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Advice / Job Search / Interviewing

3 Old-School Interview Rules That Definitely Still Apply

Should you still bring a paper copy of your resume to an interview? What about a hard copy of a PowerPoint in case of a technology fail? Should you pull out your planner or your phone when scheduling appointments?

According to a 2015 Pew Research poll, the workforce today is comprised nearly equally of Millennials, Gen Xers, and Baby Boomers. That means we live in a world where the workforce is a mix of those who grew up with and without the internet and email, with and without formal dress codes, and with and without that notorious lunchtime martini.

So when it comes to interviewing, it can be hard to know when going “old school” would count for or against you. While industry and specific company cultures play into knowing that answer, there are some general rules of thumb.

1. You Should Still Bring Copies of Your Resume

More often than not, your resume is the basis for the entire interview—and if you don’t have a copy handy, you’ll be caught with your mouth hanging open should the hiring manager asks for one.

Ever heard of the improv comedy rule “Yes, and...?” It works because saying “no” stops the action and kills momentum, which is exactly what would happen if you sat and waited for your interviewer to find and print your resume (hello, awkward pause).

It’s just as likely no one will ask and he or she will walk in with a copy already printed out; but in case not, it’s better to be one step ahead and offer a subtle cue that you are not only prepared, but would also be a reliable and supportive employee.

Be doubly prepared by not just having one copy, but multiple in case the meeting goes so well they want to bring in additional people to meet you right away. The less work your interviewer does, and the more you do for them, the more you leave the impression you’re a reliable, rock steady person. After all, good managers are always looking for a hire that’ll make their life easier.

2. You Should Still Have a Hard Copy of Your Digital Presentation

Doing an interview presentation? That’s stressful. And what makes it 10 times more stressful is a technology fail. Maybe the company’s internet is down, maybe your file won’t open, or maybe the room the interviewing team booked is no longer available and the one you’re in now doesn’t even have a screen.

By having a hard copy of your materials, you’re avoiding a tense situation. You want to be the person who has thought of everything (again providing subtle cues you’re able to handle any situation that comes your way).

Sure, it might not have the same impact, but the hiring manager will likely be impressed you even thought of bringing a back-up, rather than being upset that the slides aren’t transitioning in front of his or her eyes.

Plus, you can also decide in the moment whether it’s wise to leave a copy or not for them to further review later.

3. You Should Still Send a Handwritten Thank You Note

Let’s face some cold, hard, facts – snail mail moves at the pace of, well, a snail. Although it is still good etiquette to send a handwritten thank you note, nowadays, decisions are made very quickly. By the time you’re out the door, the hiring manager could’ve vetted your social media and feel ready to make a decision about you.

With that said, the most professional job seekers send both a hard copy and an immediate follow-up email—because when you send both, you appear grateful that day while you’re top of mind and are still able to make an impression and remind the hiring manager a few days later why he or she liked you so much.

It’s awesome how fast technology is moving now, and it’s no doubt exciting to interview at companies that are helping to push it forward. But, no matter how high-tech the organization may be, it’s still so important to follow these three old-school rules. Because so many others think they’re outdated, you’ll stand out—in the best way possible.

Photo of interview courtesy of Mint Images/Tim Robbins/Getty Images.