So you’ve got the interview – now it’s time to nail it. Aside from the standard prep notes like arriving on time and bringing copies of your resume (or a portfolio if needed), it’s important to remember to dress the part, too. Keep in mind it’s always better to be overdressed than under, so you shouldn’t plan on walking into an office with shorts and flip flops. Granted, a suit isn’t always required, but consider that first impressions last the longest. The manner in which you present yourself reflects on your character! When your next interview is right around the corner, prepare for it by following these 7 tips and you’ll be sure to succeed.
1. Do your research. I constantly tell people this is one of the easiest things you can do prior to an interview. If you think the interviewer isn’t doing the same thing with
you, you’re sorely mistaken. Research the company, job, and interviewer and get your own cheat sheet together! Here are several things you can do to arm yourself with information for some of the next steps listed below:
2. Prepare Yourself. Your interview starts as soon as you walk through the door, so be prepared to make a good first impression and take advantage of the time you have while you have it. Once you’ve reviewed the company and people, start to think about how you can position yourself for success within their organization based on their needs. Bring copies of your resume, even if you had previously emailed it. If you have a formal job description, use it! This is golden and is most likely what they will be focusing on. Dissect your previous experiences, focusing on responsibilities and any bonuses they may have. Help connect the dots for them! You may also want to review the basic questions and your answers, such as “tell me about yourself” or “what are your strengths and weaknesses?” The more you prepare here, the more you’ll be able to answer the questions directly, and most importantly, they will be relevant to what they want to hear and is directly tied to your experience.
- At the very least, look at their website to try and understand their mission, goals, initiatives, and beliefs.
- See who their clients are and start to construct any correlations or synergies you may have.
- Most importantly, get to know whom you’ll be meeting with. Google and LinkedIn are huge assets here, but don’t limit yourself. See if you’re able to find them on any social networking sites as well and look for common interests or hobbies that you would be able to discuss during your interview. And speaking of social networking sites, you might want to look over your privacy settings and adjust them accordingly.
3. Be personable. Interviews can be tough to read considering you never know what you’re walking into and what mood people will be in. Even worse, there can be a grey line as to what’s personable and funny and what’s inappropriate, so use your best judgement. Try not to interrupt, just interject where you believe it’s suitable. Simply feel out how the conversation is going and keep a proper tone and pace while remaining engaged. Most importantly, avoid trailing off topic and the keep your long stories short.
4. Body language. It may be nerve-racking to think about, but all eyes will be on you during the interview. Your handshake says a lot about your confidence, so try to find a good balance between a handshake that’s too flimsy and one of a lumberjack. Your eyes also provide a good amount of insight to others. Keep eye contact throughout the interview and make sure to not doze off or to start staring around the room while someone is speaking to you, this reflects a lack of interest. Remember the manners you were taught as a kid? Now is the time to use them. Keep your elbows off the table, don’t slouch, and smile and nod from time to time to show them you’re focused. Aside from your own body language, it’s just as important to pay attention to theirs. If you notice someone suddenly shift their attention from you by glancing at their watch or phone, it typically means you’re response is taking too long. Cut the unnecessary detail to keep them interested and engaged!
5. Turn the Tables. You should be asking questions, too. Based on the research you did in step 1 and prep from step 2, compose some smart questions. Be sure to put some thought into it and not just ask about the business hours and when you can clock out. Focus on the corporate structure, strategy, goals, etc. Show them you understand the big picture. Not only will this help you learn more about the job, but also it makes you look good and puts you one step ahead of the game.
6. Close the deal. This is a vital point. As the meeting is winding down, be sure to express your enthusiasm for the company and position. Ask if there are any areas they’d like you to further expand on or any information you can send them following the meeting. Try and expand the relationship past this first meeting. Inquire about next steps and timing, like when you should hear back or how many other candidates they’ll be meeting with. Finish strong by thanking the interviewers and reinforcing your charming persona.
7. Follow up. Employers typically like to see an extra effort in keeping in touch with them after your interview. This can be following up with something as simple as an email or even a handwritten note. Make it personal to the individual you’re writing it to, reiterating your interest in the position and mentioning strong points from your conversation. Whatever you choose to write, keep it sincere and well written. Most importantly, spell check your writing and remember to thank them for their time!