Most people feel at least some nervousness before an interview, whether they’ve had only one interview before or fifty of them already. One of the best things that can be done to ease nerves and have a positive experience is to be prepared. And when it comes to standing out to a potential employer, it’s all about the details. So read on, and take note of our top dos and don’ts for your next interview.
Research. Make sure that you know a few key things about the company you are applying for before your interview. There is usually plenty of information that you can gather about a company through their website and social media accounts. This research will help you to explain why you would be a good fit for the company and well suited to the position. If the job is in an industry that is new to you, research the industry as well so you know what you’re getting into.
Preparation. Have a look over your resume, and examine the challenges and successes you experienced in your employment history. Questions about how you achieved success or overcame challenges in the past are very common in an interview. How would your past successes benefit the company you are interviewing for now? Prepare questions you have for the employer as well. Having questions prepared to ask ahead of time will show confidence and emphasize your interest and enthusiasm in the position. Bring an extra copy of your resume just in case. It might not be needed, but could save the interviewer the hassle if they don’t have a copy in front of them, and will show that you are organized and think ahead.
Appearance. It’s about more than what you wear. You probably know you should be well groomed and dress appropriately for the job you are applying for. But you can take your physical appearance a step further by being aware of your body language. So make eye contact, maintain good posture, smile, speak clearly and avoid fidgeting. Being well dressed won’t save you if you can’t be physically present and engaged. Another thing to note: don’t wear too much perfume or cologne! You want them to remember your enthusiasm, qualifications and professionalism, not how strong your perfume was!
Know your “why”. When interviewing for a job, we tend to focus on impressing the employer, and forget something else really important … is this job right for YOU? Why are you applying for this job? What makes you a good fit? Why would you perform well in this position? If you do not enjoy your job or like your company, you are doing neither the company or yourself any favours by being there. So don’t forget to take the time to evaluate if this is an environment you would thrive in.
Anticipate. If you have any weaknesses in your work history, try to anticipate how you will respond to questions regarding those issues. Always try to turn negatives into positives. Maybe you were miserable at a previous job, and only stayed a few months. You could make the experience sound more positive by describing it as an opportunity you had to learn more about what you are passionate about and are ready to focus your energy on.
Make a good impression. Start out with expressing your enthusiasm to be there, offer a strong handshake and remember to smile! Afterwards, (within 48 hours is best) follow up with a quick thank you note via email. Take a few notes after your interview, so that you can reference some specific talking points. Show that you respect their time by making it short and to the point.
Timing. Don’t be late but don’t be too early either. If you’re going to be late make sure to let them know. Turning up way too early may disrupt the interviewer’s day and shows that you have poor time management skills.
Listen. Don’t interrupt your interviewer when they are speaking. It can be tempting to say something right away when you are feeling enthusiastic, but resist the urge to speak until the interviewer is completely finished with what they are saying.
Lighten up. Don’t be negative. Not even when you are speaking about negative experiences. If you are asked to speak about your failures, or what you didn’t like about a past job, find a way to put a positive spin on it. “Negatives” can always be great learning opportunities or ways to discover where you want to focus your energy instead, making them positives!
Don’t lie. Lying about your qualifications will likely get you in trouble later. This includes over-exaggerating. Lying can get you in a lot of trouble, including possible termination. So, don’t do it!
This seems like a lot to remember, but most of it is common sense. Present yourself professionally, do your research, show your enthusiasm and appreciation, and focus on the positive. That’s about it. Good luck!