So, you did it. You crafted the perfect resume. You highlighted all your skills. YOU LANDED AN INTERVIEW! Now what?
Here are some important tips to keep in mind before, during, and after the interviewing phase.
If you’re really serious, there’s this Advanced Interviewing Techniques course taught by the University of Maryland.
The Interview Begins Well Before the Interview Begins
Believe it or not, the interview starts way before your scheduled time. It actually starts before you are even scheduled for a time.
How can an interview start before you are even scheduled for one? Well, there is the contact that they have to make with you to even schedule the interview. Think about that process. Do you have some crazy song as your ringtone? What does your voicemail message sound like?
Hint: You should NOT have a crazy song as your ringtone (remove it if you do!) and make sure that your voicemail message is professional and polite. Having only the number is fine, just don’t have anything unprofessional (I’m thinking that one that where it says “hello? (long pause so you start talking thinking you are talking to the person only to have them cut you off with) You thought I answered didn’t you? I can’t come to the phone right now but ….” UGGGHHHHHH how frustrating! You don’t want to frustrate your potential employer.
Even if you are applying to a million dollar company or a high-level position, make friends with the assistant. Don’t think for a minute that he/she won’t tell your could-be boss what kind of impression you had on them. If you were rude, your interviewer will know it. If you brushed them off as being unimportant, they’ll be sure NOT to give you raving reviews.
Always be polite to everyone you encounter in your job search. You never know who they will be, how they could impact your chances of getting the job, or what they could do for you.
Want a list of the 12 Top Interview Questions and How to Answer Them? You can get it here!
Get Back to Basics
It doesn’t matter if you are interviewing with the most innovative company in the world. There is a time and place to be innovative. Some of those are during your interview for some roles, but you still want to adhere to some ‘basics.’ It will still largely come down to how you present yourself, in knowledge, in skill, in personality, and in person.
Dress for Success
ALWAYS dress for success. Show up to an interview in jeans (even if the rest of the staff are in jeans and it’s on a Friday afternoon) and you just may be turned down… for that reason. Why? Employers expect prospective employees to dress appropriately for an interview. Anything less will show lack of effort.
Your appearance is the very first thing that your interviewer will notice when they greet you. Make sure that you’re testing your outfit in both a sitting and standing position. I’ve seen way too many interviewers not test their clothes when they are sitting down. You may not always be behind a desk or table.
Be On Time & Present to Your Interview… No Matter What
Do a drive-by a few days before your interview so that you know exactly where you are going to go. Take traffic into consideration. If possible, drive to your destination around the time when you will be driving there the day of. This should give you a better indication of traffic patterns rather than driving there late at night.
It is expected that you will be prompt to your interview. “Getting lost” or “stuck in traffic” is not always acceptable.
Silence (or turn off) your cell phone to eliminate distractions. By silence, I mean completely silence. No vibrate either… hearing your phone vibrate is almost as distracting as it ringing. And feeling it vibrate in your pocket may make you lose your train of thought during a pivotal answer.
Know the Company
Research the company. Try to understand the role that you are applying for. If there is a prescreening process to your interview, this is the perfect place to gather as much information as possible about both. Not only will it make you seem genuine, but it will also give you a great understanding of the company, how it operates, the role, and maybe what they make be looking for!
Touch base with any current employees if you know them (or if you can get in touch with any on LinkedIn.) If you don’t know them personally, be sure to express your interest in working for the company but keep your conversation to that of an educational one. Current employees will quickly be turned off by practical strangers saying “put in a good word for me!”
Be prepared to answer the questions of “Why did you apply to this particular role?” (Hint: “Because I wanted to work for x company and I thought this would be an ‘in'” is not a good answer. They are hiring for a specific role, not someone that is clearly using that role as a springboard to other places within the company. Looking to grow is one thing, but they don’t want to be going through this process all over again in 6 months when you move to a different department.) “Why are you the best fit for the role?”
Be Confident (but not overly confident)
Keep your confidence. Maintain eye contact. Your handshake should be firm. Offer a friendly smile and polite greeting.
Sit when asked to do so. Don’t barge into a room and into a seat right away without the proper greetings etc. Be sure to sincerely thank the interviewer for taking time out of their busy schedule to interview you.
Don’t be overconfident. “Nothing” is NOT the appropriate answer to “What’s your weakness?” Everyone has a weakness, and whether you take the stance of giving a “positive weakness” or not, NEVER say that you don’t have one. Only jerks think they don’t have a weakness… and no one wants to hire a jerk. “Being a perfectionist” is a boring, predicted, and annoying answer to the weakness question. Instead, take a weakness that you had and demonstrate what you did to overcome it. “Due to lack of practice, I lack public speaking skills. A few months ago, I joined some local TED groups to help me improve my skills, give me practice, and overcome my fears. It’s been amazing.” An answer like this shows that a.) you’re authentic and not scripted, b.) you recognize your shortcomings and c.) you actively take the initiative to get better at what you lack.
I don’t care if this is your first interview for your very first job. Sell yourself! But be honest. Interviewers will be able to see right through you if you aren’t truthful. If they catch you in an untruth, all chances that you’ve had for landing the job up to that point have been shattered. If they don’t catch it, you could be setting yourself up to be fired in the future when you can’t perform to expectations. Honesty is key!
Your prospective employer is going to be interested in who you are, what you can do for them, and why they should choose you over anyone else. Keep your interaction positive (absolutely no crying!) and don’t give your previous (or current) employer/boss a bad review. You don’t have to give them a good one, but definitely, don’t run their name through the mud. Odds are, your interviewer won’t know “the inside”, and will innately question what you did to deserve whatever treatment it was. (“Why are you leaving your current position?” should not be answered with “My boss is terrible and the company works their employees like dogs.” A better response while still remaining truthful could be something like “I’m looking for a role with hours that will work better for my family and I. Right now I’m lacking a good work/life balance.” )
If you lack experience, make up for it in an unmatched eagerness to learn and confidence.
Come prepared with a few questions ahead of time. Ask questions as you have them along the way. Questions are never a bad thing (unless you are asking something they already told you clearly. So pay attention!
Ask about employee morale, the reporting structure, expectations, time off, learning opportunities…. anything that you are interested in.
Salary should not be one of those questions. You won’t be offered the job without knowing the salary, so all things come with time. Benefits may or may not be gone over at the interview. If they aren’t, you should get those as part of your job offer also (and if you don’t, then the job offer is definitely the time to ask!)
Interview Them as Much as They are Interviewing You
Remember that an interview isn’t just for your interviewer to find out if your a good fit for their company and job role. It’s also important for you to find out if that company and job role is a good fit for you, your family, and your life. It’s not doing you OR the employer any good if you take the job only to decide a month into it that you hate it for something that you could have found out at the interview.
For more career-related articles from Alabaster Ambition click here.
Some may view it as cliché but DO send that thank you email or note after the interview. Thank them for their time. Reiterate why you would be a good fit for the role. If you made a personal connection during the interview (you should try to), put that in your note. (For example, if your interviewer told that they (or their wife) just had a baby, “and enjoy that little boy!” can be just the thoughtful kind of thing to give you the edge.)
- Dress for success
- Know the company
- Be confident
- Sell yourself
- Ask Questions
- Interview Them
- Follow up
Finally, if you don’t land the offer, learn from it. What can you do better next time? Take what you learn and apply it to your next interview. Don’t give up!
Don’t forget to grab your list of 12 Top Interview Questions and How to Answer Them
What helps you during an interview?