Location, Location, Location!

“Location, location, location!” usually refers to the three most important things to consider before buying or opening a retail business.  But have you given much thought to the location of your interviews?  Interviews today won’t always take place in an office.  Your next interview might be in a conference room, in a lunchroom, at a restaurant, in a hotel lobby, over the phone, or even held remotely over an Internet connection.
The questions asked and the answers you provide may be similar from one interview to the next, regardless of where they take place. But each particular location in which you interview will influence your behaviors and perspectives.  The differences are subtle, but real.  Here are some factors you’ll need to think about.
Employers and interviewers are in control, and usually choose an interview location that is comfortable and convenient for them.  This isn’t to suggest that they don’t take you, the interviewee, into consideration, but more frequently than not, their needs come before yours.  As such, you must always remember to be respectful of their space and environment. This includes not touching anything; and not bringing beverages (even if offered) into your interview.
Regardless of the location, you must quickly become aware of your physical surroundings. You don’t want to trip over a chair or table leg or other obstacle, or walk into a protruding corner of a desk, table or bookshelf.  You’re assessing your new surroundings in the blink of an eye, and want to move comfortably and safely through their spaces.
In a private office, you will usually see clues that provide insight into your interviewer and the company.  Items like photographs of family or corporate activities; sports memorabilia (professional or amateur), can show you interactions between staff, the personality of the individual, etc.  The display of degree certificates, awards, plaques and other credentials can reveal even more about your interviewer.  What else does their office reveal?  Is it neat or cluttered?  Well decorated or utilitarian?  What conclusions can/will you draw from their space?
When you’re in a private office, guest chairs will usually be relatively stationary, comfy and cushiony.  Cushy chairs do not encourage good posture, so be careful not to slouch. Be aware of the positive attitude good posture conveys. Put your butt as far back into the chair as possible to help you sit up straight, and look as attentive as you can.  Try to keep both your feet flat on the floor.  Crossing your legs can appear too casual, and will readily reveal if your shoes are clean and polished.
In a conference room, the chairs frequently swivel and tilt, but because of their proximity to the table, it’s easier to sit up straight with your hands on the table, and your feet underneath.  With your hands on the table, any fidgeting will seem more obvious.  And loose watches or bracelets could prove distracting if they‘re rattling on the tabletop.
If your interview takes place in a hotel lobby, you and your interviewer will likely both be leaning forward and leaning over your knees.  Just keep your attention on your interviewer and try not to be distracted by your surroundings.
Any personal items you bring with you to an office, like a purse, briefcase or portfolio, should be placed on the floor to your left side, leaving your right hand free to shake hands. Never place anything on the desk of your interviewer, to ensure you wont accidentally disrupt something or cover things up on their desk.  If you need to take notes while in an office, keep your pad in your lap.  If you have papers you need to show your interviewer, have them readily available, so you’re not fumbling to retrieve them when the appropriate time comes.
Being interviewed in a conference room allows a bit more flexibility than if your interview were to take place in a small office.  In a conference room, you can place any necessary items on the table – as long as they are not distracting – so you can access them for presentation.  Anything you want to present to your interviewer would be placed directly into their hands, and allowing them to place your items where they deem appropriate.  For note taking, your pad can be set in front of you on the tabletop, rather than in your lap.
And if you are interviewing remotely via teleconferencing software, make sure you are sitting up straight with your computer’s camera capturing you from mid chest up to the top of your head.  You want the interviewer on the other end to see you looking attentive, in frame, and without distractions.
So, there are many considerations for each interviewing location.  Your awareness of your surroundings, the business’s space, and your own behaviors, will influence the confidence you display, and make a difference in how your interviewer sees you.   Paying attention to your location will help you optimize your presentation!
Want more tips about  interviewing,  job search and career development issues?  Please search this blog and visit:  hanklondon.com