Interviews are stressful. The idea of sitting in front of somebody and explaining why you’re an ideal fit for their business or company can be nerve-racking, and it’s tough to stop thinking of all the things that might go wrong. Preparation goes a long way, though, and it’s possible (and recommended) to do as much preparation as possible before you sit down to talk about why you’re right for a position.
Of course, preparation is tough. It can take a substantial amount of time to research even one position, tailor a CV and cover letter for that specific job, and then go through whatever other steps are necessary for a particular location’s application process. With jobseekers normally sending out their applications to many different places at the same time, hunting for work can become a full-time job in itself.
When you begin to start going to interviews, the most important thing is to stay calm and be personable. People who stand out as seemingly difficult to work with, in all likelihood, are not going to be asked back for another interview. Companies want to hire the best fit not just for the tasks the position demands, but also for the environment of the workplace. An interview is all about making the best possible impression with the people you want to hand over pay checks twice a month.
Attitude is a big part of it, but there are many other important elements to consider. You only get one chance at a first impression, so it’s crucial to make sure you seem like not just a good pick, but the obvious one. Here are a few easy ways to make yourself look exceptional while interviewing.
10. Have Good Body Language/Eye Contact
Trustworthiness is a great quality, and interviewees should want to make sure that they come across as reliable and honest people. One of the first indicators of whether or not a person is trustworthy, perhaps surprisingly, is that person’s body language.
Steady, confident eye contact (but no staring) is an indicator of confidence, as is a relaxed, but sturdy, bearing. Maintaining a straight posture, keeping hands above the table, and being unafraid to look the interviewer in the eye all help to make a person seem self-assured. Being relaxed, and having a smile (just don’t smile too much) make interviewers see you as a friendly person, unlikely to bring lots of stress into the office.
Businesses want someone who is competent, someone who can roll with the punches and make smart decisions, and body language is key to communicating that type of personality. It’s okay to make a mistake or two during an interview (thought better not to). The interviewer hopefully won’t remember the brief moment you slouched – not with the great vibe they got from you the rest of the time.
9. Be Punctual
Not being on time is a deal-breaker. Many qualified and able people who show up late to interviews do not get the job. If they can’t bother to show up on time to their big chance to impress a company, what does that say about them in the rest of their lives? It’s important to note that, in this case “on time” actually means 10-15 minutes before the interview is scheduled to begin.
If for some reason you’re not able to come in on time, then make sure you call, or at the very least email, the interviewer. Nobody likes to wait on others, and especially not when it’s a wait to decide if they want to give you money or not.
8. Have A Good Resume
A resume will reveal all of an applicant’s past accomplishments, and it will give the interviewer an idea of the kind of experience the person brings to the table. Even though the things on a resume don’t mean as much as how a person’s ability to do the work work, the resume itself should be a proud testament to just how much experience that person can offer a company.
That said, it’s important to keep things at least a little modest. Pride is great, but bragging is not. You may have a 4.0 GPA (unlikely that the business will care) and a PhD, but you have to be able to work well with others in a professional manner. A person who is too grandiose about themselves is unlikely to be the right fit.
7. Be Presentable
Appearance does matter. Many enjoy sitting around working in sweatpants, but that’s just not acceptable in a professional environment. Shorts-wearers and those who like to roll up their sleeves will also need to go against their preference and stick to a more appropriate office look.
The basics: be neat, clean, wear clothes that fit, and have a decent haircut. It’s also a good idea to shave, avoid strong cologne or perfume, and to have an idea of what kind of attire is expected. Interviewing at a newspaper might require nothing more than chinos, a shirt, and maybe a blazer. Interviewees looking for a position on Wall Street, though, might need to put on a snazzy suit.
6. Do Your Research
To that end, take some time to study the company and the people who work there. Gaining an understanding of what the company stands for and is looking for is a sure way to not only look invested, but also to make sure you have plenty to talk about with the interviewer. A quick Google search, or a look through other social media websites, is often all it takes to get a pretty decent grasp of potential coworkers and the company. Use this information to your advantage – the more you know about the field you are entering, the better able you will be to answer any questions.
5. Be Socially Aware
A work environment is not a bar or social gathering, and you cannot say just whatever comes out of your mouth. In fact, saying whatever you feel would probably get you in trouble. It may be perceived as harassment, and if nothing else, the people who constantly say things that make others uncomfortable get labeled as being “inappropriate.”
Understand that people have limits, and it is important to know where your coworkers stand emotionally. You can usually do this by reading their social cues, meaning knowing how you can interact with others should be intuitive. While everyone wants their coworkers to get the job done, nobody wants to deal with someone who doesn’t know how to behave.
4. Ask Questions
One of the best things you can do is ask questions during an interview. Even if you know a lot, there is always something you won’t know about a company, but could.
Sometimes asking the right question can help you grasp an understanding of the specifics of the job. Also, by asking the right questions, interviewees leave their potential employers with the impression that they’re speaking to a person whose mind is active and interested in the opportunity. A good direction: ask about how best you could contribute to the company, and not about if or why the company is right for you.
3. Have Good Manners
This goes right along with body language, in that it’s incredibly important to the first impression made on an interviewer.
Be appreciative of the opportunity. Thanking the people who interview you for their time is expected. While the jury is out on whether or not a thank-you note is of benefit, it certainly can’t hurt. It’s certainly better to be one of nine people who sent a note in than it is to be the one who didn’t.
And the rest is just regular manners. Saying please and thank you if offered or requesting water, coffee, or tea, for example, is something that every interviewee should probably do.
2. Prepare A Mental List Of Strengths And Weaknesses
At some point or another, everyone gets asked a variation on the question –“What are your strengths/weaknesses?” Remember to be honest, but be sure to turn negatives into positives. When potential employers ask about weaknesses, they aren’t looking for a list of reasons not to hire their interviewee. They want to see how well that person can acknowledge a fault, and if any steps are being taken to address that fault. Everybody has strengths and weaknesses, but the best have a plan to improve themselves.
1. Get Feedback
Sometimes an interview might seem to go quite well, but is still met with rejection. Taking a moment to reflect on what may have happened is a good idea, but sometimes it’s difficult to think of what went wrong. If you don’t get the job, follow up with the person you spoke to and politely ask why. There’s no guarantee of a response, but there’s a chance that the person will take the time to give you some – likely very helpful- advice on how best to improve your interviewing ability.
Take their notes in stride, and thank them for taking the time to reach out with their advice. You may not agree, but that’s irrelevant. They are giving you insight into how others perceive you, and that is something you can’t argue against.
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