As recruiters, we have a laundry list of traits we look for in top candidates during an interview. Most of it is determined by candidates before they even step through our doors, by how they prepare and present themselves. We canvassed our top recruiters to develop this cheat sheet of what we look for in the ‘perfect interviewee.’

The perfect interviewee will…

  • Arrive about ten minutes early. Being late gives an immediate negative impression, but being drastically early is awkward for the receptionist and interviewer.
  • Dress professionally, even if it’s a recruiter interview. Treat interviews with recruiters the same as you would an interview with an employer. A recruiter represents multiple potential employers! Dress professionally even if the dress code for the job itself will be more casual.
  • Take care of small details. A truly polished candidate take care to not wear overpowering scents, pop a breath mint and made sure their outfit is fresh and free of that ‘mothball’ smell. If possible, find a washroom nearby to the interview location and freshen up beforehand.
  • Always stand up to shake an interviewer’s hand. It’s best practice to stand up when an interviewer enters a room and give a firm handshake. No ‘wet lettuce’ grips please!
  • Switch off and put away mobile phones. NEVER check your phone during an interview or put it on the interview table. Switch it off and keep it out of sight before you step into the building.
  • Displays confident and trusting body language. We’re looking for cues in your body language that project confidence and honesty. It may seem simple but also don’t forget to smile—it exudes confidence, comfort and a pleasant demeanor.
  • Come prepared. Bring multiple printed copies of your resume, as well as any relevant work samples or portfolio items. For example, a sales professional might bring evidence of a campaign they worked on.
  • Give succinct, thoughtful answers with concrete results. Interviewers are looking for the ability to organize your thoughts and provide a clear relevant answer; so avoid rambling and veering off topic. Try to work in key achievements and examples from previous jobs into your answers. Read our guide to answering behavioural interview questions.
  • Be honest, yet unemotional about the reasons behind leaving former positions. If you were fired, say so and move on. Being let go from a company is common and can be for a variety of reasons, many of which aren’t deal breakers. Be honest about circumstances, because lying about it will do more damage than admitting the truth. However, refrain from being too negative when talking about past employers.
  • Demonstrate understanding of the marketplace, company and role. Top candidates do their homework, and not just about the role, but also the market and industry involved. Understanding, in advance, how you can bring value to the role and asking appropriate questions leave great lasting impressions.

With any interview, the key is to be prepared. From your personal appearance to company research, make sure you’re comfortable with how you are going to present yourself. And remember, interviews aren’t just a one-way street; prepare questions to ask the interviewer, because this is your time to find out if the position is right for you and whether it’s the right ‘fit’ for your career path.