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!