If you’ve been on the job hunt lately, odds are that you will eventually have to go through an interview before you get offered a position. For some people, the interview is the easiest part of the process, but others see it as the biggest obstacle sitting between them and the job.
In this post, I’m going to share my top interview tips that should always be followed. Keep in mind that these tips are broad and can be tailored to meet the needs of the specific job you are applying for. At the end of the day, the whole point is to be remembered for the good things you did and said, not the things you should have done or could have done differently.
Interview Tips: The Preparation Process
Preparing for the interview begins before you ever show up to the employer’s office. If you go in blindly, you may find yourself a little scatterbrained and unable to organize your thoughts. To make sure this doesn’t happen, try the following interview tips:
Practice Answering Questions
One of the best ways to prepare for an interview is to practice answering questions. There are plenty of sites that offer lists of common job interview questions, so make sure you take the time to go through those and create answers.
To help make your answers stand out from those of the other applicants, make sure you use specific examples and experiences. For instance, if you are saying that leadership is one of your strengths, make sure you offer an example of how you were a leader in the past. It may have been the time you led a team of ten individuals to produce the highest sales of the quarter, or the time you led a staff training that resulted in excellent feedback from everyone.
If it helps, have a friend or family member ask you these questions and give you feedback on not just your answers, but your tone, nonverbal language, and facial expressions. You could also practice in a mirror so that you can see how you look when you are giving your answers.
Research the Company
This is one of those interview tips that people often hear, but they fail to follow through on some of the time. If you are applying for a position, the company wants to know that you have a least some knowledge about their services and/or products. This doesn’t mean you need to be an expert, but it does help to show them that you do care and are invested enough to know what the company stands for.
Extra Tip: Use your answers to make a connection between you and the company. For example, if you are applying for a design position and you know the company uses Adobe programs, you can use your previous experience to relay to the company that you’re familiar with the programs.
If you aren’t familiar with Glassdoor, then you’ll want to definitely check it out. Here, past and present employees can write reviews about their companies, list salary ranges, and give some insight into the company’s interview process.
If you are applying to a large company, odds are that there are numerous reviews listed, which means that you can gather interview tips from several people all in one place! Make sure you pay close attention to any patterns you see from employee to employee… That could hint that you may be asked the same question.
Interview Tips: The Arrival
Now that you’ve prepared, it’s time to actually show up for the interview. This part is extremely important because first impressions are everything.
Arrive Early (But Not Too Early)
You want to show that you know how to be punctual, but you also don’t want to show up 30 minutes early and make the employer feel as though they need to rush to talk to you so that you don’t just sit in the hall for a half hour.
The best rule of thumb I’ve heard is to arrive about 15 minutes early. If you arrive any sooner, it is best to either stop by a local coffee shop or wait in your car a bit until the time gets closer.
Look the Part
The most common interview tips address your appearance. Why? Because this is what the employer is going to notice when they first see you!
Now, some positions are very laid back and let their employees wear jeans every day. Although this is great for the workers, it doesn’t mean that you should show up to the interview in the same attire. If you know you’re walking into a more casual atmosphere, try finding a good pair of slacks and a nice shirt to wear. Avoid anything with too many patterns or designs. Try to keep it as clean and fresh as you can without coming off as too overwhelming. You want the employer to focus on you, not your clothes.
As for hair and makeup, keep it natural. The interview day is not the day to experiment with the cat eyeliner that you’ve been dying to try. Instead, dab on some mascara, a little lip color, and call it a day. If your hair is having issues, pull it back into a nice ponytail.
Interview Tips for the Interview Itself
Congratulations, you’ve finally sat down and are ready to get this show on the road! You’ve prepared your answers and feel confident in your ability to land this job. All you need to do is get through this and hopefully you’ll get chosen! Here are the biggest interview tips you can follow if you’ve done everything up to this point:
- Look enthusiastic but don’t come across as fake
- Maintain eye contact
- Take a second or two to answer each question
- If you normally talk fast, make sure you slow it down a bit (especially if the interviewer has to write)
- Make sure you speak up if you are a quiet talker
- Sit up straight in your chair
- Avoid crossing your arms
- If you need to fidget, try sticking your hands under the table
- Use hand gestures but don’t make them the focal point
- Be sure to have your own questions on hand so that you can ask the employer at the end
Interview Tips: The Follow Up
As a courtesy, it’s always nice to send a note to the interviewer to thank them for considering you and taking the time out of their day to speak with you. Although emails are totally fine, it may also be a nice gesture to send a note by snail mail. This doesn’t need to be anything elaborate!
You can find tons of other interview tips online, but I would love to hear some of the ones you have! Feel free to list them in the comments below!
EricMarch 9, 2015 at 11:46 pm
I would say that it may be a good idea to come prepared to make a presentation about yourself, however that may be. It is very likely that you will interview with someone who glanced at your resume 10 seconds before they walked in the door and that is about as prepared as they will be. They will go through your resume pretty quickly, ask you a few canned questions, and 5 minutes into your 30 minute interview, they’ll be done. So now what? This person is going to impact the hiring decision and you’ve had 5 minutes with them and now you’re in that awkward silence phase of things. This is the time to bust out that presentation that you prepared. I’m an engineer, so it is usually samples of some of my work, but it can apply to other jobs. It could be a sample of an accounting spreadsheet that you put together, a company guideline that you authored, or perhaps a project from a college class. Ideally, you have an idea of your interview schedule and can tailor the material to who you are meeting with. The purchasing person that you are interviewing with doesn’t care about your drawing portfolio and the design manager you are interviewing with doesn’t likely care about your fancy currency conversion spreadsheet. If you’re smart about doing this, it can really take the interview to the next level and make you stand out. This is about you taking control of the interview when given the opportunity (and not beforehand) and showing your stuff. I promise, that makes a good impression.
