You put in the blood, sweat, and tears; now it’s time to put that degree to good use! Getting an interview for your dream position is no easy feat, and you should congratulate yourself. Just remember that the hard work isn’t over quite yet: you’ll need to nail your interview in order to land that dream job. The interview process can be incredibly intimidating, even for the most confident extroverts. You get shuffled around rooms, struggling to remember names as you meet with each person and attempt to make a good impression.
A bad case of nerves can throw all of your preparation out the window, leaving you stammering for answers you could have otherwise come up with in your sleep. Before you go in for your big day, read through these essential interview tips and set yourself up for success. If you keep these things in mind (and remember to breathe!), you’ll be ready to knock the socks off your interview panel and secure the role you’ve dreamed of for so long.
- Dress for success. Hopefully this one goes without saying. Appearance matters, and you should look your best for your interview. Put on a professional ensemble that’s neutral in color; you want to be remembered for your talents, not for your garish outfit. Applying for a job at a surf company probably has a different dress code than Morgan Stanley on Wall Street, but you should give it some effort no matter what. Iron out those wrinkles the night before, eat a nutritious breakfast, and give yourself enough time beforehand to shake off those groggy eyes.
- Research ahead of time. If you’re trying to sell yourself as a good fit for the role, you’ll benefit by doing a bit of research in advance. Learn the organization’s mission statement and speak to how it resonates with you. If there’s an online staff directory, browse through some noteworthy profiles so if you encounter them in your panel, you can comment on one of their past accomplishments and how it inspired you. You’ll be sure to score some extra bonus points. Plus, if you scope the company’s page on GlassDoor, you might even be able to read through some interview questions prior applicants faced.
- Come prepared. Preparation is another no-brainer, but it’s worth mentioning nonetheless. Practice your interview questions ahead of time so you’re not caught off guard when you’re asked to speak to former accomplishments. Consider bringing a cheat sheet with you contained one or two bullet points of both individual and team accomplishments in previous roles; you can even make copies which they can use and refer to. While this is optional, bringing additional copies of your resume is mandatory. If this is a final interview, or consecutive interview after a successful first round, there are more preparation steps you’ll need to take. If you’ve consented to a background check via a screening company like ShareAble for Hires, come prepared to explain any unsavory criminal reports or poor financial history. If they’ve asked you to bring in a portfolio (regardless of industry), be sure to bring copies of work examples for every person you’ll be speaking with. This kind of preparedness will do wonders for any first, second, or third impression.
- Build rapport. Chances are that you’re one applicant among many interviewees, in which case you’ll want to set yourself apart by building rapport with your interviewer. They’ve probably grown exhausted of asking candidates the same questions all day; imagine their surprise and delight when they receive a question posed back to them! Bring paper to take notes with, and circle back to earlier talking points to show your interest and active listening. Remember that the person sitting on the other side of the table is just a person after all, and probably uninterested in tripping you up. Act friendly and get them on your good side!
- Be confident. It can be scary, but exude an air of confidence during your interview. Don’t appear egotistic or incapable of criticism, but establish yourself as an expert in your field. Your potential employer is probably seeking a leader amongst their candidates, so demonstrate an ability to take charge. Body language helps a lot; be sure to sit up tall and maintain eye contact. Relax, act natural, and be yourself! Contrived, shallow responses will come off as artificial and insincere. After all, you’re the one who got yourself this far, and now is your moment to shine!
Be honest and put your best foot forward. Going the extra mile by taking notes and asking questions about the operation helped my get a job offer.
After the Job Interview
If your interview goes sour, simply use it as practice for the next one. This has happened to me a time or two when I knew before the interview finished that I probably wouldn’t get a call from the hiring manager in a few days. In one case, almost the entire interview was focused on teamwork, which none of the other companies had ever asked me–they only cared about me. Now, I was prepared for teamwork questions for any similar questions from other potential employers in the future.
But if you follow these tried and true strategies, chances are it could be your last interview altogether! Come locked and loaded, ready to land your dream job with these tips in mind. Your interview will but much less intimidating and the likelihood of an offer will dramatically increase.