You made it past the first few screening stages and the hiring manager thinks you may have what it takes for the job. It is normal to feel both fear and excitement about this new opportunity, but you’ve not been offered the job yet. You must first get through the interview and show yourself to be the shining star that you are. These interview tips will help you get there.
It's Hard to Truly Grasp All That You Read. That's Why the Best Interview Tip Is to Practice
Reading interview tips will only take you so far. You need practice. Don't turn down an opportunity to interview. You can only practice so much in front of the mirror or with a friend. At some point, you need to try the real thing. Further, interviewing is so much more than just sitting in a room and answering interview questions. It includes interview preparation, interacting with people as you arrive at the interview setting, greeting the interviewer, adapting to different interviewing styles, following up after the interview, and the list goes on and on.
Even if you're invited to an interview for a position you’re really not sure you want or you’re really not sure is a great fit, accept anyways. If nothing else, it’s great practice and gets you ready to interview for positions that are a better fit. Also, you might be surprised at what comes out during the interview. You might change your mind or get an unexpected opportunity.
Be Ready When the Time Comes
This may seem like common sense, but too many people show up at the interview without really preparing ahead of time. Then during the interview they may stammer, appear nervous, answer questions wrong or do something that drops them from contention.
Research and find a list of questions that you might be asked. You can research by searching interview questions related to the position title, industry or company. Prepare your answers ahead of time and have some real-life examples readily available that highlight your passion and how your background meets the requirements of the position. Practice in front of a mirror and watch your body language and facial expression.
As you prepare your answers, remember that most answers should take an average of 60-90 seconds, so start thinking in bullet points and not paragraphs. For example, if you’re asked to tell the interviewer about yourself, pick 2 or 3 highlights that best meet the job description of the particular position.
Always have questions ready to ask. Some questions can be re-used from interview to interview no matter the industry because they convey a desire to do a great job. For example – “During a job performance review, what is the biggest differentiator between poor performance and great performance?” is a great question. Two other good possibilities include: “What do you like best about working here?” and “What are the goals or expectations within the first three to six months?”
Most companies don’t use the weakness question anymore (“What is your greatest weakness?”), but always be prepared for it with an answer that shows you in a personal and positive light. Cliché answers such as “I care too much” or “I work too hard” will leave you looking unprepared and insincere. Use an experience to show something that you improved about yourself that does not directly link to the requirements of the position.
One of the last activities you should do to prepare is to call HR. Find out as much about the interview as you can. If possible, get the name of the hiring manager and ask questions about the work culture and the interview format.
Make a Good First Impression
Like it or not, the interviewer is going to make a judgment about you the first time he sees you. Therefore, you want to start by making a great first impression. Following are some tips to help you start strong:
- Be healthy and look healthy. Take care of yourself when you look for work. You may not feel like it, but it's important to remain motivated and upbeat as you go through this journey.
- Smile. Smiling with ease the tension and make everybody feel better.
- Dress nicely. Even if the company is laid back, the minimum standard for a professional interview is business casual unless you are specifically told to dress even more casually. If you are interviewing for upper level positions or if the company is more conservative, wear a formal business attire to the interview.
- Check the weather and dress accordingly.
- Be on time. In fact, be about 10 minutes early. If you arrive much earlier than that, spend some time in a corner café getting ready. If you are on your way but unexpected circumstances keep you from arriving on time, contact the HR representative immediately to explain the situation.
- Bring copies of your resume and have them ready to hand out at the beginning of the interview, if needed.
During the Interview
Be confident and believe in yourself.
Make sure to project the type of personality that fits the culture of the organization and what is expected for the position. For example, if this is a sales position, you need to make sure you are energetic, personable and likable. If this is an interview for a very conservative company, your words and mannerisms should also be conservative. Don’t try to be somebody you are not, but show how you can be a good fit.
If you’re in the interview and find that you’re really bungling a question, just stop and ask if you can start the answer over. Owning up to a mistake quickly is much better than making the mistake and pretending all is well. Making a mistake is not a great thing, but fixing it right away shows the interviewer that you are willing to address issues as they arise.
Make sure to listen actively. This means that even if the interviewer starts to ask a question for which you are thoroughly prepared, listen to the entire question before answering. It also means to ask questions when appropriate and fully participate in the conversation.
Always use proper manners. Shake hands, make good eye contact, smile, be friendly, remember the names of your interviewers and use them during the conversation.
At the end of the interview, always thank the interviewer for his time. Be sure to follow-up within a day by sending an email. Ask what the timing is related to the hiring process and feel free to follow-up. If someone else was offered the position, ask if you can get feedback from the hiring manager regarding why you were not the top candidate.