Cue the sweaty palms, the sleepless night before, and the fidgeting because you have an interview coming up. The interview is usually the first impression you will make with some of the people who will make the decision if you are the right person for the job you have been dreaming of. I’m not going to sit here and tell you that it’s not a big deal and everything will go perfectly, because … well, it probably won’t. And that’s okay. But there are some things you can do to make sure you’re as prepared as you can be and give yourself the best chance possible at landing your new job.
Yes, even after you’re done with school, studying is needed. Learning all you can about the company you’re interviewing with will show your interest in the company. Finding different things should be as easy as a simple Google search. Recent articles or blog posts about the company are great spots to get this information and gain insights into the future of the company.
Dress the Part
Typical knowledge says to wear a suit and tie to every single interview. However, this isn’t always the best advice. My advice to all of the candidates I work with is to go a step above. Are you interviewing at a company that lets their employees wear jeans and a T-shirt every day? Wear dress pants/khakis and a button-down shirt. The company requires business casual dress? Wear a suit and tie. To find this out be sure you ask the HR or recruiter contact you are in contact with for this role.
Recruiters are Your Friend
Sometimes recruiters get a bad rap. I will be the first to admit that this “rap” is well deserved at times. As with any profession, there are some “bad eggs” that give the rest of the industry a bad name. In general, a recruiter helps you find jobs that match your background and put you in contact with the individual that does the hiring for that role. Sounds like someone you should utilize, doesn’t it? The trick is finding the good ones. Find the recruiters that keep in touch with you on a regular basis. This helps keep them the most up to date on your situation so they can be the most efficient on a job search if needed.
A good recruiter should be able to offer his/her expertise on multiple subjects related to your job search. A few examples would be your resume, your LinkedIn profile, and interviews. In my opinion, they should offer this to you, but if not, don’t be afraid to ask them specific questions about anything related to your job search.
Keep Your Body Language in Check
Body language is an important part of any first impression and it’s no different in an interview. Three of the first actions you should check are:
- Posture: Sitting up straight helps you look, and feel, confident. You will feel like you can handle anything that’s thrown at you. Sometimes feeling that confidence can be all the difference you need to beat the competition.
- Facial Expression: This might seem obvious, but can be the most costly if it isn’t managed. Smile! Act like you’re enjoying yourself. Because even if you’re a nervous wreck, a smile will make it seem like it’s walk in the park! Positive facial expressions help exude positivity, which is a trait many if not all, managers look for.
- Hands and Arms: Yes, I want you to think about your hands and arms while you’re in an interview. Crossed arms can make you seem closed off and not willing to open up. And slouching with your hands on the armrests of your chair can make you seem unimpressed and as if you’re not taking the interview seriously. I always recommend hands on the table in front of you with locked fingers.
Some interviews can last anywhere from one all the way up to four hours! There is a good chance you’ll be thinking about something other than the question that is being asked of you at some point during that span. Sitting by a window and a nice sports car drives by? You ponder if you can afford it after you get the job. It will be easier to pay for at that point! Or how about you hear a loud noise in the office and you start making a list of all the things it could have been. Realize you’re doing that and bring yourself back to center as soon as possible!
You also need to have copies of your resume handy for two reasons. First, if the person you’re interviewing with has had “one of those days” and forgets to bring their copy of your resume along you will come to the rescue with a backup copy. The last thing you want is that manager spending 20 minutes of your allotted 60-minute time slot running back to the office to print that resume. Also, if another manager or someone on their team pops in unexpectedly. You want to have a copy for them. This will avoid them potentially taking the other decision makers’ copy away from them.
Answer Questions with a Real Life Example
Anyone can answer a question with a “yes” or a “no.” While I do not condone that at all, for obvious reasons I hope, I feel answering a question with a real-life example is the best way to answer for one simple reason. If you do that, you’re telling the interviewer that you’ve already had experience handling that problem, or reaching that sales goal, so you should be able to do it again! This is huge in an interview because, more than likely, you will require less training. And that will save your boss, and the company, a lot of time and money which is exactly what most bosses and companies want!
Interview the Interviewer
As a staffing professional, one thing that I think is the biggest indicator of an interviewer thinking the interview went well is how they end it. Did they ask what your schedule was like next week for a second interview? Were you asked what the earliest date was that you could start? While it’s important to me how the interviewer ended it, it should be equally important for you as a candidate to end the interview strong. One way to do this is to have pre-identified questions to ask. These questions will show a lot of initiative on your part. I recommend asking some about the company and some about the how the interviewer got where he/she is at today (within the company). Good questions will leave a lasting impression with the interviewer so they remember you when they’re making the decision.
Good luck with your interview! If you have any questions, post them in the comments below!