Creating a resume and a cover letter is always a hassle. However, when they work and you do get invited in for an interview, you have to kick it in to high gear in order to make your mark. Interviewing is extremely important, and will make or break your chances. Even if employers interview someone as an afterthought, a positive interview experience can land them the job. Below are 10 tips to help you perform your best at your next interview.
1. Research the company. Some people never know anything about a company when they head in for the interview, and this reflects poorly. Show that you have a serious interest in the company, and that you cannot wait to learn more about it. This passion will become infectious and interviewers will appreciate the time you have spent learning about the company.
2. Prepare questions and answers. There are common interview questions such as, “What are your weaknesses,” that are asked for reasons other than the answer. While the answer matters, they also want to know if your confidence can be shaken, or if you are able to carry on with aplomb. Be ready for these difficult questions and practice your answers. Additionally, interviewers will ask if you have any questions. You should prepare one or two interesting questions that will let the interviewer know that you are smart and logical, and truly taking the job potential seriously.
3. Dress neatly and conservatively. If they say business casual, or business professional, dress as such. It is always better to be overdressed than underdressed, but arriving in a full suit when they say “casual to business casual” is overdoing it.
4. Arrive 10-15 minutes early. Though your interviewer may be late, and you may be waiting for 20, 30, or even 40 minutes if you arrive early, it has its benefits as well. You could show up before another interviewer, who happens to be late, save them time by being prepared to interview first, and make a much better first impression than your competition. Even if they are not aware that you show up early, they will know if you arrive late. Planning to arrive early also ensures that you do not arrive late. If possible, drive there once before the interview so you know exactly where it is and how long it takes to get there. Don’t forget to account for traffic!
5. Make eye contact. As often as possible, make eye contact with your interviewer. This not only shows confidence, but also lets them know that you are listening intently to what they have to say. Do not stare at them, but engage with your eyes.
6. Shake hands at first greeting. Do not stand there awkwardly clutching your purse or interview portfolio. Be the first to reach out your hand in a formal greeting, shake hands firmly, but not in an intimidating way, and smile.
7. Answer questions directly. While there are some things that are better left unsaid, answer as openly and honestly to questions, and provide a direct answer rather than beating around the bush. This shows that you can take direction. If you avoid the question it connotes the idea that you have something to hide from the interviewer, which is never a good thing.
8. Show how you can benefit the company. This is something you should prepare when you prep questions and answers. Make sure you use the job description as a guideline, as well as the company’s statement of purpose or goal to help you. Match your skills and experiences with the job description.
9. Remain professional, no matter what. Do not try and be funny, and never make inappropriate comments. It is okay to be witty if that is the type of personality you have, but try and keep all of your comedy and goofiness in a box. It is much safer there.
10. Bring a hard copy of your resume and references. Not only does this show that you are prepared, but it also makes the next step much easier. Maybe they do not exactly remember who you are when you arrive, or maybe they have lost their copy of your resume. If this happens, and you have a hard copy, you will probably get an “I like you already,” kind of look from the interviewer.
Follow these tips and remain confident on interview day and you will perform your best.