Have you ever gone into something thinking, “I’ll just wing it?” Flashbacks to my college exams are going through my mind right now. In the hiring industry, we see candidates going into an interview with that mentality. Even though they failed to research the company, the duties and responsibilities of the role or dress in appropriate interview attire, they think they will receive a job offer. Preparation is in my opinion the most important step in landing a job. Rather than relying on luck for your next interview, here are several tips to consider when preparing for your next interview:
Do Your Research Beforehand
- Research the company including checking the company website and googling them. This will not only make you feel more comfortable during the interview, but it will also prepare you to show genuine interest in the company.
- Research the Interviewer: You can Google your interviewer’s name or use LinkedIn to find out their background. It is helpful to know how they started their career, their educational background, and what they do in their current role.
- Make sure you know where the company is located before the interview. If you have enough time, plan out a route to the company a day or two prior to make sure there are no high traffic areas or road blocks. I’ve even heard taking a screen shot of the directions in case your phone has trouble pulling up directions.
- Review your resume and work experiences the night before. Be ready to explain past career accomplishments with specific information targeted toward this company’s job description. Think of 2-3 examples of when you went above and beyond on the job. Know your strengths!
Present Yourself in the Best Light
- Dress appropriately and plan your wardrobe choice the evening before the interview. Remember that there is only one chance to make a good first impression. Even though many companies have a “business casual” dress code, be conservative in your attire. I suggest a conservative business suit (dark colors are best) with clean/polished dress shoes and a well-groomed hairstyle. Nails should be clean and trimmed, with minimal cologne or perfume, and empty pockets. I would highly recommend no gum, candy, or smoking cigarettes before the interview. There should be no visible body piercing (nose rings, eyebrow rings, etc.). Cell phone or watch alarms should be turned off before entering the building.
- Allow sufficient time for the interview. Plan to arrive exactly ten minutes before your actual appointment (too early is inconvenient for the interviewer) and being late can show lack of discipline.
Practice Makes Perfect
- Practice interviewing with someone you know closely before an interview. Practice maintaining eye, giving a firm handshake, and smiling.
- Check your posture and make sure you’re sitting up straight with a professional demeanor.
- Practice placing your hands on your lap or on the table – not fidgeting or picking at anything.
- Prepare how you will present your past employment. Avoid negative comments about past employers.
- Be careful not to bare your soul and tell tales that are personal, inappropriate, or beyond the scope of the interview.
- State your previous experience in positive terms. Even if you disagreed with a former employer, express enthusiasm for earlier jobs as much as you can.
- Be prepared to ask questions during the interview. Your questions allow the hiring manager to evaluate your priorities and interest. Insightful questions help both of you determine if your relationship will be mutually rewarding. In the first interview state your interests, but avoid questions that relate to salary, benefits, vacations, and retirement.
- Bring a portfolio with your written questions. It shows preparation and interest. Good questions to ask may revolve around training, tenure of employees, the company’s future growth, etc.
Take Control of the Interview
- Again, practice with someone you know closely. Companies want to hire candidates that are interested in working for them, not just those who want a job. Rehearse showing your interest in the job! Don’t be afraid to ask for the job at the conclusion of the interview. “What is the next step?” “When will a decision be made?”
Now go land that job!
Written By: Shawn Kinard