◆ Stand in front of the mirror and rehearse what you’re going to say. Mentally focus on acing the job interview in your head throughout the day. The more you do it, the more natural it becomes. The truth is, speakers who give talks at large conventions in front of thousands of people do the same thing. They mentally prepare over and over, a million times, to overcome stage fright.
◆ Spend a few hours learning everything you can about the company—from as many sources as you can. Talk to friends and contacts, read current news releases, and, yes, spend some time on Google. Often, candidates just look at the information a company is pushing out via the website and social media but fail to look more in-depth at what others are saying. By doing so, you’ll get the larger picture of the company (along with any negative press).
◆ Status update about your devil of an ex-girlfriend? Delete it. The photos of you drinking beer at 2 in the morning on top of a police car… Gone! While you might think those are prime and prominent examples, most totally overlook one thing: Complaints. 99% of the people who use social media do it. It’s aimed at others, companies, political parties, and so on. Ensure that everything is set to private and your privacy levels are selected to keep prying eyes out. If you’re using Linkedin, build up your connections. Get some endorsements and recommendations going for yourself. Two is plenty to go from nobody to somebody. Spell and grammar check your bio description. Most importantly, take a professional photo! Your Facebook selfie is not a professional photo. Ever wonder why a lot of CEO’s have photos that look like they were shot in an actual photography studio? There’s your answer!
◆ Plan out a wardrobe that fits the organization and its culture, striving for the most professional appearance you can accomplish. Remember that it’s always better to be overdressed than under and to wear clothing that fits and is clean and pressed. Keep accessories and jewelry to a minimum. Try not to smoke or eat right before the interview and if possible, brush your teeth or use mouthwash. Find more detailed advice including specifics for men and women job seekers in our article, When Job-Hunting, Dress for Success.
◆ Make sure you get your outfit cleaned, pressed, and tailored (a modern fit is best). People often have their “interviewing suit” that’s been sitting in their closet for the past couple of years, and they dust it off for the occasion—you don’t want to be that guy or girl. Don't forget about the little things: Shine your shoes, check for loose hems, and make sure your fingernails look manicured. This is the stuff that you don't always think people notice, but they do!
◆ Before your interview, get a list of the people you’re meeting with from the company. Then, learn more about them —including what type of behavior might intrigue them or turn them off. Finally, prep some questions that are specific to each interviewer: Ask for details about her focus at the firm, discuss current events on his specialty, or bring up a common interest you know he or she has outside the office.
◆ Always keep a pen, a piece of paper, and an extra copy of your resume. You’ll more than likely jot down some notes, and hand over your resume. If you only bring one copy of your resume, then what happens when you go blank? Unless you have a cheat sheet or a second resume in hand, you’re stuck and uncomfortable trying to answer when your brain goes dead. If possible, bring along a few letters of recommendation. Include phone numbers or emails in the header of each. They will help you to stand out among countless other people who make it the interviewer’s responsibility to gather them. Have a list of people they can contact to see if you are who you say you are, readily available.
◆ If you can’t find any recommendations and it’s the last minute, don’t panic. Most will be okay with you providing them at a later time. Plus, it gives you an excuse to follow up and reconnect with them.
◆ There is no excuse ever for arriving late for an interview. Short of a disaster, strive to arrive about 15 minutes before your scheduled interview to complete additional paperwork and allow yourself time to get settled. Arriving a bit early is also a chance to observe the dynamics of the workplace. The day before the interview, pack up extra copies of your resume or CV and reference list. If you have a portfolio or samples of your work, bring those along too. Finally, remember to pack several pens and a pad of paper to jot notes. Finally, as you get to the offices, shut off your cell phone. (And if you were chewing gum, get rid of it.) For additional tips and advice, read our article, 24-Hour Countdown to the Job Interview.
