These things are so basic, it’s scary. But what’s truly frightening is how many candidates don’t take the trouble to do these simple things.
Be on time for calls and meetings. If you are going to a meeting in a new location, find it at least one day previously. Be five minutes early or on time to the minute. Either one sends a great message. Pros are on time.
If you are going to be late, and it does happen sometimes, render timely notice, apologies, a very brief reason, and your desire to reschedule..
Accept fault without drama. Do not blame other people, even (especially !) if you could. Talk about why things went wrong, and talk about how you would handle it better if the situation happened again, since you’ve learned from your mistakes.
When dealing with failure, be succinct, objective, calm and non-defensive – then rapidly turn the spotlight back onto the future, onto you and onto your value proposition.
Understand what value you offer to a new employer.
Understand what your potential perceived negatives are.
Understand the salary structure for your domain, level and location but be aware that salaries are not fair, differ widely, and that there may be many reasons, valid or otherwise, why you are under or overpaid versus the market.
Do your research. Investigate the company and the recruiter. Use the Web intelligently. Even better, try to get first-hand data from friends. But beware of extreme answers and discount them appropriately. I am good, but not “the best recruiter east of the Mississippi” and my client company may be messed up, ugly and dysfunctional but likely not “hell but worse”.
Prepare a few very short anecdotes to illustrate each one of your most marketable assets. Use them when they fit into the conversational flow; don’t just bomb away regardless of context.
You will get double points if these stories fit into a real narrative of a situation (problem, diagnosis, plan, implementation, result).
You will get triple points if these stories match the skills the interviewer wants to find.
Tell the exact truth at all times. Don’t shade job titles, compensation data or dates. For any good recruiter or hiring manager, dishonesty is the #1 red flag and one that a candidate can seldom recover from.
Make sure that every written communication is perfect: resume, emails, thank you notes. Proofread everything three times and don’t rely solely on spellcheck. Speak good grammatical English.
Do not make speeches. Try to have a conversation instead. Short snappy answers work.
Use positive body language: no feet up or arms crossed.
Be polite. Respect what the existing team has accomplished despite the obvious problems.