Landing your dream job can seem like an impossible task, especially if the job market in your industry isn’t looking too great. However, after you’ve sent all of your resumes and cover letters out, and have gotten that important interview, the pressure is really on. First impressions count, and you have about 20 minutes to impress them, to convince them that you’re right for the job, and to display your skills in a different way than you’ve already stated in your documentation. So, here are some tips for making it through that interview and showing that you’re compatible.
#1 Do Your Research
Hopefully you already researched the company before applying, and wrote a cover letter specific to the job; however, pre-interview preparation necessitates that you do more. Researching the company on their own website, looking at policies and mottos, and familiarizing yourself with their products will show that you are serious about the position.
In addition, doing some research outside of the company website can help you to gage how customers and perhaps employees feel about the company. Finding out what customers praise and criticize can help you to understand where the company really ranks in relation to their stated goals and philosophies. This can also help you to decide, in part, if this business will really be a fit with you personally. As much as getting a job in a time of need is imperative, you also want to be happy and not potentially locked into a situation that is less-than-desirable.
#2 Look the Part
This might be a rudimentary step, but looking the part is critical to making a good first impression. Many interviewees either over or underdo it when it comes to interview attire, and a good way to gage this is by doing some research into the office culture. While it’s good to default to business casual, there might be something unique about an employment situation that you could express through your attire.
Although you want to confirm to certain dress standards in a job interview situation, you also want to be an individual. Now, this does not mean you should wear your wildest outfit, but small accents of color that add vibrancy to an otherwise plain outfit could be what you do, or wearing an accessory that could potentially be a talking point. You want to have a personality as well as look professional.
#3 Be Confident
This may be easier said than done, but appearing confident is going to help you in an interview situation. While it is important not to be cocky, projecting that you’re knowledgeable and professional is critical. In preparation for this, ask a friend to comment on your nervous behaviors and try to cut down on them. When I am nervous I will click my pen, so in job interviews I make sure not to hold a pen in my hand; find out what your nervous ticks are and try to cut them out.
Doing your research on the company will help you to feel more confident in your interview, but remember that you cannot possible know everything, so asking an interviewer to explain a question or for more information isn’t the worst thing you can do. Most companies will train you in specifics, so not having everything down in an interview situation doesn’t exclude you as a candidate.
#4 Have Questions Prepared
Every job interview seems to end the same way: the interviewer will ask you if you have any questions. If you can, try to ask questions throughout the interview to really show that you are engaging, but also save some for the end.
Asking about things like the work environment can be a good default question to go to instead of pay or holiday time, and gives you the option to ask more questions once the initial question is answered. Because interviewers are looking for an employee that not only has skills but also fits in with an office culture, asking about work environment puts you on the same page, and many interviewees forget that finding an employee is also about finding a personality that fits in.
#5 Practice with a Friend
Having a friend practice with you can really help you to build confidence and feel comfortable in an interview situation. Try and replicate the interview situation as much as you can. Prepare questions and answers with a friend, and try to be confident and comfortable. Some of the toughest questions that interviewees have to answer are about strengths and weaknesses, so utilize your time with a friend to really hash out what these are. It is almost guaranteed that an interviewer is going to ask you about your biggest weakness, so think of a real one that isn’t “I’m a perfectionist,” but that still makes you a viable candidate. Preparation is crucial here.
#6 Be on Time; Be Yourself
It should go without saying that you need to be on time or early to your interview, so if it’s in an unknown place, plan your route and make sure you give yourself enough time to get ready. In addition, it is important to be yourself. I know everyone says that, but being your best, professional, personable self can really make or break your interview. You want your interviewers to like you personally as well as professionally, so don’t be afraid to show some of your own sparkle.
Getting through a big job interview is hard, so don’t feel bad for being afraid, just use the fear to get you through. Every job interview is a new experience and opportunity for growth, so even if you don’t get the job think of it as a learning process, and don’t be afraid to ask the company for feedback.