◆ When you interview with the "please, please hire me" approach, you appear desperate and less confident. Reflect the three Cs during the interview: cool, calm, and confident. You know you can do the job; make sure the interviewer believes you can, too. From the very beginning of the interview, your interviewer is giving you information, either directly or indirectly. If you are not hearing it, you are missing a major opportunity. Good communication skills include listening and letting the person know you heard what was said. Observe your interviewer, and match that style and pace.
◆ Do not talk much with the interviewer. Telling the interviewer more than he needs to know could be a fatal mistake. When you have not prepared ahead of time, you may ramble when answering interview questions, sometimes talking yourself right out of the job. Prepare for the interview by reading through the job posting, matching your skills with the position's requirements and relating only that information.
◆ A cardinal rule of interviewing is to be polite and offer warm greetings to everyone you meet from the parking attendant to the receptionist to the hiring manager. Employers often are curious about how job applicants treat staff members and your job offer could easily be derailed if you’re rude or arrogant to any of the staff. When it’s time for the interview, keep in mind that first impressions the impression interviewers get in the first few seconds of meeting you can make or break an interview. Make a strong first impression by dressing well (see #3), arriving early (see #4), and when greeting your interviewer, stand, smile, make eye contact, and offer a firm but not a bone-crushing handshake. Remember that having a positive attitude and expressing enthusiasm for the job and employer are vital in the initial stages of the interview; studies show that hiring managers make critical decisions about job applicants in the first 20 minutes of the interview.
◆ If they are looking for someone who’s a pro at selling over the phone, be that person Tailor your resume to fit the bill. When you bring up your past working experiences, focus on how your skills can transfer over. It doesn’t matter if you were a taxi cab driver looking to handle sales calls or leads. You can explain how you had great conversations with all your riders in your cab on a daily basis. Over the years you’ve become a master communicator; one who’s able to build quick rapport with anyone and everyone.
◆ In the opposite regard, imagine the same resume only this time, it explains how you were such a great driver with zero accidents or traffic tickets. Additionally, you always managed to show up on time for the customer. In reality, none of that sh-t matters! If it doesn’t transfer over to what the employer is looking for, in this case, someone who has stellar communication skills, then the value diminishes significantly.
◆ When interviewers ask for an example of a time when you did something, they are asking behavioral interview questions, which are designed to elicit a sample of your past behavior. If you fail to relate a specific example, you not only don't answer the question, but you also miss an opportunity to prove your ability and talk about your skills. When asked if they have any questions, most candidates answer, "No." Wrong answer. Part of knowing how to interview is being ready to ask questions that demonstrate an interest in what goes on in the company. Asking questions also gives you the opportunity to find out if this is the right place for you. The best questions come from listening to what you're asked during the interview and asking for additional information.
◆ The most qualified applicant is not always the one who is hired; the winning candidate is often the jobseeker who does the best job responding to interview questions and showcasing his or her fit with the job, department, and organization. Some liken the job interview with a sales call. You are the salesperson and the product you are selling to the employer is your ability to fill the organization’s needs, solve its problems, propel its success.
◆ This question is really just about uncovering the type of character and personality you have. If you didn’t get along with your past boss or co-workers, the chances of you having issues in a new workplace could be high. The hiring manager is simply probing for the juicy details of your troubled past. If getting a raise was a problem, the interview might wonder if you weren’t valuable enough to the company to actually get one. Of course, the company could have been having financial issues unrelated to you as well. Just remember to keep it positive and honest whenever possible. There are a lot of reasons to leave your last company, and not all of them are going to be negative. Don’t be afraid to speak up. Avoid letting them assume the worst.
◆ Common courtesy and politeness go far in interviewing; thus, the importance of thanking each person who interviews you should come as no surprise. Start the process while at the interview, thanking each person who interviewed you before you leave. Writing thank-you emails and notes shortly after the interview will not get you the job offer, but doing so will certainly give you an edge over any of the other finalists who didn’t bother to send thank-you notes. For more tips on writing thank-you notes, read this article: 10 Tips for Writing a Job-Search Interview Thank-You Letter. You can also check out these job interview thank-you letter samples.
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