focus back to your qualifications and experience.
If you have been out of work for awhile or are an older candidate, it’s possible you’ll face some ageism biases. These can be hard to respond to because they often aren’t explicitly stated. It’s illegal to discriminate against someone based on their age, but an interviewer may use phrases like “this position is too junior for you” or “you’ll be bored in this role.” Here’s how to respond to these statements and how to overcome ageism in your job search.:
At some point during the interview, you’ll likely be asked if you have any questions of your own. The answer is yes! Even if you feel you know everything about the role and would love to accept the position today, asking a couple thoughtful questions shows you’ve done your homework and you take this position seriously. This is also a great opportunity to ask more about the company culture and benefits that are important to you.
Here are some great questions you can ask an interviewer:
What do the day-to-day responsibilities of this role look like?
What are some things you’d like to see done differently in this role if I step in?
How do you measure success in this position?
What is the most challenging aspect of the job?
What are the biggest opportunities for improvement in the department right now?
What types of benefits are available with this position?
Show and tell
In addition to answering the interviewer’s questions and posing a few of your own, be prepared to walk the interviewer through a few examples of your experience by sharing your value portfolio.
Print a copy of the value portfolio along with a couple copies of your resume. Use a high quality paper (visit your local print shop if needed) and place them neatly in a professional folder to leave behind.
Dress for success
It’s a good idea to dress as formal (if not a bit more formal) than your interviewer. You can check the company’s website and social media accounts for candid photos of the employees and get a feel for what they’re wearing.
👉 A tailored blazer is always a great option because it can help you handle unknown temperature changes, too. It’s easy to remove if you’re in a warm setting, just make sure your shirt or dress underneath is also interview appropriate on its own.
Now that you’ve chosen your outfit, check for any hanging threads, stains or holes. Watch for these other fashion traps, too:
If there’s gapping between buttons, can you fix it with some fashion tape?
Lean over and check to make sure your neckline isn’t too revealing
Raise your arms over your head to see if your torso stays covered
If you’re wearing pants, sit down and check your waistband in the back
On the day of your interview, keep your makeup and jewelry simple and professional. Do your hair in any style you feel comfortable with. And check for chipped nail polish. It’s a simple detail that goes a long way in making you look polished.
Practice a confident greeting
A great greeting involves a firm handshake, eye contact and acknowledgement of the interviewer by name. When they introduce themselves, repeat their name back to them: “Hi Ashley, I’m Sophie. It’s nice to meet you.”
Schedule a sitter
If you don’t have anyone at home to watch your children, try to find a reliable sitter as soon as possible—you don’t want a last-minute cancellation to leave you scrambling. If you’re interviewing through The Mom Project, you can take advantage of our partnership with UrbanSitter to get a $75 babysitting credit to use during your interview.
Before you leave for the interview, write down a list of instructions for your sitter to avoid getting any calls. But if you’re the emergency line and need to have your phone out, just let your interviewer know.
A few days before
Pack a tote bag you can keep in your car with emergency items like a stain stick, backup pair of pantyhose, fresh lipstick, a bottle of water and an umbrella. Place this in the car so it’s ready to go.
Map your route to the interview location and check it throughout the day. Take note of how the commute time may change based on traffic patterns.
In addition to your emergency tote, consider how you’ll carry your personal items into the office. Remember, you’re bringing copies of your resume and value portfolio, too, but you want your hands free to open doors and shake hands. Use an oversize purse that can hold these items or a small professional tote. If possible, avoid a zipper (like on a backpack) so it’s easy to quickly grab materials in and out.
The day of the interview
Since you’ve already given your outfit a dry run, wait until 30 minutes before you’re due to leave before getting dressed. As a mom, you risk small hands and spills that could create an outfit emergency if you’re dressed much earlier!
Double check that you have your value portfolio and resume in your personal bag. It’s best to avoid eating or drinking in the car as you drive (to minimize spills), but be sure you have a bottle of water with you in case you’re feeling parched from nerves.
Plan to arrive at least 15 minutes early for your interview so you have time to park and check in with the receptionist.
For nursing moms
Depending on the length of time you’ll be away from your baby, you may need to pump just before or immediately after your interview. If you need an adapter to use your pump in the car, be sure to pack it. Bring a towel, too, to protect your clothing from any accidental spills. If you’re planning to pump after your interview, you could also use the restroom or a mother’s room if there’s one onsite.
Within 24 hours of your interview (but ideally as soon as you can), send an individualthank you email to each interviewer, thanking them for their time. Reiterate your interest and qualifications in a few sentences (a paragraph maximum), link to your website or LinkedIn profile and offer to provide followup material if needed.
If your interview was coordinated by a recruiter and you didn’t receive a business card from the person you met with interviewed, send your thank you to the recruiter. They will pass it on for you.
Time to reflect
Congratulations, you did it! Whether you feel like it went great, or if there were things you would’ve done differently, every interview is a valuable learning experience. As you wait to hear back about this interview, reflect on how it went.
Are there questions or responses you feel like you nailed? Were there answers you struggled with and how can you improve for next time?
After you’ve reflected, take a break and celebrate your success in completing this stage of the interview process. And remember to take what you learned today to step up your interview game as you continue on in your career journey.
Find resources for every kind of interview
Phone, virtual, first or last, we have plenty of resources to help make you an interview expert. Join The Mom Project to find career opportunities with family-friendly companies, get tips on nailing the interview and creating the best resume you can.