How to Knock ‘Em Dead at Your Next Interview
Here’s a little secret: No one likes interviews. Not the person being interviewed or the person doing the interviewing. If it were possible to get all the information needed from a resume, I feel sure no one would ever do them. But there are things a piece of paper just can’t tell you, so they are an unfortunate but necessary evil.
Keeping in mind that the person interviewing you is also not excited about it, it’s important to do everything in your power to make it worth their time. They saw something on your resume or cover letter that told them you’d be a good fit for their company. If they didn’t, they certainly wouldn’t waste the time setting up a meeting with you. Just by getting an interview, you’re well on your way to scoring that job. So here are a few ways to make sure the interview reinforces what they liked about your resume, instead of making them question that decision.
Research the Company
Employers can always tell if you’ve done your homework, and if you haven’t, you can lose major points. It can seem like you don’t really care about the job or the company itself. Not only does this look bad from the interviewer’s standpoint, but it can end in disaster for you as well. Doing research beforehand will make you more educated about the company and the position, so you can easy answer questions (and ask them!), and it will also let you know if you should even take the interview in the first place. Most employers have online reviews on places like Glassdoor, and while you shouldn’t believe everything you read online, you may want to look for recurring statements that point out red flags. Take note if they seem to lay off people a lot, because your job may not be safe. Listen to complaints of harsh work environments and really consider: Do I want to work there?
Even if the company seems casual, an interview is not the place to test that out. Dress nicer than you have to, even if you’re the only one dressed up in the building. Make sure your pants aren’t too wrinkled and the cat hair has been lint-rolled off (that’s mostly a message to myself).
Bring a Resume and References
Most interviewers will have your resume in front of them, but it never hurts to bring one. Also, consider bringing references in case that’s asked. Rather than having to search through your phone or email them later, it’s taken care of immediately and emphasizes your professionalism. Some best practices for resumes and cover letters are another story for another day, but for now do your best to create a clean, concise, and truthful resume and letter.
Practice Questions & Answers
An interview is about selling yourself, so have your pitch ready. Be able to clearly talk about your past jobs, why they didn’t work out, what you’re looking for now, and your current goals. Be able to explain why you’re the right person for this job and why you even want it. It’s important to be prepared not only for the questions you’ll be asked but also about the questions you should ask the interviewer. We’ve all had that awkward moment when the dreaded “so what questions do you have for me?” is asked, and we sit in total silence. But this is really your time to get more information about what this job would look like for you.
Ask questions about the position: What would a typical day be like for me? What are some of the biggest challenges of this position?
Ask questions about the company: What’s your favorite thing about working here?
Ask questions relevant to the interview itself. Pay attention, and keep a mental list of follow-up questions you could ask. Even if it’s not imperative information for you to have, it will show that you were listening and that you care.
Be on Time!
There is no way to make a worse first impression than to be late to an interview. You’re wasting their time and potentially delaying a meeting or another interview after yours. If you’re unfamiliar with the location of the business, leave extra early. Drive by earlier to scope out the parking situation, and then find a coffee shop or something to sit at. At least you’ll be in the area, so time can’t slip away from you. If something completely unpredictable happens, make sure you let the interviewer know ASAP (rather than emailing after) and make it very clear that you are interested and want to reschedule. You’ll need to make every effort to reschedule quickly because they’re likely trying to fill that position very soon.
Avoid Slang & Filler Words
Practicing your answers will significantly reduce the number of times you use filler words. “Um” and “like” are commonplace in our vernacular, but they’re typically eliminated when we feel confident and sure of what we’re saying, which can only come from practicing. Trust me, I am the Queen of practicing speeches and conversations in my car, so I know what I’m talking about. Slang is also something to avoid. Even at the youngest and hippest of companies, it can come across as immature and inappropriate for an interview.
Chime in below with any of your own interview experiences (good or bad) and what you learned from them. Best of luck on your next interview!