Before the Interview
1. Do Your Homework: Find out everything you can about the job, skills required and the company. You never know whether they will ask what you know about the company. Be ready.
2. Practice: Check out some practice questions either in a bookstore, at the library or on the Internet. Then think of what you’ll say and try answering the questions in the mirror or using a recorder so you can evaluate yourself.
1. Be Early, if Possible, But Don’t Be Late: There is nothing worse than waiting on pins and needles before an interview, except the Recruiter or Hiring Manager or Interview Panel waiting on you!
2. Dress to Impress: You don’t have to rent a tuxedo or buy an evening gown, but you should go dressed to impress. Regardless of the type of job. I hired a lot of people for entry-level positions where a uniform was worn on the job, but when the applicant wore a suit – I have to admit, it impressed me.
3. Shake Hands, Unless … If shaking hands is uncomfortable or foreign to you. But, if the Recruiter holds out his or her hand, shake it and whether it is a man or a woman, shake with your full hand, don’t just grasp a woman’s fingers but give a full hand shake to the men! If you are being introduced to a panel of interviewers, shake each of their hands, say “It’s nice to meet you, (insert name) which will help you to remember names.
4. Body Language: Sit up straight, lean a bit forward and rest your hands in front of you on the table, if there is one, or in your lap. Don’t sit the same way you might sit hanging around with the family or your friends. Don’t slouch. Don’t lean back and get relaxed; it will appear that you really don’t want the job. Oh and, by the way, don’t worry if you are nervous. Being nervous is good – it shows the interviewer(s) that you are really interested in the job and not just going through the motions.
5. Eye Contact: Make good eye contact, but look away now and again because staring into the eyes of another can make the other person uncomfortable. If there is an interview panel, look and LISTEN while the person is asking the question but then look at each of the interviewers while you are answering to ensure they all feel included.
6. It’s Not Time to Be Humble; Sell Yourself: BUT don’t be cocky or arrogant. There is a fine line between confident and cocky. At the same time, you don’t want to say, “I don’t know” and miss an opportunity. If you’re not sure what the difference is, ask someone who you trust to tell you the truth what they think of an answer you’re practicing. If they ask you talk about a strength that makes you a good fit for the position, don’t say you never make mistakes or talk about how you did all the work in your previous job and everyone else was lazy. By the way, only say positive things about previous jobs, if asked or given an opportunity to talk about things you’ve done in the past that apply; it will make you look bitter and negative. Be ready to ask the age-old question, “Why should I hire you?” Some people still ask this question, or depending on the job and the industry, they could even ask you something like, “If you were an animal, what animal would you be and why?” I know it may sound strange, but even if they don’t ask you will feel better knowing that you were ready in case they did!
7. Turn a Negative into a Positive: For example, if the interview question asks you to admit to a strength as well as a weakness; one of the worst things you can say is that you can’t think of any. You’ll make points if your answers are well thought-out and intelligent. Saying “I don’t know” or “I can’t think of anything” because you are trying not to make yourself look bad. Here’s an example of a good answer: “I tend to be a bit of a perfectionist, but I am aware of it so I focus and make sure not to get stuck in the details and use this character trait to help me catch my own mistakes before anyone else does.” Of course, you’ll want to put that in words that feel natural for you to say … in your own words.
8. Think Before You Speak: Listen carefully to each question, don’t stop listening halfway through the question to start planning your answer. Once the full question has been asked, it’s ok to take 5 seconds to put together your thoughts before you begin to speak. One of the most important keys to good communication is listening and it is a very sought-after skill. If the interviewers think you’re not listening because you missed the point of the question or if you keep asking to have the questions repeated (which, by the way, is ok to do), you might not get the job of your dreams.
9. Like I said in the previous question … it is ok to ask to have a question repeated, especially if it is particularly lengthy or has more than one part to it – For example, this kind of a question may be worth asking to have repeated: “Tell me about a time when you had to overcome a particularly difficult situation. What was the situation and difficulty? What did you do to overcome the difficulty? And finally, what was the outcome?
10. Tell a Story to Show You Can Do It: Even if you don’t have the exact skills they’re looking for, try to find a way to explain that you have skills that are applicable to the job you seek.
11. Don’t Talk Endlessly, hoping to stumble on the right answer: Get to the point, but explain yourself thoroughly and give examples. For example, “About two years ago, when I was the Warehouse Manager at ABC Company, I saved $2,000 a month by implementing a computerized system that tracked our inventory so that we didn’t have items on the shelves that we couldn’t use. But DON’T LIE or MAKE THINGS UP – be honest but don’t bury yourself by saying things that are not complimentary.
12. Don’t Wait for the Interviewers: If you see the interviewer is furiously writing notes, trying to keep up with what you’re saying, don’t stop and wait for him/her to catch up. Just make sure you are talking at a normal pace, not too fast.
13. Question at the End: I’ve read a lot of things that are supposedly good to ask at the end of the interview when the interviewer/recruiter asks, “Do you have any questions for me? I had one applicant ask me how much money I made and if I liked working for the company and another who asked what my career goals were. Neither of these questions is relevant or appropriate. Sometimes, it’s just best to ask what you really want to know, be honest – “When do you think you will be making a decision and what would be the best way for me to contact you to follow-up on the status?” Don’t try to dazzle everyone with the cool question you came up with, it might backfire. Make sure you’re not answering a question they already talked about because, once again, it will look like you’re not listening.
After the Interview
1. Be Patient; Don’t Be a Nuisance: I used to hear that calling constantly keeps you on the hiring manager’s mind, but you will become a nuisance.
2. Follow Up; Appropriately: Following up is expected. If the interviewer or hiring manager hears from you too soon, you may seem desperate and waiting too long may cause you to appear as if you are not interested.
I hope this helps everyone who reads this. Some of the tips included above may seem obvious, but sometimes the things that are most obvious are great reminders for us, especially before an interview. Remember you’re there (at the interview) to tell them why they should hire you and explain what skills and character traits you bring to the job.
Good luck! Consider interviewing as a way to hone your skills. Maybe you are offered an interview for a job that you are no longer interested in, but going to the interview is very good practice. And finally, everyone get nervous before an interview — if you don’t, you probably don’t want the job!