Interviewing is intimidating, so it’s no wonder you’ve found yourself here, on a blog designed to prepare you for the Q&A. Good for you – you’ve taken the first step! Now nail down the rest through these top 8 interview tips, the do’s and don’ts.
Interview Tip #1: Do Dress for Success
It may sound cliché, but you should always dress for the job you want, not the job you have. Like it or not, first impressions are largely based on appearance. In fact, Psychological Science states that “a series of experiments by Princeton psychologists Janine Willis and Alexander Todorov reveal that all it takes is a tenth of a second to form an impression of a stranger from their face.”
While you can’t choose your face, you can choose your wardrobe, and your wardrobe might say more about you than even your practised speech. So ensure that your interview-day outfit is freshly pressed, clean, professional and well-fitted. Don’t over-accessorize or over-perfume. And make sure to brush your teeth and wear deodorant. Basically, practise good hygiene and tactful, conservative dress.
Interview Tip #2: Don’t Be Late
According to a survey by monster.com, 96% of managers agree that a candidate’s timekeeping highly influences their first impression. This means that being late to that all-important interview can make or break whether you get the job or not.
Arrive at least 15 minutes prior to your scheduled interview, shut off your cellphone and prepare for your interview questions. If you’re observant, you may even be able to hone in on the workplace dynamics and, if relevant, discuss them in your interview (example: “I’ve noticed your staff is lively and interactive. This is my favorite type of environment, and I’ve had experience managing in a way that encourages interactive teamwork…”).
Interview Tip #3: Do Your Research
There’s no greater turnoff for a hiring manager than when a candidate doesn’t seem to know a thing about the company or position to which they’re applying. As with your resume and cover letter, your interview should demonstrate that you’ve done your research and, not only do you know what the employer wants, you can also deliver their wants like a champ. In this digital age, with all necessary information at your fingertips, it’s almost inexcusable not to come prepared.
Also consider researching the specific individual(s) who are conducting the interview to highlight any of their own achievements or relate to them in some way. Doing so will make you feel better prepared and confident, and confidence is killer for any interview.
Interview Tip #4: Don’t Wing It
Again, with so many valuable online resources available, there’s no excuse to come unpractised to an interview. Practise makes perfect, after all.
Some may be fabulous at performing off the cuff, but most of us will freeze up when put on the spot, so it’s a much better strategy to practise performing your interview responses. If you have a friend who doesn’t mind playing the role of hiring manager, practise your responses aloud to them and receive their critique with grace.
Interview Tip #5: Do Sell Yourself
If you’re not a good salesman, you’d better hone up on your sales skills, because in the business of interviews and hiring, you must sell yourself as a hot commodity and not as a generic brand.
Yes, you are a brand. So promote yourself as one.
Think about the brands you like and why you like them. What is it about your favourite brand that sells it to you? Does the branding give the product a certain competence that sets it apart from other products in its field? Does its quirky personality simply fit within your scope of preference?
Once you’ve answered these questions, apply this marketability to yourself. Highlight your personality if it fits within this particular company culture. Brand yourself with competence. Set yourself apart. And then close the deal with specific examples of your relevant experience – including stats and numbers – wherever you can.
Interview Tip #6: Don’t Forget Body Language
Your body language speaks volumes. By now, everyone knows that crossed arms make you appear closed, slouching gives you a look of incompetence and fidgeting makes you seem high-strung. Potential employers will absorb all of this, even if only on a subconscious level, and it will contribute to their first impression of you.
Be aware of how you’re presenting yourself through body language. Smile, nod, sit up straight, listen actively and have good eye contact. This type of body language exudes confidence and competence.
Take a look at this TedTalk by social psychologist, Amy Cuddy, for more pointers on body language.
Interview Tip #7: Do Ask Questions
Employers give you an option to ask questions at the end of an interview, and it’s painfully awkward if you can’t come up with anything. You don’t want to appear passive, so be prepared to ask insightful questions. Doing so will show the employer that you’re interested in the job and the company, while making you a more active participant in the interview.
Coming up short on what to ask? For some inspiration, consider Forbe’s list of questions you might ask in a job interview.
Interview Tip #8: Don’t Ignore Staff
Not only should you make a good impression with the hiring manager, you should make one on the whole office. Don’t be rude to the receptionist or smile frigidly at potential colleagues. Be warm and authentic to the whole staff. Leave a positive first impression all around. When you land the job, your transition will be that much easier.