Tips for Nailing Your Job Interview
Whether you’re preparing for your first or your 100th interview, interviews can be stress-inducing – but they don’t have to be. Careful preparation and practice can help you float to the top in a sea of candidates. Consider these tips to nail your next job interview.
Get there on time (and by that, we mean 10-minutes early)
It may seem obvious to show up on time for an interview, but your punctuality (or lack thereof) can set the tone for the rest of the meeting. Simple acts of preparation like laying your outfit out the night before, mapping out your commute, and packing extra resumes, portfolios, and pens can allow you to arrive at the interview calm and prepared, with time to spare.
Do the groundwork
The candidate who secures a job offer is not always the most qualified, but rather, the one who best showcases how their skills and previous experiences make them the best candidate for the position. But to do that, you must have a good understanding of the company, and what qualities they’re looking for in an employee.
Do some research on the company, the job description, and the people conducting the interviews. This background information will give you talking points during your interview, and make you more comfortable, relaxed and confident. This clear preparation also demonstrates to the interviewer that you pay attention to detail, and are genuinely interested in the position.
Be an expert on you
If it’s included on your resume, be prepared to talk about it. Although your most recent experiences are probably the most front-of-mind, any of your experiences or skills listed on your application may jump off the page to the interviewer, and you should be able to speak to each with equal eloquence.
To that end, candidates tend to worry about being asked a question they can’t answer. The solution? Prepare for all of them. While there’s no way to predict exactly which questions your interviewer might ask, you can certainly still prepare with frequently asked practice questions that are likely to show up. A helpful strategy to remember these answers is to frame the answers as they relate to your work experiences or skills you plan to highlight in the interview.
When someone asks, “Tell me about yourself,” do not reach for your resume. Firstly, you should know what’s on your resume – it’s your life. Secondly, you are more than your resume. Tell a story, don’t tell a string of facts.
Fake it ‘til you make it
An in-person interview is meant to provide the interviewer with a better understanding of how the applicant presents themselves, beyond their resume. So, appearance matters. And that means not only what you wear, but how you present yourself. This is an advantage if you naturally exude confidence – but for most of us, confidence takes practice.
While it’s normal to feel nervous, try not to show it. Nervous applicants can unknowingly exhibit nervous body language like slouching, fidgeting and lack of eye contact, which interviewers may read as signs that they are disinterested, rude, or disingenuous. Strong handshakes, good posture, direct eye contact and smiling are signals that communicate ease and confidence. Not all of these may come naturally to you, so practice with a friend and make them give you honest feedback.
Ask smart questions
As your interview draws to a close, your interviewer will undoubtedly ask you if you have any questions for them. The answer is always yes. Asking questions demonstrates your curiosity and that you can see yourself in this role. It can be difficult to come up with questions on the fly, so bring prepared questions designed to learn more about the role and organization; think company culture, day-to-day responsibilities, or career growth. If your interviewer is extremely thorough, circle back to something they previously mentioned, and ask them to clarify or elaborate. This will show that you were listening, and paid close attention to detail.
The reality is, you probably aren’t the only person being interviewed for the role, and often, interviewers can schedule multiple candidates in a day. A thank you note – handwritten or emailed – is one way to stand out. Yes, you should always send an individual note to each person you met with individually. The speed and quality of the note should be balanced. Meaning, do not send a quick “Thank you” from your iPhone as you walk out the office. And, do not take weeks to send the most thoughtful, lengthy handwritten note. We recommend within a day or two to send an email to the interviewer thanking them for their time. Make sure the content of the thank you references specific topics from your conversation. A generic thank you note will say to the recipient you are just another generic candidate. Stand out by sending a meaningful thank you.
At the end of the day, interviewers are not just seeking the candidate with the most illustrious resume, they’re looking for someone they can see fitting in around the office. When preparing for an interview, try not to overthink it. Be confident, be prepared, but most importantly, be yourself.