Whether you’re applying for your first job, fresh out of college, or wanting a career change, interviews can be nerve-wracking and intimidating. Below, I have laid out 5 tips to nailing your interview, regardless of the position you’re applying for.
Dress To Impress
We live in a day and age where most companies are moving away from the business professional dress code and leaning more towards casual business attire. Just because the employees are dressing business casual, remember you’re not hired yet…so get on your suit and get ready to impress.
Depending on the industry you’re interviewing with, be cognizant of your audience. For example: if you’re interviewing with an apparel or consumer goods company be sure not to wear or carry anything with you that is their competitor’s brand. Word on the street is, if you do so, regardless of how great you are, you will not get the job. An interview should be based on you as a person and the value you are providing to the company. Don’t let some silly mistake jeopardize your opportunity with the company.
From emails to handshakes to in-person interactions, be sure to ALWAYS be professional. Eye contact and firm handshakes are two tell-tail signs of lack of confidence. Though you might not think these two physical signs are that important, employers can conclude that you are shy, impersonal, underprepared, or not taking the interview seriously.
These traits will reflect badly on you and thus make the experience miserable for both parties. Especially, if you’re applying to a position that is in sales, marketing or management where client-facing and communication skills are imperative for success – make sure to nail the eye contact. Some other major “don’ts” are fidgeting with your clothes, saying “um” or “like,” or chewing gum in the interview.
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Another aspect of professionalism is coming prepared. If they previously asked you to bring in letters of recommendation or examples of your work, do not show up with one copy of each. If you know who you’re interviewing with, make sure you bring a copy for each person as well as a couple extras just in case more people sit in on the interview. This also goes for resumes. Yes, you already probably sent them your resume via your application or email, but don’t expect them to print it out prior to meeting with you. Print off multiple copies and to stand out, even more, invest in resume paper versus regular printer paper.
Do Your Homework
Interviews are an opportunity for companies to see how you interact, think, explain and function in-person. Different companies take different approaches. Some try to engage in natural communication to see if you can carry a conversation with strangers, some have strategic questions to put you on the spot and to understand your analytical skills and thought process, some test your innate reactions by putting you in awkward situations, and some interviews go by the basic behavioral question format. Moral of the story…there are many different ways an interview can be conducted and the unfortunate side is you are going into the unknown.
Be ready to handle anything and thoroughly prepare for any and all situations. Glassdoor.com is a great resource that has interview questions and reviews from other people who have interviewed for the same position. Beware of the outliers and those that are just mad they didn’t get the job. Another resource that is helpful is the company website. Company websites have a wealth of information regarding the background of the company, their partnerships or acquisitions, and the company culture. Often times, there is a section labeled “press” or “coverage” and you can read blog posts and current events on the company.
Ask Interesting Questions
Nothing is worse than when an interviewer says “we have no further questions, do you have any questions for us?” and the interviewee replies “no.” That answer automatically signals to the employer that you didn’t do your research, you clearly aren’t that interested in the company, and you only are interested in what the company can do for you, not what you can do for the company.
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So, what questions are the “right” questions to ask? As mentioned above, doing research on what the company is up to is crucial. A simple Google search can lead you to various articles. When reading the articles, think of questions you have regarding them and ask these questions at the end of the interview.
For example, I was interviewed by a company that just changed leadership and hired a new CEO. My question was “After the hiring of your new CEO, John Doe, how has that leadership at the top affected the culture of the company?” Other great questions to ask are about culture, why they wanted to work for the company and how their experience has been with the company. Everyone loves to talk about themselves so these questions will be great go-tos and will end your interview on a positive note.
Send A Thank You
After you say goodbye to the interviewer and go on your merry way, what’s next? First and foremost, do not wait for them to email you. Email them within 24 hours of the interview time saying thank you, as well as sending them a handwritten thank you note. No, both thank you notes are not necessary, but remember…you are competing against other qualified applicants for this position and standing out is your main goal. In the message, be sure to reference specific things you talked about or things you appreciated during the interview.
At the end of the day, you want the job, otherwise, you would not have invested time and energy to applying and interviewing for the position. Make sure your passion and excitement for the potential opportunity with the company clearly come across in your interactions. Follow these five tips and you’ll be well on your way to nailing that interview and landing your dream job.