You get invited to interview for your dream job. You receive the agenda in advance, and there's a 30-minute time slot labelled "Break." This means that they couldn't find somebody to fill that period of time, and they need to park you in a conference room or the company lobby for a while.
The most amazing thing about downtime in an interview is that you can plan for it. In fact, expect it. Think about all the scenarios which can lead to downtime in an interview:
- Arrival before the interview
- An interview ends early
- The next interviewer can't be located
- Company designated lunch break
- An emergency meeting for one of your interviewers
The potential reasons are endless. Here are some suggestions to effectively occupy your time:
- Prior to the interview, print up material pertinent to the job, including a job description, your agenda, relevant articles, LinkedIn profiles of your interviewers. Bring them, read them. Should somebody pass by, they'll see you're taking your day seriously.
- Bring an industry magazine to read (don't flip open your MAD magazine unless that's where you're interviewing). People will consider what you're reading - if you interview for a job as a fashion buyer, flipping through Vogue won't hurt your case.
- If nobody has taken your employment application from you yet, this is a good opportunity to review it for accuracy.
- Take inventory of whose business cards you have received during your interviews. When you're getting ready to send thank you notes, you'll need names and addresses. This way you can ask the Corporate Recruiter at the end of the day for anyone you may have missed.
- Ask for a nature break. Gotta go? This is the time. Do your business, and return promptly in case the next interviewer is ready. Remember to wash and dry your hands: Where are your manners?
Avoid the following:
- Don't check your phone. It's tempting. Really tempting. You want to know what's going on at work while you're out. Don't do it. Your phone should be off from the moment you arrived at the interview. What if you forget to turn it off and it rings during an interview? Worse, what if you decide to get on a call during your break, the next interviewer arrives, and you can't get off the phone? Do you really want to be in a position where you have to decide whether to hang up?
- Don't forget some reading material. Never assume that there will be something to occupy you. And staring into space because you've got nothing to read makes you look like you're on a bad acid trip.
- Don't get too casual. Keep a professional posture. Don't assume nobody is watching - the interviewers will be.
Scott Singer is the President and Founder of Insider Career Strategies Resume Writing & Career Coaching, a firm dedicated to guiding job seekers and companies through the job search and hiring process. He is a Human Resources professional and staffing expert with almost two decades of in-house corporate HR and staffing firm experience, and is a Certified Professional Resume Writer (CPRW) and Certified Professional Career Coach (CPCC).
Insider Career Strategies provides resume writing, LinkedIn profile development, and career coaching services, including a free resume review. You can email Scott Singer at firstname.lastname@example.org, or via the website, www.insidercs.com.