Interviewing is a skill all on its own, and it can sometimes be a nerve-racking endeavor if you’ve never interviewed before or if you have very little experience with it. Today we’re going to go over some key tips that can help you on your interview, whether you’re a seasoned professional or if you’re about to embark on your very first interview. Let’s begin.
There’s more to being prepared for your interview than picking out some slick clothes and showing up on time. It would be beneficial for you to conduct some research into your potential employer, as well as into the field you are applying for. Most companies include their mission statement, core values, and leadership profiles on their websites, and this is a perfect place to start. During your interview, keep these elements in mind and do your best to demonstrate how you would uphold the company’s mission and values, without overtly stating so.
Along with your research, come up with a set of questions that directly relate to the company and its culture, your potential job responsibilities, and the good ol’ mission statement and values. The interviewer will inevitably ask if you have any questions, and these are the types of questions you should ask, as it will show that you’ve done your homework and that you are genuinely interested in making a difference at the organization.
Lastly, take the information gathered from your research into consideration and make any necessary adjustments to your resume. Familiarize yourself with your resume so that you’re prepared to answer any questions about it and when you go to your interview, bring a few extra copies just in case.
Make a Good First Impression
This one seems a bit obvious since we wouldn’t want to make a bad first impression, but there are still some things we must consider. When deciding what to wear on your interview, try to dress appropriately for the role that is a level or so above the one you are interviewing for. Take care not to wear anything that could be distracting or otherwise too far on the eccentric side. You want to look professional, but your personality and skills should be the most memorable things about you – not your cool Garfield tie.
Do your best to remain calm and relaxed, smile, and be pleasant. Practice good posture while standing and sitting down, as it will demonstrate confidence. Maintaining eye contact will help show the interviewer that you’re trustworthy and honest, and if you’re well prepared, it will be even easier to project all of these characteristics. If you find yourself feeling anxious about your upcoming interview, you can check out our previous blog about how to lessen such effects.
Honesty is key here. You’ll likely be talking about your strengths, as well as your weaknesses. Look at this as an opportunity to demonstrate how you can bring value to the organization, while also showing that you are mindful of the areas in which you can improve. Be careful not to linger on your weak points, but don’t gloss over them either. This will show the interviewer that you’re dedicated to improving your craft, which is indicative of someone who is looking at the long-term.
Since we’ve made our preparations beforehand, we should have our handy questions at the ready. More often than not, the interviewer will save some time towards the end of the interview for your questions and if you don’t have any, it may seem as though you are uninterested or, depending on the interviewer, make you seem arrogant. Asking questions about the role you’re interviewing for, what the day-to-day workplace culture is like, or what kind of person they would like to fill the role will show that you are eager to learn more about the company and that you are excited at the prospect of making positive contributions.
The art of following up seems to get lost in the mix, what with the ease of applying to several jobs in quick succession with online job search platforms. Take note of each job you apply for, along with the date of your interview. After you’ve had your interview, give it a few days and send a follow up letter thanking the interviewer for taking the time to meet with you. Be brief, but also include a sentence or two about how much you enjoyed learning about the company, and that you look forward to hearing from them again soon. This will undoubtedly give you an edge, since not every candidate will send a follow up letter.
The follow up letter isn’t just a formality or a pleasantry; it serves another purpose. Sending a follow up letter is a nice little reminder to the company that you recently interviewed there, and can sometimes be the extra poke that reminds them of how much of a great first impression you made, and that you (yes, you!) are perfect for the role they’re trying to fill. Further, it might help you get a quicker response, as the employer may feel obligated to write you back right away.
In the event you don’t receive a response to your follow up letter, wait about two weeks and then send another letter inquiring about the status of your interview. This can also be done with ye olde telephone if you so desire; it’s your call (see what I did there?). If you still don’t hear back after your second follow up, it’s best to leave it be – we don’t want to be a nuisance and ruin the great first impression we made.
There is one last bit of advice when it comes to your preparations. If you’d like, you can conduct practice interviews with a friend or family member so that you get used to talking about your experience, your resume, and your strengths and weaknesses. With these tactics at your disposal, you’re well on your way to a successful interview and towards building confidence in yourself.