Conduct Research on the Employer, Hiring Manager, Job Opportunity
Success in a job interview starts with a solid foundation of knowledge on the job-seeker’s part. You should understand the employer, the requirements of the job, and the background of the person (or people) interviewing you. The more research you conduct, the more you’ll understand the employer, and the better you’ll be able to answer interview questions (as well as ask insightful questions. Information sources include the organization’s Website and other published materials, search engines, research tools, and your network of contacts.
Review Common Interview Questions and Prepare Responses
Another key to interview success is preparing responses to expected interview questions. First, inquire as to the type of interview to expect (which you can do by asking your contact person at the organization). Your goal is composing detailed yet concise responses, focusing on specific examples and accomplishments.
Dress for Success
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.
Arrive on Time for the Interview — and Prepared for Success
There is no excuse for ever arriving late for an interview — other than some sort of 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.
Make Good First Impressions — to Everyone You Encounter
A cardinal rule of interviewing: Be polite and offer warm greetings to everyone you meet — from parking attendant or receptionist to the hiring manager. When it’s time for the interview, keep in mind that first impressions — the ones interviewers make in the first few seconds of greeting you — can make or break an interview. Make a strong first impression by dressing well, arriving early, and when greeting your interviewer, stand, smile, make eye contact, and offer a firm (neither limp and nor 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.
Be Authentic, Upbeat, Focused, Confident, Candid, and Concise
Once the interview starts, the key to success is the quality and delivery of your responses. Your goal should always be authenticity, responding truthfully to interview questions. At the same time, your goal is to get to the next step, so you’ll want to provide focused responses that showcase your skills, experience, and fit — with the job and the employer.
Remember Body Language, Avoiding Bad Habits
While the content of your interview responses is paramount, poor body language can be a distraction at best — or a reason not to hire you at worst. Effective forms of body language: smiling, eye contact, solid posture, active listening, nodding. Detrimental forms of body language: slouching, looking off in the distance, playing with pen, fidgeting in chair, brushing back hair, touching face, chewing gum, mumbling.
Sell Yourself Throughout and then Close the Deal
An adage in interviewing says the most qualified applicant is not always the one who is hired — which means the hired candidate is often the job-seeker who does the best job in responding to interview questions and showcasing his or her fit with the job, department, and organization. Some liken the job interview to 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. Finally, as the interview winds down, ask about the next steps in the process and the timetable the employer expects to use to make a decision about the position.
Thank Interviewer(s) in Person and by Email
As you have already seen from previous tips, 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. Writing thank-you emails 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 did not bother to send thank-you’s.