Interviews can be nerve-wracking; especially since the advent of the behavioral interview-where employers added a whole new level of question to help determine not only your skill-set, experience, and goals, but to better understand your personality and how you handle situations. Still, the basics for being your best remain much the same. So, here are our top 10 tips on how to ace that interview:
1. Do your homework. Before you ever set foot through the door, you should learn as much as you can about the company you’re applying with. Usually, the company’s website is a great place to gain that information, but don’t be afraid to ask for company brochures and literature. Asking questions about the company and wanting to learn more shows the employer that you’re not just interested in the position, but in the company itself.
2. Be prepared. Know the name of the person you’re interviewing with and use it. Take extra copies of you resume and a list of references. In the days before the interview, sit down and write down questions you would like to ask. Think through your experience and be ready to answer questions and offer in-depth information. Often the interviewer is not only looking for how you meet the skill-set, but assessing your behavioral patterns as well, so be prepared to provide detailed and specific responses.
3. Dress appropriately. The interview dress code rule of thumb is this: Always dress slightly better than the corporate dress code and the position you’re applying for dictates. So, if your job requires jeans and t-shirt, interview in pressed trousers and a nice shirt. You want to look clean, pressed, well-groomed, and smartly dressed. This doesn’t mean it has to be expensive, but it does mean it needs to be clean and of decent quality. And pay attention to the shoes; a great suit losses its power if the shoes are worn and scuffed.
4. Be on time. This doesn’t mean show up for your 9AM at 9AM; it means, show up at 8:45. If unsure of the location, scout it beforehand. If unsure of the traffic situation, leave extra early. If you end up arriving to soon, don’t wait in the lobby, wait in your car or find a quiet place to sit and review your notes.
5. Keep a happy medium. Don’t ramble. Questions like, “Tell me about yourself” aren’t an opening for you to talk about your childhood. Keep your responses on focus; discuss only that which is relevant to the job and company you’re applying for. At the same time, make sure you say enough. Be succinct, but don’t be too short with information. Talking too little is as bad as talking too much.
6. Stay true to the message. Your message, in this instance, is “Here is what I have done and what I can do for you in a way that delivers a strong return in your investment in hiring me.” This doesn’t mean open season to talk about how you are the end-all and be-all to save the company from itself; no one likes a braggart. What it does mean is that you focus on your strengths, experience, and goals, and how they fit with the position and company.
7. Avoid talking money or benefits. These discussions are best left for after the job has been offered. Focusing too much on them gives the impression that money and perks are all that you’re interested in. Worse, by discussing salary at this phase, you just give the employer the ammunition they need to screen you out
8. Be careful when talking about your current/previous employer. While some may think that criticizing their past employers shows them as go-getters keen to move ahead; in truth, all it does is paint you as a malcontent. So stick to the old adage: “If you can’t say something positive, don’t say anything at all.”
9. Smile and stay calm. Yes, you’re going to be nervous; you know it and they know it. It is how you handle being nervous that will count. Be aware of your body language; sit up straight and don’t fidget. Smile when you talk. Look confident, make eye contact, and speak clearly and succinctly. Don’t rush your words and don’t interrupt the interviewer.
10. Assume that for everyone you meet, it is Interview Number 1. That means, don’t be rude the receptionist, and when the interviewer says, “I’d like you to meet my boss” assume that the boss has never seen your credentials. Everything you say and do whilst in that environment is part of the interview; so stay on your toes and act the part.
Interviewing is a learned skill, but even those of us who’ve been through our share can still make mistakes. Whether new to the job-seeking world or a veteran; by taking these 10 tips to heart, you are well on your way to ensuring that the next interview you’re on, you’ll make a great impression.
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