Nikki @ MBAsahmMarch 10, 2015 at 8:30 am
Great tips! At my last job I was in charge of recruitment and hiring, so I did a ton on interviewing. I hate to say it, but some of the most important things are the easiest to accomplish – just showing up on time and looking appropriate! If someone seemed nervous or hesitated answering questions, we didn’t really hold it against them…interviewing can be nerve-racking. BUT if they didn’t show up on time, sometimes we wouldn’t even follow through with the interview! And if they weren’t dressed nicely it made us wonder. Good post! <3
ToriMarch 11, 2015 at 2:28 pm
Thanks for the inside scoop, Nikki! I think being on-time is super important as well!
DanaMarch 10, 2015 at 8:59 am
Great tips! I was laid off in October and have been looking (not super actively) for a new job. I had a phone interview last week and totally bombed it – I was so nervous! Preparation is key!
ToriMarch 11, 2015 at 2:29 pm
I hope that you’re able to find a job that you’ll enjoy, Dana!
Kate - Catching Up With KateMarch 10, 2015 at 9:25 am
I have been out of the loop so long! Thank you for the tips!
StephanieMarch 10, 2015 at 9:27 am
Great tips. Interviews always make me really nervous!
AngelaMarch 10, 2015 at 9:54 am
I think its always good to be yourself. Show your personality while remaining professional. Especially when it comes to interviewing with smaller teams. I just flew down to Austin for an interview and while the day was madness (delayed flights, rescheduled the interview throughout the day) it ended up being super casual, at an airport bar and was a really great way to see if I fit well with the vibe of the company. For me its always about making a connection with the team and with the people I’ll be working directly with. If you’re going to be working under someone for years to come you want to be sure you can get along well beyond just completing the tasks assigned!
ToriMarch 11, 2015 at 2:29 pm
Good one, Angela! I think that establishing those connections can make such a difference!
SaganMarch 10, 2015 at 9:56 am
Excellent tips here! Another good one is to go into the interview with the concept of just having a conversation – that can be especially valuable if you’re nervous about doing an interview. It can also help the whole thing flow more naturally, and feel way more comfortable for the interviewee.
I would also recommend that at the end of the interview, you confirm when you’ll hear from them, and if they’ll be contacting you or if you’ll contact them, and so on. Logistics are important to sort out.
ToriMarch 11, 2015 at 2:27 pm
Yes Sagan! Such a great tip about just viewing the interview as a conversation. That tends to take some of the pressure off 🙂
Gema DiazMarch 10, 2015 at 10:16 am
Good tips. I have never heard of Glassdoor, I will check it out. Asking questions shows you researched the company and ot ahows your interested too.
ToriMarch 11, 2015 at 2:28 pm
Glassdoor is full of tons of great information. I would definitely recommend checking them out!
SherMarch 10, 2015 at 10:23 am
Awesome tips! When I used to job hunt (I’ve been my own boss for quite a long time now), I always researched the company (as you suggested). Worked like a charm!
YaitzaMarch 10, 2015 at 11:01 am
Awesome tips.. I think presence is important as well, to make sure that you speak clearly and appear confident. Thanks for sharing
Anna | richaskingsMarch 10, 2015 at 11:24 am
Glassdoor was soo helpful for me in my job search. Other than that, preparation, just like you said! My husband I rehearsed the questions I knew I could expect to be asked until they were natural. My interviews were terrifying but they went wonderfully!
KElseyMarch 10, 2015 at 12:12 pm
Interviews… they are nerve wracking, exciting, stressful, overwhelming, and fun all at the same time. These tips are great to remember forever! Thanks for sharing!
Caitlyn HummelMarch 10, 2015 at 3:48 pm
This was a great refresher 🙂 Have some openings I’m goin after soon and need to get back in this mindframe!
Ashley ServisMarch 10, 2015 at 4:50 pm
I love these tips! I will be pinning this for future use. Thanks for sharing!
ToriMarch 11, 2015 at 2:27 pm
Thanks for the pin, Ashley! I hope that it’s helpful for you in the future 🙂
Rebecca @ Strength and SunshineMarch 10, 2015 at 6:33 pm
Great tips! You’ve got to “know” the company and you MUST present yourself well with confidence, eye contact, and friendliness!
ToriMarch 11, 2015 at 2:26 pm
Definitely agree with presenting yourself well. It’s amazing how quickly people make impressions of you!
CarolineMarch 10, 2015 at 8:45 pm
Those are really great tips for someone looking for a job. I’ve been working at the same company for over 20 years. I forgot all about that.
Tara JoyMarch 10, 2015 at 11:06 pm
I really needed these tips- thank you!! I definitely need to start practicing more for when I start interviewing here soon!
Lou @ Mommy SanestMarch 10, 2015 at 11:44 pm
My favorite go-to question for an interviewer (when I’m the interviewee) is some version of “What does success look like in the role you’re hiring for.” It sounds smart and forces them to give you more information about what they are really looking for.
ToriMarch 11, 2015 at 2:26 pm
Oooo I like that question! I think that it’s always great when you can get inside information from the employer 🙂
AndiMarch 11, 2015 at 3:34 pm
These are great tips. Glassdoor is a definite must for me. I also Google everyone I am going to interview with (if I know the names ahead of time) to see what they are like, it has definitely worked in my favor but you have to be careful with how you use the information!