Don't have time to watch the the entire "Acing the Interview" webinar? Check out the top 10 tips from our HR pro, Lisa Shuster, and ace your next interview!
You’ve heard it before; the best way to get good at something is practice, practice, practice. This advice definitely applies to job interviewing, and not only will it make you a better interviewer, it will also help to calm your nerves. A good strategy is to look for common interview questions (a topic we’ll cover in more detail in #3) and draft responses to each, focusing on any that have a potential for difficulty or are especially important. Then practice in front of a mirror or by conducting mock interviews with a friend or loved one. By rehearsing your answers, you can improve your performance on the big day.
Along with preparing for the interview ahead of time, the other most important factor to ensure your success is research. You absolutely must investigate the role for which you are under consideration, but you should also learn more about the company itself, their top competitors, and the industry as a whole. This will allow you to present yourself as well informed and with a genuine interest in the position being discussed. Performing thorough research will also enable you to ask intelligent questions when given the opportunity.
As mentioned in #1, you must take the time to review and prepare for common interview topics/questions. There are plenty of resources online that provide lists of common questions and appropriate responses. Some sites even offer subjects that are frequently asked about by specific companies. A quick review of these questions is an easy way to get ready for a job interview and develop a set of responses that don’t sound like canned replies or empty clichés.
Take the time to identify and compile the key points you would like to convey in the interview ahead of time. This way you won’t be caught flat-footed even if the interviewer throws you a curveball. Catalog your qualifications so that you can determine how best to sell your abilities and don’t forget anything that may help make your case.
But don’t be too early either. Try to walk in the door a few minutes before the scheduled time. Make sure to give yourself plenty of travel time and plan for things like traffic jams or road construction. It’s best if you’re able to get parked and settled with plenty of time to spare so that you can do some last-minute preparation or collect your thoughts before you need to go inside and get started.
You must demonstrate confidence and practice good non-verbal communication throughout the interview: sit up straight, maintain proper eye contact, and greet your counterpart with a firm handshake. Dress as if you’re going to work – if the company is known for having a casual office environment then don’t show up in a power suit. Finally, and maybe most important depending on your ringtone, turn your cell phone off.
Try to relax as much as possible (if you can) while you converse with your interviewer and learn about your prospective position and the company itself. Don’t talk too much. Nervous and unprepared speakers have a tendency to ramble, and this will not create a good impression with the interviewer (even though it’s fairly common), so do your research and try to keep your answers short, sweet, and straight to the point.
It’s important to make sure you don’t get too comfortable (and overly familiar) during the interview. Never forget that you are in a professional setting and must behave accordingly. Use appropriate language and avoid offensive references to age, race, religion, politics, or sexual orientation.
It’s best to postpone discussing salary as long as possible and if the interviewer asks you about salary preferences, you should try to deflect and/or put the onus back on the interviewer. If your interview progresses to the point of discussing compensation, prepare beforehand by reviewing our salary negotiation article.
It might be common courtesy, but a lot of people neglect this post-interview act, and hiring managers expect some form of follow-up whether via handwritten note, email, phone call, or even social media. In addition to displaying your gratitude, you can also use the thank you note to hammer home some of the key points you brought up in the interview or touch on an aspect of your experience that was not brought up during the discussion.