These days, the anonymity of online applications leaves applicants anxious the second their application is submitted. Will they or won’t they get a response? Naturally the minute a call comes through about an interview, everybody wants to snatch the opportunity up to turn a job possibility into a real offer. At The Execu|Search Group, we have already written a variety of articles that offer interview advice, but if you need a quick reference to ensure you do a great job on your next interview, we put together an abridged list of the most important interviewing tips we think you should know:
What to wear: The first thing to address is what to wear. When dressing for an interview for a professional position, always dress in business attire, and remember it’s better to be overdressed rather than underdressed. The goal is to present a neat and well-groomed image to the interviewer, because it only takes a second for an interviewer to get their first impression of you.
When to arrive: It’s best to arrive at an interview about five to ten minutes early. If you have to, make a run through of your commute to the interview beforehand so you can get an idea of how long the commute will take and factor in a few extra minutes for unexpected delays.
What to bring: Come prepared to the interview by bringing extra copies of your resume as well as a list of references. Many interviewers won’t ask for references until further in the interview process, but it’s best to be prepared just in case. Don’t bring any food into the room, and be sure to turn your cell phone on silent or off completely. It is recommended that you also bring a list of questions to ask the interviewer, and always bring a notepad and pen for taking notes. This shows that you’re engaged and planning to retain information from the interview.
Question Prep: There are a few questions that are frequently asked, such as where you see yourself in five years, how you would describe yourself, and what you liked and disliked about your previous job. To prepare for these questions, here are some things that you may want to think about ahead of time:
- your strengths and weaknesses
- your short and long term goals
- previous experiences in which you demonstrated a certain skill or overcame an obstacle
- what makes you a good hire
- what unique qualities you possess that others may not (i.e. what you bring to the table)
- why you want the job, and what makes you the best candidate for it
To prepare for more specific questions, you should familiarize yourself with the position you’re interviewing for and the tasks it calls for, as well as the skills the position needs/requires. Additionally, consider:
- your ability to learn and adapt
- how others would describe your character
Having a grasp on how you measure up in both these realms will prepare you for questions that inquire about your abilities and how others view you. Finally, be ready to answer questions related to identifying and solving real problems. These are called “content questions” because they reflect the content of the actual job, allowing candidates to demonstrate how they would solve problems they would likely face on the job, if hired.
Expect content questions like:
- How will you identify problems and opportunities on the job?
- Tell me about a time when _____________.
- Recount a situation in which you called upon both your technical and managerial skills to achieve a goal.
Being able to answer these questions shows you’re quick on the uptake, and shows the interviewer how you think as you solve the problem.
Body language: Be cognizant of your body language and the non-verbal signals you may be communicating to your interviewer. Studies show that taking up too much space can be perceived as aggressive or competitive, so try not to drape your arms over too many things or claim a lot of space. Alternately, taking up too little space can be perceived by interviewers as a sign of lacking confidence. Finally, match and mirror your interviewer’s body language. There are subtle ways to mirror their body language, such as matching their smile with one of your own. Studies show that people hire people who are similar to them.
Follow up: As your interview is ending, ask about the next steps that will follow. If your interviewer says he or she will be contacting candidates within a week and you haven’t heard back in that time, it’s perfectly acceptable to reach out and remind them of the timetable they’ve given you. Also, a thank you note sent the same day as your interview is not only a common courtesy, but will also keep you fresh on the interviewer’s mind. Be sure to send a thank you note to every individual you met in the interview process.
Arm yourself with these tips and you’re sure to nail your next job interview. You’ll be set to make a good impression, give intelligent answers, and follow up thoughtfully. The preparation you have done will result in presenting your candidacy in the most optimal way possible and bring you much closer to landing the position.