Landing a new job often means going through an interview or even a series of them. If you’ve been interviewing for years, you may not think much of it.
However, for those who are switching careers or new to the workforce, interviews might be intimidating.
You also might consistently be a great candidate for a job, but just don’t know how to interview well.
The best thing you can do if you have an upcoming interview is to prepare for it.
You want to present yourself professionally so that the hiring manager is convinced you’re the best one for the job.
There are lots of ways to go about prepping for the big day, but you can start by taking the tips below into consideration.
Do Your Interview Research
One of the best ways to prepare for an interview is by doing your research.
Give yourself some time to look into the company culture, its history, and what it offers (such as a product or service).
If you know who will be interviewing you, try to figure out some information about them and their position.
It’s important to know how long the company has been around, what its mission is, and how its products or services have changed throughout the years.
Be sure to read over the job description again to get a sense of what the company is looking for.
Researching not only improves your odds of landing the job but can also make you feel less nervous and more confident.
Dress The Part
How you present yourself in an interview matters.
Your outfit and how you groom yourself are some of the first things a hiring manager will notice, and you want to do everything you can to make the best impression.
Lean toward plain outfits that are professional but not too formal (think button-ups, blouses, and dress pants and shoes).
You want your clothes to fit well without being too tight. Be careful not to wear anything too revealing, low-cut, or short.
Brush or style your hair, consider a clean shave, and leave the big statement pieces and strong perfume at home.
Pay Attention to Your Body Language
Nonverbal cues can actually communicate more than the words you choose to speak. You want to come off as a confident, positive, and competent individual.
Start on the right foot by giving the hiring manager or team a firm handshake along with a sincere smile.
Try to keep your posture upright and avoid crossing your arms as this can signal that you’re closed off or uninterested in being there.
Avoid tapping your foot or fingers, looking at your watch, or fiddling with clothes or jewelry, which can convey impatience.
Finally, you want to make and hold good eye contact without overdoing it.
If there are multiple people in the room, try to briefly look at each of them while answering a question, and then return your gaze to whoever asked the question.
Being distracted during an interview can make it hard to concentrate and do your best.
You can’t control the distractions from the interviewer’s end, but you can minimize them from yours.
Whether it’s a ringing cell phone or a wandering mind, you want to show up that day fully present.
You can reduce the number of distractions by turning your phone off before entering the building (or putting it on ‘Do Not Disturb’ if it’s a video interview).
The last thing you want is emails and texts popping up on your screen while you’re answering a question.
If there’s a lot on your mind, make a list of those things on a sheet of paper so that you can come back to them afterward. In general, you want to plan ahead so that all you have to worry about that day is the interview itself.
There are several items you’ll want to have on hand when you get to your interview.
Some of these include copies of your resume, a list of references, your portfolio, and any important information you’ll need to remember.
It’s vital not to forget these items at home as doing so can cause the hiring manager to assume that you are undisciplined or forgetful.
Make a list of necessary items the week before and double-check it before leaving your house.
Think about and research what you’ll need well in advance just in case there’s anything extra the company requires you to bring along.
Ask Questions During The Interview
Although you’ll be asked plenty of questions at your interview, you’ll also have the chance to ask your own.
After all, you’re also evaluating whether this position is a good fit for you.
In many ways, the interview should feel like a conversation.
Asking questions shows enthusiasm, curiosity, and genuine interest in the position, and interviewers will expect it.
In the days and weeks leading up to the interview, sit down and try to come up with 3-5 questions that are unique and relevant.
It’s better to have more prepared just in case any of them are answered in the interview.
In most cases, you’ll get the chance to ask your set of questions at the end of the interview.
Speak Positively During The Interview
You might be asked questions about your previous company, employers, or bosses. It’s important to speak positively of your experiences, albeit honestly.
You don’t want to throw anyone from your past under the bus, even if it’s tempting. There is a way to speak the truth in a positive manner, which you’ll want to aim to do.
Any trash talking will only backfire and could cost you the job.
Let The Interviewer Lead
Don’t be first to mention salary and benefits
Show Up on Time
Showing up on time for an interview is one of the simplest ways you can ensure the experience is a good one.
Being late can negatively affect your chances of getting the job as well as start the interview off on a bad foot.
If possible, try getting there 10-15 minutes early and be sure to account for traffic along the way.
Failing to show up on time can convey laziness, incompetence, and lack of concern for both the position and the interviewer’s time.
If you do end up running late, make sure to contact the interviewer right away to warn them.
Give them your estimated time of arrival and apologize for the inconvenience.
Whether you like it or not, interviews are an unavoidable part of getting a job.
Although you may feel you’re lacking in this area, the good news is that anyone can make improvements.
Not everyone who wants a job will get it, and the interview is usually what separates the qualified candidates from the best candidate.
You want to go into every interview prepared and confident since hiring managers tend to make their judgments very quickly.
It’s normal to be nervous, but don’t let those nerves get the best of you.
Remember that the interview is also an opportunity for you to learn more and decide whether you would enjoy working at that company.
As long as you are being yourself, putting forth an effort, and learning from your mistakes, you’re sure to improve in the interview process and find a position that suits you well.