Congratulations on making it to an interview. Your skills and experience must have been impressive enough to warrant a meeting. Now is your chance to sell yourself and seal the deal. We have provided a few tips to help guide you through the interview and ensure you leave a good impression.
1. Get to Know the Company
It’s always a good idea to learn what you can about the company who is interested in you. Start with their website. Have a basic understanding of the products or services the company provides. Look up the company’s page and other social media accounts. The more you know about the company, the better understanding you will have of what will be expected. You’ll also be better equipped to answer the interview questions well if you’re familiar with the values, personality, and goals of the company.
2. Prepare Answers to Common Interview Questions
When scheduling the interview, try to find out who you’ll be meeting with. Find out if it will be one-on-one or with a group. Will it be the HR director or the department manager? Knowing who and how many you’ll be meeting with reduces surprises and sets your expectations. Consider what you will be asked and practice detailed but concise responses using specific examples. To help you get started, review our article on Common Interview Questions.
3. Dress for Success
Plan an outfit that fits the organization and culture of the company. Be yourself, but keep in mind it’s better to be overdressed than to be underdressed. Wear clothing that is clean and avoid eating right before the interview… the last thing you want to do is distract your interviewer with a stained shirt or onion breath.
4. Arrive On Time
Being on time to an interview is extremely important—even better, you should plan to arrive 10 minutes early. Not only will this time allow you to relax and review your responses, it can also give you an opportunity to observe the work environment. This time can also be used to fill out any additional paperwork that may be required. As well, arriving on time shows your potential employer that you are punctual. Remember: the kind of job seeker you are says a lot about the kind of employee you’ll be.
5. Make the Right First Impression
Arriving on time, dressing well, and being prepared will all help to make a good first impression. You should also greet your interviewer with a smile and a firm handshake. Demonstrate confidence and a positive attitude. Remember to keep your responses short and relevant. No matter what has happened in the past, do not talk badly about your previous employers or co-workers. Instead, make the interview about how you are the ideal candidate for the position.
6. Pay Attention to Your Body Language
Of course, the most important part of the interview will be your responses. But body language matters, too, and could be distracting, resulting in awkward tension between you and your interviewer. Be sure to smile and make eye contact as suggested above. Nodding and actively listening helps you answer the questions thoughtfully—be sure to wait for the entire question to be asked before responding. Avoid looking off into the distance and seeming bored or distracted. Don’t fidget with a pen, your phone, or anything else. Engage with the interviewer, show that you are interested in the question, and remain present.
7. Ask Questions
Employers will determine how interested you are by whether or not you ask questions. By asking questions, you show you have done research and are curious. Prepare these questions prior to your interview, as you research the company and consider the kind of work you’ll be doing.
8. Make the Sale
Often times the most qualified applicant is not always the one who is hired. The job is usually offered to the candidate that is best at responding to the questions and seeming like the best fit. During the interview, keep in mind that you are the salesperson and you are the product. The employer wants to know that you have the success of the business in mind, so sell your ability to solve problems for the business and its customers.
9. Next Steps and Follow-up
As the interview comes to a close, remember to ask about next steps in the process. Don’t forget to ask about a time frame in which the decision about the position will be made. At this stage, resist the urge to ask how much you will be paid. Discuss it openly if your interviewer brings it up, but don’t open the topic until an offer is on the table. Be sure to thank each person who interviewed you before you leave. A thank-you email after the interview is no guarantee you will get an offer, but it will give you an edge over someone who didn’t take the time to follow up.
A little preparation for an interview goes a long way. Following this advice and our 7 Tips for New Job Seekers will get you one step closer to landing a job. And, if you need help putting together an attention-grabbing resume, check out our article on resume writing before you get started. Happy job hunting!